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 highway recreation on Christmas Day, however due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been no followers in attendance at the recreation.
Now, Irving will lastly get to play in entrance of an enviornment stuffed with Celtics followers in Games 3 and 4 of the collection. On Friday, he’ll play in entrance of a stadium at 25 p.c capability. After that, it might increase to one hundred pc, as the state of Massachusetts lifts its COVID restrictions.
Irving will certainly be booed heartily in his return to Boston after the means that he exited the staff.
But why precisely did Irving leave the Celtics? And why did Boston followers take his departure so onerous? Here’s every little thing you want to find out about Irving’s tumultuous last 12 months with the Celtics.
Why did Kyrie Irving leave the Celtics for the Nets?
Irving left the Celtics as a result of he needed to return nearer to his New Jersey dwelling. He confirmed as a lot in his 2019 media day availability with the Nets, and his determination 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 vital 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 needed to re-sign. So all through the 12 months, it began turning into increasingly clear that my relationship inside my dwelling life had a means increased priority than the group or anybody,” Irving stated.
“Throughout that 12 months, [things] simply turned rocky and lots of the battles I assumed I might battle via from that staff atmosphere, I simply wasn’t prepared for. I failed these guys in a way that I did not give them every little thing that I might 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 joyful 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 company 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 identical angle. They simply needed 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 lots 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 smartest thing I can say is expertise, we’re missing it and due to that we have now lots of studying to do, so we have now lots of floor to make up in that side. You know, it will get robust. When it will get onerous, you may have to assume. You have to do the proper issues. You cannot gamble and assume that it is going to be the profitable play. You have to have the option to play via the full 48 minutes, it doesn’t matter what’s happening and maintain your head excessive whenever you make errors,” Irving stated, per WEEI. “When your job is known as upon, you may 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 enjoying 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 recreation.
“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 have faith in Boston and what they will promise for the future and what we have now in phrases of items. That’s what excited me at the starting of the season.”
“… It’s my determination at the finish of the day. Who cares who stated what’s greatest 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 greatest 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 decide (Nets)
- Two 2020 second-round picks
That first-round decide that the Cavaliers acquired turned level guard Collin Sexton, who averaged 24.3 factors, 4.4 assists and three.1 rebounds per recreation this 12 months for the Cavaliers.
The unique framework of the deal had just one second-round decide going Cleveland’s means, however after they got here away from Isaiah Thomas’ bodily discouraged with what it confirmed, Boston agreed to ship one other decide their means. Thomas had suffered a hip damage the earlier season and had surgical procedure to restore the subject.