Kyrie Irving is doing his best to steal headlines from Super Bowl week amid a wild week across the NBA. On the heels of multiple reports suggesting that there is speculation that Irving is not as committed to Boston over the long-term as he suggested back in October, Irving did little to quiet those rumors at Friday's shootaround at Madison Square Garden ahead of the Knicks game on Friday night.
When asked about his offseason plans, Irving said little to make the Celtics feel secure about their positioning.
“Well, at the end of the day I’m going to do what I feel is best for my career, and that’s just where it stands," he told reporters. "My focus this season is winning a championship with the Boston Celtics. Obviously, we had goals coming into this season, and the primary goal is to win a championship. So that’s where my focus is.”
When asked specifically about his mindset when it comes to re-signing with Boston he replied, “Ask me July 1st.”
Irving did still put the Celtics in the front of the pack when it comes to his potential destination when pressed about the situation more.
“I still have confidence in Boston and what they can promise for the future and what we have in terms of our pieces," Irving told reporters. "That’s what excited me a lot about the beginning of the season was the opportunity to come into this season really just doing what we planned on doing, set a goal and go after it and then see what happens at the end of the season. That was the plan before and that’s still the plan now. Obviously, Boston is still at the head of that race. That’s just where it stands.”
Back in October, Irving was very clear that he intended to re-sign with Boston after speaking to season ticket holders at a preseason event at the TD Garden.
“I’ve shared it with some of my teammates as well as the organization as well as everyone else in Boston. If you guys will have me back, I plan on re-signing here next year,” Irving said to a standing ovation back on October 4th.
“We all know what a real sports city is. They call it Titletown for a reason. And I was just elated to be here. That was a big move and I’m glad I have a year in now in Boston and I’m ready to continue here.
“You think, ‘what about a new location?’ and it’s just like I want to be comfortable and what’s better than being in Boston? This year has felt much different because of the environment that has been created for me and by me and going to the new practice facility. There’s nothing like playing at TD Garden. I didn’t say that to appease you guys. I actually love Boston.”
Irving also proceeded to make this Nike commercial with his father on the Garden floor a few months ago, in which he referenced having his No. 11 in the rafters.
Here's the rest of Irving's unfiltered comments to reporters in New York today:
His thoughts on the Kristaps Porzingis trade: “I respect the Knicks organization. Obviously they’re making moves to position themselves for this upcoming summer. So I wish them the best.”
Will Knicks fans be chanting for you tonight? “I started playing this game without the fans, without the money. So I’m just excited to play a game that I love and do it with my teammates.”
It seems like there has been a shift with you from what you said at beginning of the season. Has something changed? Did something change? “What do you mean?”
Before the season you said you planned on staying in Boston. Now, it's, 'Wait until July 1st.' Did something happen? Did something change? “Nah, I’m just going to do what’s best for me. That’s what it really comes down to. Obviously this has become an entertainment thing for everybody. So somebody else is asking for a trade and I’m thrown into that, and uncertainty comes back on me. At the end of the day I don’t live in this little hub. Some people call me about this dumb shit, and of course my name (keeps getting) thrown in this. I’m not worried about a reputation, I’m not worried about a legacy to leave. I’m just trying to be a human being, trying to make the best decision for me and my family. So obviously things this season haven’t gone as I planned and that’s part of being on a team where you’re still trying to figure things out. So I’m always going to be mature about that, professional, come to do my job every single day and really just see what happens. And that’s what it really comes down to.”
What motivated you to make the proclamation in October to season ticket holders in Boston that you planned on re-signing. Obviously, you didn't have to do that: “I think it was just the excitement, feeling emotionally invested coming off an injury last season trying to prove something, trying to be very much of a team-oriented player, which I am naturally. But at the end of the day, I spent the last eight years trying to do what everybody else wanted me to do in terms of making my decisions and trying to validate through the media, through other personnel, managers, anybody in this business. And I don’t owe anybody shit.
"So for me, I think the confidence I have in myself and my abilities, I want to be able to control what I want to control. I still have confidence in Boston and what they can promise for the future and what we have in terms of our pieces. That’s what excited me a lot about the beginning of the season was the opportunity to come into this season really just doing what we planned on doing, set a goal and go after it and then see what happens at the end of the season. That was the plan before and that’s still the plan now. Obviously Boston is still at the head of that race. That’s just where it stands.”
Have you faced increased internal pressure...Danny Ainge says he talks to you every day -- about your decision to stay? “I mean this is like college recruitment all over again. So, I don’t know, like, I don’t know. This is just weird. This is a new position for me to be in, answering all these questions, seeing all this stuff that I’m trying to avoid, and it’s just a distraction. It’s crazy how stories and things and storylines can seep into a locker room. You guys are part of the destruction of locker rooms. That’s just what it is. This is an entertainment industry. I don’t live for this entertainment. I don’t live for this talking to everybody every single day about my life and my decisions. I would just hope that everybody would respect that. That’s really basically it. I’m a normal human being at the end of the day. I don’t want to answer all these questions about my future all the time. You know, it’s unfair to me, because I have a focus to really help these guys grow as individuals and really help this team be successful. When it starts getting out of hand and people start getting attacked personally, he-said, she-said, that’s so fifth-grade and elementary. This industry is just so F’d up. Like, it’s my decision at the end of the day. Who cares who says what’s best for him? It doesn’t matter. It’s unwarranted commentary and of course it’s still going to continue throughout the season. I’m aware of that. I’m a professional at the end of the day. I’m not going to disrespect anybody, but like I said, it really comes down to what’s best for me and my family, so.”
BSJ Analysis: While this isn't the most surprising news in the world given all the smoke surrounding Irving in the last 72 hours, it does put the Celtics back at square one to a degree with their All-Star superstar and amps up the pressure on the team over the rest of the season.