Celtics

Kyrie Irving says grandfather's death impacted last season, decision to leave Boston

Kyrie Irving says grandfather's death impacted last season, decision to leave Boston

Kyrie Irving, making his first public comments Friday since signing with the Brooklyn Nets, suggested his grandfather’s death last October impacted his mood and leadership abilities with the Boston Celtics last season, and ultimately forced him to reconsider his priorities when free agency arrived.

Wearing a black No. 11 Nets jersey and a black headband, Irving offered an 809-word response when asked directly about what changed after he publicly declared his intention to re-sign in Boston in early October 2018.

Here is Irving’s response in full:

"I think around that time, it felt incredible, in terms of the energy that we were building, especially for the future in Boston. It was something that I couldn’t really explain at the time because, personally, I don’t think I was acknowledging the things that were surrounding my life as well. And how to lead this group of guys that I had been traded to -- I wasn’t drafted by Boston, I had no type of affiliation with Boston before I left Cleveland. There weren’t any works, anything that happened, Boston was a surprise team, with [owner] Wyc [Grousbeck] [and [president of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge], that took the chance on trading for me. And, when they did, and the way our first season happened, and also the way the end of the season happened, and having so much youth and so much exuberance and goals set personally, I think that some of the actual knowledge that needed to be had, in terms of being a championship team, takes more than just two years. It takes more than just an environment that you feel just comfortable in. Hey, I think I want to re-sign here, if you guys have me -- Boston crowd was immense. It was crazy. They loved me in Boston, I loved the Boston fans. 

"Then, two weeks later, things just got really really rocky for me in terms of when I left, I believe you know, after the Phoenix [game], I went to my grandfather’s memorial, and he passed on Oct. 23 and, after he passed, basketball was the last thing on my mind. A lot of basketball and the joy I had from it was sucked away from me. There was a facial expression that I carried around with me throughout the year. Didn’t allow anyone to get close to me in that instance, and it really bothered me. I didn’t take the necessary steps to get counseling or get therapy or anything to deal with someone that close to me dying. I’ve never dealt with anything like that. So, for me, I responded in ways that are uncharacteristic and, like I said, I had to acknowledge that fact. And I had to acknowledge that fact to the organization first. Because that was our internal bond and trust that we had. I talked to Danny, I wanted to re-sign. So throughout the year, it started becoming more and more clear that my relationship within my home life has way higher precedence than the organization or anyone and I barely got a chance to talk to my grandfather before he passed, from playing basketball. So you tell me if you would want to go to work every single day knowing that you just lost somebody close to you doing a job every single day that everyone from the outside or anyone internally is protecting you for. Like, ‘Hey, just keep being a basketball player.’ 

"So, throughout that year,  just became rocky and a lot of the battles that I thought I could battle through from the team environment, I just wasn’t ready for. And I failed those guys in a sense that I didn’t give them everything that I could have during that season, especially with the amount of pieces that we had. My relationship with them, personally, were great but in terms of me being a leader in that environment and bringing everyone together, I failed. For me it’s like just a huge learning experience just to slow down and acknowledge that I’m human in all this. Then also take my steps going forward as reaching out to Danny and talking to those guys, and Wyc, and reaching out to them and letting them know, ‘Hey, look, basketball is [inaudible] tomorrow. I care about you guys as human beings. I know this is a competitive environment but let’s move past this and let’s go forward. 

“Marcus [Smart], Terry [Rozier], all those guys just want to be great. We were all internally trying to be great and I don’t think we were trying to be great as a team to meet at the top. And that happens in human environments all the time, whether people want to admit it or not. There are personal goals that everyone has, family, friends, media, telling everyone, ‘Hey, you need to be doing this, you need to be doing that.’ In actuality, none of that crap matters. So everyone has a role to play. And you see the most experience teams end up winning the championships because they all buy in and they sacrifice. It’s usually the oldest teams in the league that make it there every single year because they don’t have to deal with the same youthful expectations that are unrealistic for players that really have to earn different things in this league to be at that level -- including myself.”

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Celtics injury report: Robert Williams ruled out vs. Cavaliers

Celtics injury report: Robert Williams ruled out vs. Cavaliers

The Boston Celtics will be missing some size on their bench for Monday night's game vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Robert Williams has been ruled out with left hip soreness, the team announced Sunday. Rookie Romeo Langford was also ruled out as he continues to recover from the ankle injury he suffered during a game with the Maine Red Claws.

On the bright side for Boston, Gordon Hayward could make his long-awaited return to the court after missing the last month with a fractured left hand.

Hayward originally was slated to return from his injury around Christmas.

The Celtics (16-5) and Cavaliers (5-17) will face off at 7:30 p.m. ET on Monday.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Cavaliers, which tips off Monday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Tommy & Mike have the call at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Gordon Hayward eyes potential Celtics return Monday night vs. Cavaliers

Gordon Hayward eyes potential Celtics return Monday night vs. Cavaliers

BOSTON — Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward said the fractured bone in his left hand has completely healed and acknowledged the possibility that he could return to action on Monday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"Bone has healed, probably stronger than my right hand. There’s a plate in there with screws. The bone is good,” Hayward said Sunday after going through the team’s offday practice. Boston did not engage in any live 5-on-5 action but Hayward sounded open to returning Monday.

"Tomorrow’s a possibility,” he said. "See how I feel when I wake up, go through shootaround, see how it goes.”

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he’d let the training staff determine when Hayward was ready to return but also didn’t rule out Monday and noted, “he’s coming back sooner than later.”

The Celtics originally announced a 6-week return-to-action timeline for Hayward after he underwent surgery to repair a fourth metacarpal fracture in his left hand on November 11. Hayward suffered the injury running into LaMarcus Aldridge on Nov. 9.

Hayward has ramped up activity over the past week and acknowledged that an earlier return seemed possibly recently.

"I mean you try to take it day-by-day. I think as it’s steadily improving and can do more and more, you start to think coming back a little bit earlier,” said Hayward. "I think you set the timeline a little bit later than what you’re hoping for just so that [the media] and everyone else isn’t like — if you’re late like, what’s the deal?”

Hayward stressed that, if the bone is fully healed, he’s at no real risk for reinjury without taking another shot.

"I can’t do anything that’s going to hurt it. I’m going to have to get hit equally as hard, probably more than last time, because I have the metal in my hand now,” said Hayward. "So the bone is healed. I can’t hurt it worse. It’s almost like playing through the pain, the tissues that I have in my hand, those are a lot slower to recover, so those are going to be sore a little bit. Motion and strength is going to take a little while to get back; it’s whether or not you can play through that and still be effective. That’s kind of what we’re determining but the bone is healed.”

Hayward said he does not expect to have the hardware in his hand removed unless it bothers him further down the road. He admitted he’s been cautious with the hand as he ramps up contact activities but doesn’t expect that to linger.

"It’s definitely something I’m still guarding and it’s going to be like that for a little while,” said Hayward. "That’s only natural. But part of that is getting out there and playing and getting over it mentally. I have gotten a hit [by an assistant coach], it reacted normally to that. The bone has healed and that’s the important part.”

A six-week return had Hayward looking at closer to a Christmas return. The Celtics play three games in four nights starting with Monday’s visit from the Cavaliers.

Boston is 9-4 without Hayward.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Cavaliers, which tips off Monday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Tommy & Mike have the call at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.