You don’t have to be an astronomer to realize that the stars have aligned for the Boston Celtics. The future is clearly bright for this newly budding team. Anybody can see that. But Kyrie Irving is the only soothsayer who can tell fans just how long this success will last.
The game was tied, irising down to the final seconds, 88-88: The Celtics absolutely needed a bucket. During a mutually necessary timeout, Brad Stevens drew up a play to employ his best scorer.
After the inbounds pass, Kyrie Irving secured the ball and dribbled towards the hole with cantankerous resolve. Although he missed the violently contested layup, he hit the free throws to put the Celtics ahead by two points, with less than a minute left in the contest. The Warriors would not be able manufacture a response for this fatal blow.
Sure, there were great expectations for Boston, entering the 2017-18 season. Somehow the Celtics have managed to transcend those already ambitious margins. They currently have the best record in the NBA, at 14-2.
But is this an ephemeral and altogether futile attempt at stealing an NBA Title, or is Boston witnessing the crystallization of a long-winded dynasty? The only man who can answer that question is Kyrie Irving. And his answer would beget another question: Will he stay, or will he go?
In 2020, Kyrie will become an unrestricted free agent (assuming that he doesn’t exercise the player option to renegotiate in 2019). The Celtics and fans alike would sure love to keep him in a green uniform.
At this juncture, the timeline for the potential re-signing of Kyrie is becoming more and more opportunistic. All harbingers suggest that Irving will decide to stay in Boston.
Let’s explore a few of those heartening signs.
A Chip Off the Old Block
It has been alluded to, but this valuable piece of history has yet to fully resonate with the Celtics fan base. Kyrie Irving’s father, Drederick Rubin Irving, is the greatest Boston University men’s basketball player ever…
Yes, seriously. Kyrie’s dad is mathematically the best BU scorer of all-time. The senior of the two Irving’s attended the school from 1984-1988. He still holds the BU basketball record for career points, with 1,931 total and an average of 15.8 PPG. But Irving's paternal connection to the city of Boston does not stop there.
Drederick Irving had a free agent tryout with the 1989 Boston Celtics. And even better for modern Celtics fans - he didn’t make the team! Come on, we all know that every son has the irrepressible urge to overshadow their father. Imagine how gratifying it must be for Kyrie Irving to be the superstar on the NBA team that denied his own pops a roster spot!
Immediately following the press conference that introduced him to Boston, Kyrie gave his inaugural Celtics jersey to his dignified father who was standing by his side the entire time. Surely this was a surreal and special moment for the Irving family.
So don’t disappoint your family, Kyrie. You wouldn’t want do that - would you?
Star of the Show
Those who have studied a transcript of one of his interviews understand how sagacious a man Kyrie Irving is. He is a thinker through and through - almost to his detriment. The pleasure that Kyrie derives from indoctrinating the ignorant shows very conspicuously, whenever he speaks.
Sometimes Irving’s speculations border on the outlandish (like when he recently made the asseveration that steak does not come from a “natural” source). Nonetheless, Kyrie is confident in the knowledge that he circulates. And he definitely has some empirical basketball wisdom to impart on the youth of this Celtics team.
After begrudgingly learning under the tutelage of LeBron, for years, Irving has explicitly expressed a desire to be the featured player on a team. What better way to make him feel featured than by giving him a gaggle of peripheral prospects to take under his wing?
Jayson Tatum, a 19 year old rookie, raved about Kyrie Irving’s fatherly presence, before Tuesday night’s game. “Kyrie calms me down when I’m anxious.” Tatum said. He elaborated by adding that Kyrie makes him know that he’s not alone, when he’s out there on the court.
Kyrie’s guidance is galvanising the Boston Celtics. They have a plethora of rookies who are susceptible to his brand of leadership. And these supple minds are going to be in Boston for many years to come. If he stays with the C’s, there is no doubt that Kyrie will continue to be the captain of this squad - which is exactly what he was looking for when he left Cleveland.
Time is Money
In order to cement his independence, Kyrie Irving needs to win an NBA Title - without the assistance of LeBron James. The tide is auspiciously turning in the Eastern Conference. Even without Gordon Hayward, it appears that the Celtics are the next contender in line to challenge the Golden State Warriors.
The contracts and ages of critical Golden State players, such as Steph Curry and Kevin Durant, will be superlatively in Boston’s favor, when it comes time for Kyrie to make his contractual decision in 2020. If Kyrie chooses to stay with the Celtics, he will be the star of an NBA dynasty that is ready to supplant that of the Warriors.
The hegemony that Golden State has established in the NBA is not eternal (though it feels like it at times). Believe it or not, Steph Curry and Kevin Durant are subjected to the same aging process that every other human is subjected to. Both of these perennial all-stars will be 32 years old, by the time that Irving hypothetically re-signs with the Celtics.
Another promising element of the Golden State timeline, for Irving and the Celtics, is it’s ineluctable expiration and the supposed schedule thereof.
From 2019-2020, the Warriors will have to deal with a barrage of unrestricted free agents. Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green will all be looking for new deals, in this small window.
Bear in mind, this information does come with a disclaimer: The CBA and the Salary Cap of the NBA is extremely volatile. Who knows, 3-4 years from now, players could be reasonably asking for billions, and the maximum stipulation may be entirely dissolved.
Let’s presume that a bank-breaking cataclysm hasn’t occurred. Kyrie Irving, in 2020, will be a 28 year old guard, surrounded by a group of other 20-somethings who are primed to compete for the epitome of basketball glory. He will also have become the undisputed sensei of this group.
This is the favorable situation that he is presented with in Boston.
Considering that he has a well stimulated vendetta against the Warriors, Kyrie Irving’s best option would be to stick with the franchise that is positioned to dethrone them - the Boston Celtics.
Danny Ainge and his subordinates made a very calculated decision, when they acquired Kyrie Irving. The most venerated franchise in sports history is now on the threshold of yet another dynasty and they need to capture this moment.
Kyrie Irving is well aware of the resplendent banners that hang up in the rafters, every time he sets foot in the Garden. And circumstances imply that, for years to come, Kyrie will be working to leave his mark on those very same rafters, as a member of the Celtics.
Photo: (Sports Illustrated)