By: Kenny Doyle
When Kyrie was traded to the Celtics, it officially became the craziest offseason in NBA history. The general consensus from the around the NBA was that Cleveland won the deal. Getting a point guard in Isaiah who could match Kyrie’s scoring, a 2018 draft pick that is sure to be in the top half of the lottery, the Celtics starting small forward from last season when they won 53 games, and to top in all off a center from Croatia that Celtics fans spent a year hyping up as the next big thing.
No matter who truly won the deal, it’s hard to argue that Cleveland didn’t make out well. The Cavaliers got A HALL compared to what other superstars went for this offseason. The Brooklyn pick has the chance to net Cleveland the NBA’s next franchise player, Jae Crowder is the perfect Shane Battier type of player that LeBron will love to play with in small ball lineups (so long as Crowder will guard the power forward’s on the defensive end), but the piece with the most sentimental value to Celtics fans is Isaiah Thomas.
When Isaiah Thomas was traded for Kyrie Irving, there was a lot of mixed reaction in Boston. Isaiah put up a season that will not quickly be forgotten by any Celtics fan. Two 50 point games, 3rd in the league in scoring, 5th in MVP voting, and the #1 seed in the east all by a point guard who is the same height as Patriots running back Dion Lewis. For a lot of Boston fans, it was tough to let Isaiah go, but this week may have mind tricked all those C’s fans on the fence into wanting Isaiah to go to Cleveland.
In the direct aftermath, a lot of fans were upset and understandably so. Isaiah embraced the city of Boston to the highest degree possible. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that he may have taught a lot of Celtics fans what it truly meant to be a Celtic, I can vouch for that. He gave everything to the Celtics, playing through tragedy, injury, and recruiting All-Stars relentlessly and how did the Celtics thank him? By shipping him off to their biggest rival. By all reports, Isaiah was devastated. That’s where things got tricky. Once you have traded a player as amazing and emotional as Isaiah, there’s no turning back.
When reports started coming out that the trade might be voided, everyone started panicking. Isaiah told the media that he would not play for the Celtics if the deal fell through. For a week, Celtics fans were begging for the Kyrie trade to be completed. It was that or lose Isaiah for almost nothing. So for a full week, even the most loyal Isaiah fans were hoping that Isaiah would end up a Cavalier on the same team as LeBron James. If the deal was voided, the Celtics could have easily fallen apart.
On top of that, this past week has been filled with articles questioning Kyrie’s ability to be a franchise cornerstone. If there’s one thing Celtics fans do better than any other fanbase, it’s standing up for their players. When a loyal Celtics fan sees an article like this, they go after it.
They can’t help it. It’s in their blood. A Celtics fan will defend their team until their dying day. So when a writer might say Kyrie is not as good as he’s perceived to be and the Celtics and Danny Ainge were wrong to give up as much as they did, C’s fans go into attack mode.
Kyrie Irving should be grateful that this week has played out the way it has. It’s gotten a lot more Celtics fans behind him, some genuinely, others unintentionally. Whether Irving can live up to the package the Celtics traded for him remains to be seen. Kyrie had a concerning comment at his presser Friday morning. “Is there ever such thing as one person carrying the whole team? I don’t think so. When you have a collection of individuals that all have one mission and one goal and collectively getting better every single day, there are a lot of moving parts.”
That brings into question Irving’s desire to be the leader of the team. Irving will be expected to carry the team on a lot of nights this season. There will be games where the team is tired or injured and they’ll look to Irving to pick them up. Is this comment him saying that he doesn’t want or isn’t ready to do that? Celtics fans better hope not. At the end of the day, Irving will not be judged by what he says at the podium, but rather what he does on the court. If he has comments like that which are all about the team and being in it together while dropping 40 and leading the Celtics to a gritty win, then there will be no gripes from anyone. But if he is not ready to be accountable if he no shows in a bad Celtics loss, Boston fans won’t take to kindly to that.
Photo: (ESPN YouTube)