Kyrie Irving and his current contentious relationship with the media shows why sometimes it's nice to be playing in the shadow of somebody else. But on Saturday, after the Celtics beat the nosediving Lakers 120-107, Kyrie spoke to reporter Chris Haynes on how he isn't totally blameless during his current, prolonged, and often written about back-and-forth with the press. He also spoke about the example he wants to provide for younger guys, and provided his argument for why starring in Uncle Drew doesn't mean he always wants to be the center of attention.
But first Kyrie spoke about how he got into bad habits by reading too much of the negative coverage.
“The way I’ve handled things, it hasn’t been perfect,” Irving said to Yahoo Sports in the locker room after Boston's win. “I’ve made a lot of mistakes that I take full responsibility for. I apologize. I haven’t done it perfectly. I haven’t said the right things all the time. I don’t want to sit on a place like I’m on a pedestal from anybody. I’m a normal human being that makes mistakes. For me, I think because of how fixated I was on trying to prove other people wrong, I got into a lot of habits that were bad, like reading stuff and reacting emotionally. That’s just not who I am.”
From there he spoke about how he was upset at the example he had set while giving the critique that some in media manufacture drama.
“Being one of the top guys in the league, this all comes with it,” Irving said. “It’s a responsibility that I have to make sure that I know who I’m doing this for and know why I’m doing this. It’s for the players that are coming behind me who will be in this league and setting an example for them on how to handle things and how to evolve within your career (...) I’m still learning, bro. I come from a suburb of New Jersey. I’m not used to all this [attention]."
As mentioned above, one of the criticisms that has been aired against Irving is that he didn't seem to mind all the attention he was getting when he starred in Uncle Drew last summer. During his talk with Yahoo he acknowledged that he heard that point, and also had a response for it. He also spoke about how ex-players might not understand how times have changed when they were in the league.
“My [Uncle Drew] character, I never took any acting classes. I didn’t put any extra work into it. It was just something I was able to do and it became this,” he said. “Look, I respect the ones that came before me, but they didn’t endure social media, the 24/7 news cycle. [NBA commissioner] Adam Silver was right; it really affects people in different ways. These are just different times. People are dealing with anxiety, depression and other disorders that affects their well-being. Some people can’t handle all of this, and we need to be mindful of that.
“The off-the-court stuff, that’s more the aspirational side of things where it’s not really so much about the game. That goes back to having a presence, a message that you want to get across to fans, to different industries that you want to become a part of. I don’t really have complaints about that. It’s just when you come into this business now, it’s more entertainment now more than anything else. That’s what bothers me the most. It’s like a freaking reality show at every corner. Everything that someone says is the next [big controversy]. Like I said before ... this breaks up locker rooms. Media breaks up locker rooms. It happens all the time, bro. Whether people want to admit or not, it really does.”
He wrapped things up by speaking about the example he hopes to set, even if he hasn't lived up to it at all times.
“I just want to make sure this locker room understands who I am and what I represent,” Irving relayed. “I’m trying to make sure that they set a great example for young players that are coming after them as well. Like I said, I haven’t said the right things and done all the right things, and I don’t ever want to compare myself to perfection. But I can tell that I’m definitely learning from the older players, the players that are my age and the younger players on how to deal with the evolution of just media. It’s a platform now, it’s an entire industry that bothers a lot of people, entertainers, athletes. Being at the click of a button and someone commenting on your life all the time and you’re seeing it. It doesn’t make you feel good when you’re feeding yourself that."
While it's hard to envision he'll just be able to stop worrying about this stuff, that's at least the current objective. Go check out the whole thing over at Yahoo.