Kyrie Irving and his Celtics were in New York Saturday night, where Trey Burke's missed free throw gave them a tighter-than-expected 103-101 win over the Knicks. While he was in town, Irving revealed to the New York Daily News that New York was a serious contender when he was thinking about his impending free agency this summer.
"Every team was under consideration but obviously New York held a special place for me," Irving said. "Just being from Jersey and obviously envisioning myself as a free agent and ultimately taking a meeting and playing for [Knicks coach David Fizdale] and a great young core that they have here."
Irving grew up only 15 miles from Madison Square Garden, in West Orange, New Jersey. But it wasn't just proximity to his old hood that had Irving thinking of playing home games at basketball's Mecca.
"Thinking about playing with [Kristaps Porzingis]," he continued. "That was a big thing before I made my decision just to to plan on re-signing back with Boston." Earlier in October, Irving told the Boston crowd he planned to resign with the Celtics when he becomes a free agent this summer.
On paper, the Celtics are the most talented team in the East, with a mix of young (Jaylen Brown) and old (big Al Horford) that's the envy of everyone outside the Bay. Plus, 2017 All-Star Gordon Hayward is still rounding into form for a team that was one game away from the Finals last season despite major injuries.
"I think if you were in my position I think it would be an easy decision," Irving noted. "Thinking about who we have and the future and what we’re set up for. For me it was — where I am in age and how I envision my career going and kind of the lineage of guys that have come before me in the Boston Celtics is something I wanted to be a part of."
And while New York definitely has a tug on his heart because of how close he grew up, he also has a personal connection to Boston: His parents met there.
It's still a long time before free agency starts in July, and a lot can happen in that time, but Irving is rubbing salt in the wound for Knicks fans who were dreaming big.