The Boston Celtics seemed to have better chemistry last year when Kyrie Irving was out with an injury, but it would be a shock if any member of the organization admitted that publicly. That is, unless they were doing so anonymously.
As part of a piece he wrote about Irving preventing the Celtics from fulfilling expectations, Jeff Goodman of Stadium revealed that one Boston player told him Kyrie is “hard to play with” even though his talent is undeniable.
“Everyone respects his talent, but he’s hard to play with,” the player said. “It’s all about him.”
Irving wants to prove he can be a leader like LeBron James was when the two played together in Cleveland, but he seems to put the finger elsewhere anytime something goes wrong. He said on numerous occasions this season that part of the Celtics’ problem was the inexperience of his younger teammates, and another member of the organization said that attitude took a toll on the team.
“He takes the air out of the locker room,” the person told Goodman. “And you just never know what you’re going to get with him.”
While it’s not exactly a secret, people with the Cavaliers apparently felt the same way about Irving. One Cavs source tried to sum it up for Goodman.
“Doesn’t want to listen to anybody,” the source said. “I’ve been around more selfish guys, but when you add up those three — moody, immature and tough to coach — he doesn’t have a leg to stand on.”
For what it’s worth, Marcus Smart adamantly defended Irving against all of the leadership criticism on Thursday. Others may do the same, but there are almost certainly people in the locker room who would not be upset to see him go.