Nets' Irving - 'I failed' my Celtics teammates

Ruben Hill
September 27, 2019

Gordon Hayward suffered a season-ending injury in the first five minutes of the season and Irving's ill-timed injury left a young Celtics squad without two of their highest-paid, highest-touted players throughout a deep playoff run. Hey, I think I want to re-sign here, if you guys have me - Boston crowd was huge. This summer, Irving signed a four-year, $141 million contract to team up with Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets. Like I said, I had to acknowledge that fact.

Brooklyn will already be without one of its superstars as Irving's fellow free agent superstar, Kevin Durant, is not expected to play after signing with the Nets this offseason as he's recovering from an achilles tear suffered in the 2019 NBA Finals with the Golden State Warriors. The Celtics were shaping up to be the East favorites a year ago and Irving got caught up in the exuberance. "After that, a lot of things happened in my personal life that really changed the landscape of how I felt about the game of basketball and actually playing it in a team environment and that really affected me as a human being".

When James left Cleveland to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers that offseason and the Celtics returned almost the exact same roster while having both of the aforementioned stars returning to the lineup, they become heavy favourites to represent the East in the NBA Finals in 2019. 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.

Weeks later, though, Irving's grandfather passed away. And, according to Irving, that experience changed him entirely past year.

Although Irving called basketball "the last thing on [his] mind" at the time, he took little time away following the death, only canceling a talk at Harvard and missing the November 9 game in Utah to attend the memorial.

Nets' Irving - 'I failed' my Celtics teammates
Nets' Irving - 'I failed' my Celtics teammates

"The joy I had for [basketball] was sucked away for me", Irving said. "I'm going to be a protector of that all throughout the year and not allow anyone to infiltrate that circle of, 'Hey K, do you, get right, we'll be fine'". 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 were uncharacteristic, and I had to acknowledge that fact.

"Now, I'm here to protect that", he said.

Irving talked about turning a new page in Brooklyn and went as far as saying he wants he and Durant to "end their careers together" with the Nets. He said he could have done more.

"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?" he asked.

Irving added some context to the decision, noting that the Celtics were a surprise team to trade for him. But he acknowledged that he did not carry himself that way during last season and that it cost the team.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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