The Boston Celtics are on a bit of a hot streak right now, having won three games in a row on their current West Coast road trip, which started with a dismantling of the defending champion Golden State Warriors and will continue Monday night when they face the Clippers (10:30 p.m. ET — Watch on Fubo TV with NBA TV add-on). This has been a much-needed turnaround for a Celtics team that was abysmal coming out of the All-Star break and has struggled to live up to lofty expectations this season.
At times, the Celtics’ frustration with how the season has gone has boiled over into their interactions with the media. Kyrie Irving, in particular, has had a number of notable dust-ups. In recent weeks he’s been upset about rampant speculation of a cell phone video that showed him talking with Kevin Durant during All-Star weekend, and also caught heat for saying he wouldn’t miss all the cameras as he was filmed walking into the Celtics’ national TV game against the Rockets.
In a recent conversation with veteran reporter Chris Haynes, Irving opened up about his rocky relationship with the media this season, admitting, “I haven’t done it perfectly. I haven’t said the right things all the time.” Via Yahoo Sports:
“The way I’ve handled things, it hasn’t been perfect,” Irving told Yahoo Sports as he rested his feet in a bucket of ice at his locker stall. “I’ve made a lot of mistakes that I take full responsibility for. I apologize. I haven’t done it perfectly. I haven’t said the right things all the time. I don’t want to sit on a place like I’m on a pedestal from anybody. I’m a normal human being that makes mistakes. For me, I think because of how fixated I was on trying to prove other people wrong, I got into a lot of habits that were bad, like reading stuff and reacting emotionally. That’s just not who I am.”
“Being one of the top guys in the league, this all comes with it,” Irving told Yahoo Sports. “It’s a responsibility that I have to make sure that I know who I’m doing this for and know why I’m doing this. It’s for the players that are coming behind me who will be in this league and setting an example for them on how to handle things and how to evolve within your career.”
“The off-the-court stuff, that’s more the aspirational side of things where it’s not really so much about the game. That goes back to having a presence, a message that you want to get across to fans, to different industries that you want to become a part of. I don’t really have complaints about that. It’s just when you come into this business now, it’s more entertainment now more than anything else. That’s what bothers me the most. It’s like a freaking reality show at every corner. Everything that someone says is the next [big controversy]. Like I said before … this breaks up locker rooms. Media breaks up locker rooms. It happens all the time, bro. Whether people want to admit or not, it really does.”
These are very mature comments from Irving, who has had his leadership questioned at times this season during the Celtics’ struggles. In recent days, however, he’s taken steps to try and improve in that regard. As Al Horford told the media, Kyrie was “instrumental” in bringing the team together on their long plane ride out West for this current road trip, which has gone well so far.
Additionally, following the Celtics’ win over the Lakers, Marcus Morris said of Irving, “He’s been great for us. Everybody been talking about how he want out and all this other s—, but he’s been great for us, a great leader.”
While Irving certainly has his fair share of reasonable critiques about the way media coverage works in the current day and age, as well as its effect on teams and players, these comments are yet another good sign for the Celtics that he’s trying to put all of that behind him. If the Celtics hope to still make some noise in the playoffs, they’re going to need Irving at his best, both as a player and a leader.