Rough is an understatement when describing the start of the 2018-2019 season for the Boston Celtics.
A year that was supposed to be fun-filled with a lot of winning has been underwhelming. Kyrie Irving has been looked at as the leader of this team but he’s quickly learning that that task is not easy.
Coming off three bad losses, the Celtics currently hold the No. 5 slot in the Eastern Conference.
While it’s not a bad position to hold, many envisioned this team being either No. 1 or No. 2.
Irving has been taking the brunt of criticism due to his actions during and after a recent loss to the Orlando Magic.
Coming out of the huddle, Irving was seen discussing the final play of the game that was drawn up by Brad Stevens, and Irving didn’t look happy.
Following the play, we saw Irving in disgust with Gordon Hayward for his decision to throw Jayson Tatum the ball instead of dumping it into Al Horford. After the game, reporters found the Celtic point guard and he chalked their regressions to inexperience.
Here’s Kyrie’s full response on the Celtics lacking experience: pic.twitter.com/MPSxczGyBY
— Chris Grenham (@chrisgrenham) January 13, 2019
This was a learning moment for the eight-year guard.
Media members killed him for his comments which led to headlines of “not ready for leadership.”
As one would assume, his teammates weren’t happy with his words either.
Jaylen Brown emphasized the need to not point fingers following their loss to the Brooklyn Nets.
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) January 15, 2019
After coming to his senses, Irving quickly went back on his comments and vowed not to question his teammates in the media again.
“Sometimes I may come off and say things, never to question my teammates in public like that ever again. It’s uh… I just want to win so bad." pic.twitter.com/nUkLb7L8jQ
— Chris Grenham (@chrisgrenham) January 14, 2019
While Irving has eight years under his belt, a Larry O’Brien trophy, and the experience of coming back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals, he’s still a young player.
He’s learning the leadership role on the fly. Many are looking to bash him for his recent comments but I don’t blame him for it.
We’ve seen many players take this same approach before and it’s either a hit or miss.
Their teammates either respond positively or it’s vice-versa. It’s something that he experienced in Cleveland playing next to LeBron James.
Irving must use his experience has a Cavaliers playing alongside James as a stepping stone. A lot of the things he endured and dealt with, he didn’t like which ultimately led to his departure.
Things like James talking to the media and referring to Irving and others as “kids” were all building blocks that led to Irving packing his bags. He can’t forget that because he’s slowly showing us glimpses of himself using those same practices.
Despite all of that, I’m not quick to call Irving a terrible leader. Quiet as kept, if you watch some of his on-court actions, they would say otherwise.
On the court, he’s been doing everything he can to get others involved. He’s having the highest assist season of his career with 6.4 per game.
Early and often in games, Irving is looking to get guys involved.
At times I think it’s a detriment to his team that he’s being so passive but that balance is something that he has to figure out. A balance that a lot of the scoring greats battled with as leaders.
He’s done a lot of the small things as well such as leading by example by playing hard. He’s out there taking charges, helping guys up, and vocally supporting and encouraging his teammates. While those things may not seem big in retrospect, they’re signs of leadership.
It’s no question that times are hard for the Celtics.
They’re being battle-tested and they’re not playing to their full potential. Hayward is still trying to find his legs. Stevens is trying to find the right balance in minutes. Shots are not falling as a whole for this team. Guys are even tussling on the sidelines during timeouts.
Jaylen Brown and Marcus Morris had to get separated during a timeout…
(via ahubbtho/IG) pic.twitter.com/1EyBZyzvUn
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 11, 2019
They’re struggling as a whole but the bright spot is that they’re still a lot of games left.
This team goes as Irving goes. While his current actions haven’t put him in the best light, I’m sure not going to kill him for it. A lot of basketball has yet to be played and Irving and the Celtics have time to figure things out.