Kyrie Irving says death of grandfather sucked joy out of game for him, led to Boston issues
The narrative has been out there for a while. Last fall Kyrie Irving was standing in front of a crowd of Celtics season ticket holders saying he wanted to re-sign in Boston. Then within a few months things had turned — the Celtics were struggling on the court as players didn’t adjust to Irving dominating the ball, there were chemistry issues in the locker room (only some of which have come to public light), and the Celtics’ season became a disappointing slog. By the end of the season Celtics fans were ready to run Irving out of town, and he bolted to Brooklyn with Kevin Durant.
However, there is always context to a story like that.
Irving provided some of that at Brooklyn media day Friday, saying that his grandfather passed away around the start of last season and that took him mentally out of the game, taking him to a darker place, and with that he failed the Celtics players. It ultimately led to him wanting out of Boston.
Kyrie Irving on his grandfather dying last Oct. "After he passed, basketball was the last thing on my mind." Didn't seek the necessary counseling to cope & responded poorly. Added that, "I failed those guys" in Boston for not being the leader they needed him to be.— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) September 27, 2019
kyrie says “things just got really, really rocky for me” after he went to his grandfather’s memorial last october, and the joy he had for basketball was “sucked away from me”— James Herbert (@outsidethenba) September 27, 2019
Kyrie Irving said his grandfather's passing two weeks after his commitment to re-sign with the #Celtics led to him doing some "uncharacteristic" things. "I failed those guys. It was a huge learning experience." Said his personal life became his No. 1 priority. #Nets— gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) September 27, 2019
Irving would be far from the first player to have his personal life bleed into his game on the court and into the locker room. Anyone who has been through the death of a close family member knows it can throw you for a loop.
It also doesn’t change anything about the Celtics season, how it ended, or where all this left Boston in its quest to build a contender. The Celtics are still cleaning up the mess of last season as they head into this one, and Irving created a lot of it.
This just provides a little context. We tend to think of players as two dimensional, what we see in highlights and how they help our fantasy teams, but they are people dealing with the same issues you and I are with family and friends. They just do it in a fishbowl. As fans, we need to keep that in mind, it doesn’t always mean forgiveness, but at least an understanding.