Kyrie Irving appears to be seeking a new beginning. Maybe a new image. Whatever he’s trying to accomplish, he was pretty vague in his description. Instead of speaking to the media, Irving issued a statement regarding the impact the coronavirus (COVID-19) has had on everyone, writing life “hit differently” this year. He said that will require him to be different. The word is we may not be hearing much of Irving this year.
Kyrie Irving has a lot to prove
Kyrie Irving has proven he can’t be the No. 1 guy on an NBA team. In Cleveland, He had LeBron James. His time with the Boston Celtics was a disaster when he was brought in to be the leader. He’ll be going back to the No. 2 role this year when he teams up with Kevin Durant as Durant makes his debut with the Brooklyn Nets this season.
Irving has also proven he can’t stay healthy. Never has Irving played more than 75 games in a season. A shoulder injury limited Irving to 20 games during last season’s COVID-19-shortened year. In his final year in Boston, Irving missed 15 regular-season games and was a complete no-show during the playoffs. During the 2017-18 season, his first in Boston, Irving missed 22-regular-season games and the playoffs.
Irving’s reputation has taken a hit in his last few years in the NBA. Most Boston Celtics fans weren’t sorry to see Irving leave via free agency. He wasn’t able to put the team on his back like most leaders do. Irving moved on and saw his first year in Brooklyn end with shoulder surgery.
When healthy, Irving has shown he’s a star
Outside of games played, Kyrie Irving has some impressive stats. Irving, the first player chosen in the 2011 NBA draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, has averaged 22.4 points per game in his nine seasons. After his rookie year in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, Irving was an NBA All-Star for three straight seasons.
After playing in just 53 games during the 2015-16 season, Irving began another run of three straight NBA All-Star seasons. His best year statistically came during the 2016-17 season when he averaged 25-2 points and 5.8 assists per game. After that season, Irving was traded to the Boston Celtics.
During his two seasons with the Celtics, Irving put up big numbers, but he missed valuable time because of injuries. In March of 2018, he played his last game of the season after undergoing a procedure on his left knee. He missed the postseason as the Celtics fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. With Irving back in the postseason the following year, Boston couldn’t get out of the second round.
Kyrie Irving’s bizarre statement
Kyrie Irving has always been a strange guy. He continued that trend when he issued a statement through a spokesperson instead of speaking to the media as the NBA began its preparation for the 2020-21 season. “Instead of speaking to the media today, I am issuing this statement to ensure that my message is properly conveyed,” the statement read. “I am committed to show up to work every day, ready to have fun, compete, perform, and win championships alongside my teammates and colleagues in the Nets organization.
“COVID-19 has impacted us all in many ways, so I pray for the safety and health of our communities domestically and abroad. I am truly excited for the season to start and I am also praying that everyone remains safe and healthy throughout this journey,” Irving said in the rest of the statement. “… My goal this season is to let my work on and off the court speak for itself. Life hit differently this year and it requires us, it requires me, to move differently. So, this is the beginning of that change.”
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, during a segment of The Jump, said Irving announced a media blackout for the season. Irving has a long way to go if he wants to fix his reputation. Cutting off the media probably isn’t the best way to get started.