BOSTON – There were a number of folks within the Celtics organization that Kyrie Irving had left hints for that he would announce his plans to come back on the night of the team’s open practice last week.
But Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck wasn’t one of them.
“I thought that was super cool. If I had known (Irving would announce it that night) I would have been there,” said a chuckling Grousbeck, at the Celtics annual Shamrock Foundation Tip-Off Gala presented by New England Baptist Hospital.
Nevertheless, Grousbeck is thrilled with Irving’s intent being to re-sign with Boston this summer in what’s likely to be a five-year deal worth $189 million.
“He is a true Celtic and a great person,” Grousbeck said. “I’m honored that he will plan on considering us next summer. I couldn’t be happier with how the relationship stands.”
Irving, acquired by Boston from Cleveland in a blockbuster deal prior to the start of last season, is a key factor in Boston’s quest to get back to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010.
A five-time All-Star, the 26-year-old Irving was already ranked among the top point guards in the NBA prior to coming to Boston.
But in his lone season with the Green Team, Irving did more than just lead the team in scoring.
He asserted himself as the team’s leader, something that wasn’t the case during his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers after LeBron James returned for a second tour of duty.
In Boston, Irving’s position as the team’s leader isn’t in question even with veterans like Al Horford and Gordon Hayward around.
Grousbeck may not have known when Irving would make his announcement, but it was clear weeks ago that he was feeling good about Boston’s chances of developing the kind of basketball culture that would be enticing to Irving to sign on long-term.
In an interview with 98.5 the Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show last month, Grousbeck showed no signs of concern when it came to discussing Irving’s future beyond this upcoming season.
“I’m just not too worried about Kyrie,” Grousbeck said at the time. “I think he’s going to see what we have and he’s going to be part of leading it and building it. And if you lead something and build something in Boston, that’s a legacy. And that could end up in the rafters (with a retired jersey number), OK. And you really can’t say that anywhere else.”
Indeed, Irving has said on more than one occasion that part of the allure of being a Boston Celtic, is the possibility that someday his number 11 jersey would hang high atop the rafters along with the franchise’s other luminaries who are regarded as some of the best to ever play in the NBA.
And for Boston to be in the driver’s seat in having a player with that kind of potential who has pledged his desire to stay here long term … that’s exactly what you want to hear if you are a team owner like Grousbeck.
And in a season with lots of expectations on a level this franchise has never had under sixth-year coach Brad Stevens, clarity on Irving’s long-term future can only benefit this team.
“This is an important one for us when you have a player of Kyrie’s caliber and character,” Grousbeck said. “You’ll love to know that he’ll consider you in the future and message received, gladly received and gratefully received. It takes two. You want to be there for him. I think he wants to be there for us. That’s the secret to success; people who feel that way, thinking about the other person and not just yourself. I’m very happy.”