Say what you want about the Boston Celtics, but at least they're open about their issues.
The Celtics own a respectable 37-21 record at the All-Star break but haven't quite clicked to meet lofty preseason expectations. That's something they've freely admitted: Kyrie Irving said this team lacked experience after a tough loss to the Orlando Magic in January, while Marcus Morris said earlier this month it "hasn't been fun for a long time" in the C's locker room.
Irving was asked about the Celtics' turbulent season to date in a sit-down interview with Rachel Nichols that aired Wednesday morning on ESPN. His comments were candid and eye-opening.
"It's a lot to figure out all in one year," Irving said. "It's been a trying year for us. Because we basically have a bunch of young men in our locker room that feel like they're capable of doing a lot more of what they're doing.
"And that's OK. But there's a maturity that you have to have. There's a professionalism that you have to really showcase every single day. And that's what the great ones do."
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Irving delivered a similar message back in January. But this time, he named names, referencing backup guard Terry Rozier while explaining the effects of Boston's minutes crunch.
"I initially didn't play the minutes I wanted to play. I'm 26 years old heading into my prime. Like why do I have to wait for anybody?" Irving said.
"Terry Rozier -- he played in the playoffs (last season), he did extremely well. Coming back, that's a natural competition that me and him have. Like, it is what it is. No one wants to say it, but I will.
"It's part of their growth. When you have winning in mind, then you've got to do what it takes, but you've got to understand your teammates."
The Celtics' lone All-Star (and pending free agent) insisted his primary focus is on winning, and that any comments he makes are meant to push his teammates to be better.
But Irving apparently also is aware of how players speaking out to the media instead of addressing issues directly can lead to problems.
"A lot of things that are said get into locker rooms," he added. "Media has broken up locker rooms. It's been done before. Where you say something and it's misinterpreted, and instead of addressing it with the person or individual, like human interaction, you read it on your phone.
"You read it on a text, like somebody says, 'Hey, did you see what this person said about you?' and it's your teammate, and you're like, 'Wait, I didn't hear that.'
"And then you hold back, don't say anything to him and then throughout the season, it ends up coming out again. That's not the way life is supposed to go, and it's not the way basketball is supposed to go."
Whether Irving's comments push any buttons in the C's locker room remains to be seen. But Boston faces a tough challenge immediately after the All-Star break, visiting Milwaukee on Thursday night to battle the Eastern Conference-leading Bucks.
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