Aside from his struggles in the conference semifinals where he averaged 20.4 points and 6.4 assists per game, but shot only 35.6 percent from the field and 21.9 percent from downtown, the focus turned to a side of Kyrie that we never see. How was Irving as a leader? How was Irving in the locker room?
With Kyrie’s future with the Celtics up in the air, an anonymous player on the team sounded off to Stadium’s Jeff Goodman about his negative experience playing with the six-time All-Star. “Everyone respects his talent,” an anonymous Celtics player told Goodman earlier this season. “But he’s hard to play with. It’s all about him.”
While this remark makes Irving look bad, it’s the opinion of just one player. It definitely does not reflect how his Celtics teammate Marcus Smart feels about him.
On Wednesday, Smart called “bullshit” when reporters asked if Kyrie is responsible for how this season unfolded. “That's bullshit. Not one of us on this team know what Kyrie's been through...It was hard for him as well," he said. "He had to come into a situation knowing that this is a group of guys that had something going before [he came] here."
On the other hand, the idea that Irving’s demeanor has rubbed his teammates the wrong way echoes a sentiment that has followed him his entire career. It’s difficult to figure out what Kyrie will do this summer, but it’s probably in his best interest to take a role that will allow him to be in the backseat.
Irving is an incredibly talented basketball player and “genius,” but when it comes to the media relations aspect of the job, he simply isn’t built for everything that is required of today's superstars in the league.