Kyrie Irving told Boston Celtics fans last year that he would re-sign with the team once he became a free agent.
That did not happen, of course, and Irving instead joined forces with Kevin Durant and signed with the Brooklyn Nets over the summer.
Yet, Irving’s reasoning for spurning Boston and signing with Brooklyn is much deeper than one might expect. At a press conference on Friday, Irving opened up about why he had a change of heart, citing personal struggles he dealt with over the course of last season.
“Nine months ago, I was sitting in front of the Boston crowd saying that I wanted to re-sign,” he said. “After that a lot of things happened in my personal life that really changed the landscape of how I felt about the game of basketball and actually playing it in a team environment, and that really affected me as a human being. I didn’t share it with anyone, I didn’t want to come out and say this is bothering me or say I’m in a depression at this point of dealing with the death of my grandfather.
“When all this happened and the NBA and the ‘pressures’ from this basketball game came into free agency and what I was doing with my future, I wanted to dispel all those things, but I don’t think it in the right way of being honest with how I felt.”
Irving’s grandfather passed on Oct. 23 as the regular season was starting. He said he had never dealt with losing someone close to him before and admitted it affected his ability to prioritize basketball.
Irving expressed some regret on how he handled things last season.
“Throughout that year, I just became rocky and a lot of the battles that I thought I could battle through from the team environment, I just wasn’t ready for,” he said. “And I failed those guys in a sense that I didn’t give them everything that I could have during that season, especially with the amount of pieces that we had. My relationship with them personally were great, but in terms of me being a leader in that environment and bringing everyone together, I failed.”
Irving said he hopes that is one thing he will be better at with Brooklyn.
“I just wanted to come here with a fresh mindset and make sure I’m honest with my teammates going forward,” he said. “And also reverting back to apologizing to guys that I’ve been with and been teammates with, to make sure that they know … hey, this is a game, but also our lives come into this. And when it affects our livelihood and affects our happiness to play basketball, then the product, or our service out there on the floor, is not great. And that’s just what it is.”
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