BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics spent more time than usual inside the locker room following their 115-96 drubbing at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs.
While the particulars of what was said remain a mystery, there’s one thing that came through with clarity - everyone inside that locker room has be better.
A better player; a better teammate; a better leader; better at doing whatever role they are tasked with.
And while it is indeed an across-the-board problem, there’s no denying who has to be the first to make that change and make it soon - Kyrie Irving.
He is Boston’s best player, the one everyone looks to for leadership both on the floor and inside the locker room.
Boston (43-31) has now lost four in a row, the team’s longest losing streak of the season.
They have given up at least 114 points in seven straight games, something that last happened to a Celtics team before any of the current Celtics - or their head coach Brad Stevens - was born.
Irving reminded us all how hard it can be to win in the NBA, and how difficult it can be to “accomplish something great.”
And while there may be a million opinions outside the Celtics locker room, Irving readily admits that he has to be better in a number of areas.
“For me my focus is figuring out, the guys I have in my locker room, how to get the best out of them and them getting the best out of me,” Irving said. “It’s been hard but it’s a challenge worth fighting for because the end result is standing on that (championship) stage.”
Of course, Irving is the lone Celtics player who has won an NBA title besides Baynes, although Irving did it as a starter while Baynes, then with San Antonio, was a lightly used reserve.
And having played both for a team that won a title (Cleveland) and one that's in pursuit of one (Boston), there are indeed some similarities.
But not many.
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“This is just a new challenge," Irving said. "We had a luxury of relying on experience (in Cleveland). Here we’re building something great every single day and that’s the experience we get. We had guys (in Cleveland) that had been on that stage, lost on that stage, won on that stage. Here, we’re trying to build great championship habits. And that takes time and takes a commitment.
Irving added, “But it starts with me. I will do my best to keep communicating as best I can and get the most out of these guys because they deserve it.”
And that communication that Irving speaks about … he knows it too is something that he has to do a better job at going forward.
“I’m used to gearing up for something bigger than myself around this time and what it takes,” Irving said. “I can do a better job of communicating that to my teammates. And being a better listener, figuring out the best way to communicate with those guys, that point, this point in the season … getting ready for wars and battles.”
And while the challenge of figuring all this out and making the most of a season that began with such promise is indeed difficult, Irving says he’s all-in with his focus on the big picture.
“For us we’re still developing as a team, a whole season of doing so,” Irving said. “But there’s a light at the end of all this. That’s probably where my patience will always lay, knowing something’s beyond this, something … this challenge is happening for a reason and I have to believe that.”
He added, “It hasn’t looked pretty all the time, but we’ve always tried to find a way to figure it out and get the most out of each other. It starts with me and it trickles down to the rest of our leaders on this team. You have to be committed and it starts with me."
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