Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving defended his leadership style while addressing the media Friday. Speaking to the reporters for the first time since Wednesday’s loss where he came under fire for saying the Nets have a “glaring” need for additional pieces to become title contenders. The star point guard doubled down on his controversial comments following practice on Friday.
Kyrie Irving with STRONG words at practice:
"It's not like I'm an ass—- yelling at everybody in the freaking locker room all the time … If it's harsh as a leader or it's too much for anybody, you're not in our locker room—stay the f— out." pic.twitter.com/peVcXQgsun
— SNY (@SNYtv) January 17, 2020
“I’m going to continue to push, I’m going to continue to demand greatness out of myself and demand greatness out of my teammates and we go from there,” Irving said. “If it’s harsh as a leader or too much for anybody if you’re not in our locker room, stay the f–k out. It’s as simple as that.”
Kyrie Irving and the Celtics locker room drama
Irving has often come under fire for things he has said about his teammates in the media, especially last season with the Boston Celtics.
Last January, at around the same time as these comments, Irving was critical of some of the Celtics’ young players, according to Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports:
“The young guys don’t know what it takes to be a championship-level team. What it takes every day. And if they think it is hard now, what do they think it will be like when we’re trying to get to the Finals?
“There were no expectations last year. Everyone played free and easy. Everyone surpassed whatever they expected for themselves. This year? We all have high expectations. The players, the coaches, everyone. And that’s good, but we aren’t doing it yet.”
ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan reported in May that Irving’s teammates were “treading lightly” at times due to his “mood swings.”
This seemed like an attempt to compensate for the fact the young team made to Eastern Conference Finals without him. This begged the question regarding his impact on the team when they couldn’t achieve the same, impacting his reputation. Kyrie looked like a person who is trying to hide his hurt pride by going off on others.
Effect on teammates
The NBA is star player-driven sport i.e star players have a lot of say in organisations decision. Any player has seen what players like Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma went through in Lakers. The Lakers had problems whatsoever putting their top prospects on the trade block for superstars. Now any Net must think Kyrie Irving could have them moved next as he is also from the LeBron James School.
That’s a bad feeling and hurts even more with a player who has worn the Nets jersey only 14 times. Especially since Irving’s recent behaviour with teammates is hardly impressive.
A potential blow over?
Irving talks like this often and maybe this gets all cleared up behind the scenes and everyone moves on with their day. Or maybe this is the start of something bigger all over again. The internal destruction of Boston Celtics from last season.
Playing in a new city is Irving’s chance to reinvent his leadership image. To show the world that he can act maturely and be a good teammate. This is not a great start.