Kyrie Irving's departure from Boston and the Celtics' early success without Irving has been a storyline to follow during the young NBA season. Another plot twist is his shoulder injury, which Kendrick Perkins believes Irving "planned" to avoid Boston.
"Kyrie looked at the schedule before the season started and planned this whole injury thing because he didn’t want to go back to Boston this upcoming week," Perkins tweeted on Friday. "He didn’t want that smoke in the Bean Town." Some NBA fans seem to agree with Perkins.
On Wednesday, reports surfaced about how Irving's nagging shoulder injury hasn't gotten better. The point guard is expected to miss the team's upcoming three-game road trip, including against his old team on Nov. 27. This would have been Irving's first trip to Boston since leaving in the offseason.
Heading into last year, Boston was one of the favorites to make it out of the Eastern Conference, and Kyrie told fans in a pre-season rally that he would re-sign with the Celtics. But they struggled and Irving reneged on this promise by telling reporters that he doesn't "owe anyone shit." These comments added to rumors of Kyrie's distant behavior and lack of leadership skills. Celtics legend Paul Pierce said the way Irving left Boston was unprecedented and fans would have responded with the "loudest boos in league history."
The Celtics have flourished since Irving left: They're currently sitting at third in the East and young stars like Jayson Tatum have stepped up in his absence.
Although some may think Perkins is trolling, he referenced the possibility of Irving prolonging his injury earlier this week.
"It's just something with him. He's showing us who he is," Perkins told a Boston sports talk radio station on Thursday. "All of a sudden, two weeks before he has to return to Boston he's injured. Sounds like a setup plan to me.... This probably was pre-rehearsed from the jump. He didn't want to come back and face this. We're looking at a guy who's mentally weak."
Irving has been skipping out on playing his old teams for a while. Since forcing his way out of Cleveland in 2017, he's only hit the floor once against the Cavs.