Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving has been criticized for his leadership skills dating back to his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The point guard recently apologized for publicly questioning his Boston teammates after calling them out earlier this week. This led some to wonder about his relationship with his previous co-workers in Cleveland.
When he spoke with ESPN’s Zach Lowe on a podcast appearance, Bill Simmons shared an interesting anecdote about the Boston star (via The Ringer):
“He carries a lot with these guys because they idolize him. He’s one of the best basketball players in the league. And when he says anything, it matters. And I don’t know … By all accounts, he was pretty strange in Cleveland … I remember somebody who played on the team in the last season told me that there would just be weeks where he was out of the loop. Like, they didn’t know what was going on with him. He wouldn’t talk to anybody.”
Simmons spoke about how he once believed that Irving was an “alpha dog,” but he no longer believes that’s the case given what he’s seen from Kyrie this year. It’s a fascinating takeaway about the 2016 NBA Champion.
This is not the first time we have heard about Irving being an aloof member of his team. In fact, it may have even hindered some of his trade value before Cleveland traded him to Boston.
Dave McMenamin said it’s why the Phoenix Suns may not have wanted Irving on their roster (via BBall Breakdown Podcast):
“Phoenix, of course, hired James Jones this offseason. He’s been inside that locker room. He’s seen Kyrie Irving — I think I reported this on SportsCenter this week — he saw Kyrie Irving in the playoffs this year — in between the first round when they beat Indiana and the second round when they played Toronto — go consecutive days without speaking to a teammate at practice. On that stage. It’s one thing to say people go through ups and downs during the regular season. But when you get to the playoffs, when the main thing is the main thing, and we’re brothers and pulling together to get this thing done, even at that level there were still things that made him sullen or reclusive from his teammates. I’m not so sure if Phoenix would be interested in that type of deal.”
If he had been acting sullen and reclusive as a teammate in Boston, it’s easy to see why some Celtics may have been rubbed the wrong way if Irving finally broke his silence and emerged from his own world just to call them out.
Of course, his sour mood in Cleveland may have been purely a product of playing alongside LeBron James and constantly questioning his role as the No. 2 player on the team. Irving should not have that same problem on Boston, where he is clearly the team’s best player.
With that said, if Irving does not improve his intrapersonal skills, it may cost him in the long run.