When Kyrie Irving was with the Boston Celtics in 2018, he posted on Twitter that his father was the reason he wore No. 11. He followed that with the statement that he wanted to be the reason nobody else wore that number.
Fast forward to 2019 when the Celtics signed center Enes Kanter in July. At the Celtics’ introductory press conference, Kanter, who had worn No. 11 in the past, was asked why he selected to wear the number in Boston and gave a response to mock Irving, who left to sign a deal with the Brooklyn Nets. “It was my old jersey number, by the way, No. 11,” Kanter said. “And I want to be the reason no one else will wear it.”
This week, Kanter posted another tweet that could have been another dig at Irving.
Kyrie Irving’s tough time in Boston
What appeared to begin as a healthy marriage between Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics turned ugly after just two seasons. At a season-ticket holder gathering, the oft-injured Irving announced he would play to re-sign with the team when his contract was up ‘if you guys would have me back.’
In his first season with the team, Irving missed 22 regular-season games and was out for the postseason because of a knee injury. The Celtics, without Irving and newly signed Gordon Hayward, still managed to reach the Eastern Conference Finals, losing to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 7 in Boston.
The Celtics’ success that season led to high hopes for the 2018-19 season, but chemistry issues in the locker room were widely reported and even addressed by Celtics GM Danny Ainge, who wouldn’t place the blame solely on Irving.
“Listen, I just don’t think our chemistry was good. And again, it’s not just Kyrie, it’s – there’s a lot of people involved that form the chemistry of a team. And I know that from day 1, a lot of people put a lot of heat on Kyrie of being the guy that’s supposed to be this great leader and it was his responsibility to lead everybody.”
Irving’s departure and response from Boston Celtics fans
While hopes were high for the Boston Celtics in Kyrie Irving’s second season with the team, the C’s struggled, finishing fourth in the Eastern Conference with a 49-33 record. Although the Celtics swept the Indiana Pacers in the opening round of the playoffs and then shocked the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the first game on the Eastern Conference semifinals, Irving and the Celtics quickly fell apart.
Milwaukee won the next four games to advance to the conference finals, eliminating the Celtics and ending Irving’s time in Boston. During that series against the Bucks, Irving was woeful. He took 104 shots in the five-game series, 41 more than Al Horford, the second Celtics player on the attempts list. Irving made just 37 shots.
Irving entered free agency after the season and signed with the Brooklyn Nets. During the Nets’ two games in Boston this season, Irving was a no-show because of injury. His absence, however, didn’t stop the Boston fans from taunting during the game as they shouted ‘Where is Kyrie’ and ‘Kyrie sucks.’
Famed Boston Globe reporter Jackie MacMullan reported on the toxic situation in the Celtics locker room, saying at one point Irving refused to autograph team basketballs that were to be signed for charity, saying ‘I’m not interested in that.’
Enes Kanter’s latest tweet
With all the negative talk about team chemistry when Kyrie Irving was a member of the Boston Celtics, Enes Kanter, on Monday, tweeted about the Celtics having great team chemistry.
While the NBA has announced that three players have tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19), Kanter tweeted the Celtics had tested positive for having the best locker room in the NBA.
While he’s hardly the player Kyrie Irving is on the court, the free-spirited Kanter has been a key for the Celtics bench and a pleasant addition in the locker room.