For the first time since leaving the Celtics throughout the summer time of 2019, Kyrie Irving is returning to the TD Garden and can play in entrance of followers.
During the 2019-20 season with the Nets, Irving was inactive for each of the video games he performed in Boston, as he handled a shoulder damage that plagued him all through the 12 months. This 12 months, he performed the Nets’ lone New England street sport on Christmas Day, however due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been no followers in attendance at the sport.
Now, Irving will lastly get to play in entrance of an area filled with Celtics followers in Games 3 and 4 of the sequence. On Friday, he’ll play in entrance of a stadium at 25 p.c capability. After that, it will possibly develop to 100%, as the state of Massachusetts lifts its COVID restrictions.
Irving will certainly be booed heartily in his return to Boston after the method that he exited the group.
But why precisely did Irving leave the Celtics? And why did Boston followers take his departure so laborious? Here’s every part you want to find out about Irving’s tumultuous remaining 12 months with the Celtics.
Why did Kyrie Irving leave the Celtics for the Nets?
Irving left the Celtics as a result of he wished to return nearer to his New Jersey residence. He confirmed as a lot in his 2019 media day availability with the Nets, and his choice to leave was influenced by the passing of his grandfather early in the 2018-19 NBA season.
“After he passed, basketball was the last thing on my mind,” Irving said. “A lot of basketball and the joy I had from it was sucked away from me. There was a facial expression that I carried around with me throughout the year. Didn’t allow anyone to get close to me in that instance, and it really bothered me.
“I didn’t take the needed steps to get counseling or get remedy or something to take care of somebody that shut to me dying. I’ve by no means handled something like that, so, for me, I responded in ways in which have been uncharacteristic, and I had to acknowledge that reality.”
Irving did talk to the Celtics about the issue and he expressed a desire to re-sign. However, after reflecting more on his grandfather’s death and how basketball prevented Irving from seeing him before his passing, his thought process started to shift.
“I talked to Danny [Ainge] and I wished to re-sign. So all through the 12 months, it began changing into increasingly clear that my relationship inside my residence life had a method greater priority than the group or anybody,” Irving stated.
“Throughout that 12 months, [things] simply turned rocky and a variety of the battles I believed I may battle by way of from that group surroundings, I simply wasn’t prepared for. I failed these guys in a way that I did not give them every part that I may have throughout that season, particularly with the items that we had.”
After the disappointing season, Irving made the exit that he had been building to and went to play for the Nets. That allowed him an opportunity to play closer to home and also gave him the luxury of playing alongside Kevin Durant, who also signed with Brooklyn. It also paired him with another veteran leader that had a history of championship-level success.
That took some of the pressure that he “simply wasn’t prepared for” off the table.
Timeline of Kyrie Irving’s departure from the Celtics
Before Irving’s final season in Boston, he committed to remaining with the team at an Oct. 4 preseason fan event.
“If you guys will have me back, I plan on re-signing here,” Irving stated to the Boston crowd, per NBA.com.
The next day, Irving continued to praise the Celtics for “taking an opportunity” on him and that he enjoyed playing in Boston.
“I’m pleased right here,” Irving stated, per ESPN. “Every single day is at an all-time aggressive excessive. What extra are you able to ask for from a corporation than taking an opportunity so far as getting me out of Cleveland? Really taking an opportunity no matter whether or not I signed again or not.”
“They had the similar angle. They simply wished to present me what being a Celtic is about, and that I used to be going to come round, and I completely did. I imagine in it. I imagine in the franchise.”
And then, Irving commented that he wanted to see his jersey in the TD Garden rafters one day along with the retired numbers of other Celtics greats.
“I’ve each intention of signing with Boston subsequent 12 months. I do have a dream of placing my No. 11 in the rafters in the future if I’m so blessed to try this,” Irving stated, per NBC Sports Boston. “I’ve labored my tail off, clearly a variety of nice gamers have come earlier than me, however to throw my identify in Boston Celtics custom and historical past is one thing I’m glad I can do. And I’m planning on doing so.”
