Written By: Austin Philippi
Ever since Kyrie Irving was drafted there has been an intense amount of buzz around him, from being the first number one pick Cleveland had since Lebron departed, or his flashy play and style that left fans craving even more. He apparently was also craving more, and isn’t happy seeing others succeed and get the praise he believes he rightfully deserves. Kyrie didn’t want to be in Lebron’s shadow anymore and demanded a trade and at first everyone started relating it to Shaq-Kobe. They and maybe you wondered what Lebron did wrong as a teammate that could have caused Kyrie Irving to want to leave Cleveland. Earlier in his career with Lebron in Cleveland I thought Kyrie had a chance to be the next best player in the world after Lebron. Due to his age and the fact I thought he’d be in the NBA Finals with Lebron for 5-8 straight years, I thought the experience would help Kyrie become like the next Kobe Bryant but even better. I was wrong, behind the scenes Kyrie wasn’t under LeBron’s wing or accepting his role like I believed at the time. Winning and being viewed as LeBron’s second fiddle was never something Kyrie was interested in. Why would he choose to leave the Cavaliers only to not be able to win or compete for a championship without him? Only what people left out is the Celtics have been stockpiling assets for years for this moment to be young and on the cusp of greatness and would be good regardless of Kyrie. Kyrie and the Celtics did however get off to a hot start to the season quickly changing that narrative that he couldn’t win without Lebron. The new narrative however after yet another major knee injury forcing him to miss time by seasons end is that the Celtics are just as good without Kyrie, and they didn’t need him to win or even possibly win the East. Irving being the Diva he so clearly is doesn’t like the attention not being on him. He simply put wants to be the man. But, shouldn’t the man be worth more to his team than one game?
The Cavaliers this season seemed to struggle at times and had narratives that they couldn’t compete for a championship with LeBron’s new supporting cast. While that turned out to be right as they were swept out of their own building in a 4-game series, what went unnoticed is Kyrie not being there didn’t make that much off a difference after all. The Cavaliers still had some competitive games and even had chances to win a few games but alas fell short every time. Kyrie being on the team gave the Cavaliers one more game on the Warriors than they got without him. While you may argue they could have used kyrie in this NBA Finals I don’t think he’d have made a difference. He is an extraordinary talent, but his own ego gets in the way. Lebron saw this and tried to appease his needs as Kyrie took more shot attempts per game in their last season together. This I believed was the reason the cavaliers didn’t compete further last season against the warriors as Kyrie can make bad decisions down the stretch of ball games. He did make “The Shot”, so we must give him credit for some ability to close and close big.
Let’s take a bigger sample size because that is just the NBA finals after all. Go back and look over the course of this entire season for the Cavaliers and they won 50 games despite all their apparent struggles, which is just one game less than Kyrie won with the Cavaliers the year prior. Ok, maybe its starting to just be a trend I mean it was just the Cavaliers team after all and they did receive some talent in exchange for Kyrie it wasn’t like he left in Free Agency and they didn’t get anything. Cavaliers continued to fight on throughout the entire year through multiple sets of trades that constantly change their team. When Lebron left Cleveland the first time around they were awful without him, granted this isn’t the same situation as the Cavaliers got talent back this time. However, in a league full of narratives I believe Kyrie Irving isn’t a superstar worth more to a winning basketball team than one game a few at max. I know this may sound like I’m just hating but the proof is right in front of you that while Irving is extremely talented, he isn’t that conducive to helping his team win many additional games.
Still think it’s just a coincidence? Do you think the Cavs just got some talent back in their trade and Lebron playing all 82 games for the first time allowed them to win basically the same amount of games and have basically the same result as the previous season?
Fine let’s move on to the Celtics then and how they were
-53-29 (.646) the previous season W/Out Kyrie.
-With Kyrie Irving last NBA season the Celtics were 40-20 (.667) just about one game better as well.
However, that isn’t exactly one game and I don’t want you to have any cop outs by the end of this article so obviously since Kyrie Irving missed time I have the record (14-8) (63.6%) for the Celtics without him this NBA season as well. Which if you expand that out over the course of 82 games Kyrie ends up being worth about one game more to the Celtics. Granted this was a slightly smaller sample size.
The real take away from this is Kyrie Irving still hasn’t proved he can win or be “The Man” as the leader of an organization. The Celtics as an organization over the course of 20 games and the playoffs in which they were a Game away from the NBA Finals without him realize this too. Kyrie doing himself no favor when he decides to not show up for the Celtics in Game 7 of the ECF because he needed to choose that ONE GAME to be a diva and get minor nasal surgery. This started rumors that Kyrie could be unhappy in Boston, this time with no Lebron James there to blame. He wasn’t happy seeing others succeed without him, or the narrative starting to grow that Celtics didn’t need Kyrie to be this good. The new narrative is fans expect Hayward and Irving to come back from injury and be able to lead the Celtics to an NBA Finals or at least for sure past Lebron James (if he stays in the east).
*Update: The day after the Knicks put together the cap room they would need to get get Kyrie and KD or a mix of two max free agents Kyrie changed his tune even more from recent weeks. In which he also even called and apologized to Lebron James a few weeks ago. Siting the youth of his teammates and that he wanted to apologize for being that young teammate.
Oct. 4, 2018: “If you guys will have me back, I plan on re-signing here.”
Feb. 1, 2019: “Ask me July 1…I don’t owe anybody shit.”
This season nothing has changed as the Celtics are
6-2 (75% Win%) W/Out Irving
26-17 (60.5% Win%) W/Irving
66-37 (64.1%) W/Irving
20-10 (66.7%) W/Out Irving