Kyrie Irving Blasted by Jay Williams for Hugging and Smiling With Celtics Players Following Game 4 Loss

The Brooklyn Nets are currently at the center of every joke on social media. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving thought they built a super team, but they instead suffered a sweep to the Boston Celtics in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

A disappointing outcome like that would likely bother many athletes, but that didn’t seem to be the case for Irving. After the Nets’ Game 4 loss, the point guard spent time hugging and smiling with his former Celtics teammates.

Those interactions rubbed former hoops star Jay Williams the wrong way. The commentator even sent out stern message about Irving on ESPN the next morning.

Jay Williams called out Kyrie Irving for smiling with Celtics players

Kyrie Irving has justifiably received significant criticism for his play on the court during the Nets’ first-round playoff loss to the Celtics. Heck, he has even caught flak for his off-court actions following his vaccination saga this year.

But Jay Williams, the 2001-02 AP Player of the Year at Duke, wasn’t happy with how the seven-time All-Star acted directly after getting eliminated by his former team.

“On the court, I saw a guy who was passive,” he said on the April 26 episode of Keyshawn, JWill, and Max. “I didn’t see a guy who was aggressive. I didn’t see a guy that was playing like his back was against the wall, and they were in a closeout game scenario. After the game was over … I’m watching Kyrie on the floor, and he’s hugging, and he’s smiling with his former teammates after they’ve gotten swept – swept.”

He continued: “They were the first preseason title favorite team to get swept in over 35 years. How do you have a smile on your face?”

Cameras caught Irving hugging various players like Marcus Smart and Al Horford, and smiling with Jaylen Brown. Sure, he used to play with those guys, but it’s tough to see a competitor act as if he doesn’t care about losing. He and the Nets should be embarrassed by their performance and hungry to prove haters wrong next season. They shouldn’t be worried about congratulating the other team.

No matter how he acted after the game, though, Brooklyn simply needed a better performance from Irving during it.

Kyrie Irving choked when the lights were at their brightest

Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving before an NBA playoff game in 2022.
Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets looks on before a 2022 NBA Eastern Conference Playoff game against the Boston Celtics on April 17, 2022. | Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

As Jay Williams mentioned above, Irving was passive throughout the Celtics series. He averaged 27.4 points on 21.2 shot attempts in the regular season for Brooklyn. He also had 39 points on 12-of-20 shooting in Game 1.

However, in Games 2–4, Kyrie averaged just 15.3 points on 37.2% shooting. He had 17 shot attempts in Game 3 but only put up 13 in both Games 2 and 4.

The NBA champion with the Cleveland Cavaliers didn’t play like someone trying to lead his team to a playoff win, and he lacked the intensity we have seen him compete with throughout various points of his career.

His play was a letdown, to say the least.

Irving made plenty of questionable decisions throughout the 2021-22 campaign. If he had played the entire year, perhaps the Nets would still be in the playoffs. But his performance against the Celtics was easily his biggest disappointment of all.

Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference

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