However, as the season went along, there appeared to be growing tension within the Celtics team and frustration on Irving’s part. That came to a head after a Jan. 2019 game against the Magic after Gordon Hayward gave a late-game inbounds pass to Jayson Tatum to try to let the then-rookie win the game. Irving didn’t take kindly to that and screamed at Hayward after the play.
Irving apparently wanted a chance at the last shot, or at least to touch the ball. And after the Celtics’ loss, he spoke about the team’s lack of experience and how he differed from his teammates.
“The neatest thing I can say is expertise, we’re missing it and due to that we’ve got a variety of studying to do, so we’ve got a variety of floor to make up in that facet. You know, it will get robust. When it will get laborious, you might have to assume. You have to do the proper issues. You cannot gamble and assume that it is going to be the successful play. You have to have the opportunity to play by way of the full 48 minutes, it doesn’t matter what’s occurring and maintain your head excessive while you make errors,” Irving stated, per WEEI. “When your job known as upon, you might have to do it to the better of your capability. You have to come in and make an influence for the minutes that you just’re taking part in on the market.
“You have to appreciate to be out there and just competing. It doesn’t matter who you’re going against, it matters the type of preparation you have — what you’re going out and trying to accomplish. What’s the big picture? What are we doing here? These are a lot of things that I don’t think that some of my teammates have faced just every single day. It’s not easy to be great.”
Shortly thereafter, Irving walked again on his want to rejoin the Celtics. Per NBC Sports Boston, here is what he stated on Feb. 1, 2019, three weeks after the Orlando sport.
“At the end of the day, I’m going to do what’s best for my career,” Irving stated. “I spent the last eight years trying to do what everyone else wanted me to do — managers, other personnel — and I don’t owe anybody s—.
“I nonetheless believe in Boston and what they will promise for the future and what we’ve got in phrases of items. That’s what excited me at the starting of the season.”
“… It’s my choice at the finish of the day. Who cares who stated what’s finest for him, like, it doesn’t matter. It’s unwarranted commentary, and naturally it’s going to proceed all through the season. I’m conscious of that. I’m an expert, I’m not going to disrespect anyone however like I stated, it actually comes down to what’s finest for me and my household.”
That comment was marked a major shift in Irving’s tenor and seemed to indicate that he was thinking about — if not, planning to — leave the Celtics.
Later that month at the NBA All-Star Game, Irving had a discussion with Kevin Durant, who was then on the Warriors. There was plenty of speculation about what the two were discussing — perhaps a team up in Brooklyn — but after being asked about it, Irving said that he was merely talking to one of his best friends.
“I don’t have a private life when I’m out there in the NBA,” Irving stated, per The Boston Globe. “Somebody wants to take a video, it is what it is. Pour water on [the speculation]? I’m a human being talking to another best friend of mine. It’s just crazy.
“This is the stuff that just doesn’t make the league fun. Nobody helps promote the league by doing [expletive] like that. Just fictitious, putting things on like what we’re talking about, it’s crazy. I guess that’s what you want, huh?”
Irving’s future remained in doubt for the rest of the season. The Celtics continued to stumble along until the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Bucks. Irving shot 25-for-83 over their final four games of the season against Milwaukee, each losses, and that marked the end of the season.
Then, of course, Irving signed with the Nets in free agency and completed an exit that went from improbable to expected in a matter of months.
What did the Celtics trade for Kyrie Irving?
The Celtics acquired Kyrie Irving from the Cavaliers on Aug. 30, 2017, in a four-player deal. Boston sent three players and three draft picks to get the All-Star point guard.
Here’s a look at the details of the trade:
- PG Isaiah Thomas
- SF/PF Jae Crowder
- C Ante Zizic
- 2018 first-round draft choose (Nets)
- Two 2020 second-round picks
That first-round choose that the Cavaliers acquired turned level guard Collin Sexton, who averaged 24.3 factors, 4.4 assists and three.1 rebounds per sport this 12 months for the Cavaliers.
The unique framework of the deal had just one second-round choose going Cleveland’s method, however after they got here away from Isaiah Thomas’ bodily discouraged with what it confirmed, Boston agreed to ship one other choose their method. Thomas had suffered a hip damage the earlier season and had surgical procedure to restore the difficulty.