Kyrie Irving asked for it, and now he has it.
Who wouldn’t want to be a teammate of King LeBron James, the best basketball player on the planet, who almost guarantees his mates they will be in the NBA Finals every year?
Kyrie Irving didn’t, and he said so. Irving was part of the blockbuster trade over the summer to Boston, where he figured to be the star around which all the Celtics worked. It would be his team – for better or worse – and that’s how Irving wanted it.
Five minutes into the regular season opener at Cleveland against LeBron and his new teammates, Gordon Hayward, the Celtics’ other big star they had signed in free agency, went down with a gruesome ankle and leg injury. The shocked Celts lost the game and their home opener two nights later. It looked like Irving was now the star of a mediocre team.
Since that disastrous start, the Celtics have not lost again and have compiled the best record in the NBA. Irving has become the king of his new city. They won their tenth straight game over the Lakers on Wednesday night, when Irving was on the court with three other former Dukies who, combined, barely spent five seasons in Durham.
Irving himself played only half of his freshman season due to a foot injury before he went one-and-done. Celts rookie Jayson Tatum played last season for the Blue Devils before going third overall in the draft. Reserve teammate Semi Ojeleye rode the bench two years at Duke, then transferred to SMU and was good enough to go in the second round of the draft.
The Lakers, of course, have Brandon Ingram: the one-and-done from Kinston after the 2016 season at Duke.
Even with much-ballyhooed Lonzo Ball on the Lakers, Irving was the undisputed star of this game and of the winning team, which under former Butler coach Brad Stevens plays about 10 guys and is the most unselfish and best defensive club in the NBA.
Irving is back in the city where he lived as a kid, where his father Drederick Irving starred for Boston University before moving the family to New Jersey. His new home town, which has had the likes of Tom Brady and David Ortiz as its heroes in recent years, greeted him as a true superstar of the same ilk.
Some critics asked why he would leave LeBron and that ticket to the NBA Finals, but it seems that Irving knew what he was doing.