Kyrie 2

A Microcosm of the Kyrie Irving Experience

Game one of the first round playoff series between the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets was filled with plenty of attention-grabbing names, impressive plays, and several great storylines, my favorite being: a battle between the two ways to build a contender. The Celtics, representing building through the draft and developing your star talent; and the Nets, representing the “super team” era that basketball has been largely about since the Big 3 in Miami all those years ago.

Is Ben Simmons coming back? Are the Nets best seventh seed of all time? Have we ever seen a seventh seed with legitimate championship potential? Kyrie Irving’s return to Boston, and can the Tatum/Brown duo actually lead to playoff success? There were so many things to talk about before this game…but only one thing to talk about afterwards.

Kyrie Irving and his antics.

Most of the time, Kyrie’s antics are off the court, sometimes it’s him calling the world flat, maybe he’s upset LeBron James called him his little brother, or perhaps he is even combating local and national media because he isn’t part of the “puppet” show, and he isn’t a pawn in the media’s schemes. This time, however, he managed to bring his antics onto the court…while also playing an outstanding game and shining in crunch time. This was the epitome of the Kyrie Irving experience. Instead of his play and antics being separated, they were combined into one amazing spectacle that sums up who he has been for the last several years. Kyrie was battling the Celtics players on the court and the fans off the court, engaging in going back and forth with them, flashing them the finger a few times and talking trash throughout the game.

What’s amazing is that while he was flipping fans the bird, he was also balling out. Kyrie finished the game with 39 points on 13-20 shooting, 6-10 from 3pt, with 4 steals and 6 assists. Not to mention he hit several clutch shots in the fourth quarter (he lead the league in fourth quarter PPG this season) including one that was reminiscent of his all-time shot in the finals in 2016 over Steph Curry. Yet, all people were talking about was him giving fans the middle finger before inbounding the ball.

Classic Kyrie. Unreal on the court, an all-time shot maker, dribbler, and below-the-rim finisher. A package in one player that we have never seen before, one we may never see again. But it’s overshadowed by something that has absolutely nothing to do with basketball.

It’s the duality of Kyrie Irving that makes him so fascinating. On one hand, we have a cold blooded killer who could make a shot from anywhere on the court at any angle with anyone guarding him. On the other, we have a guy who alienated LeBron James and wanted to blaze his own path. We have a guy who averages 23 PPG and 6 assists for his career with a track record for success in the playoffs…this same guy has missed 25% of his career games, including two playoff runs.

A guy who didn’t want to play in LeBron’s shadow, but when he went to the Celtics to be the leading act he faltered, was passive aggressive, deflected blame, and alienated the city and its fans. Then teamed up with Kevin Durant, running the risk of playing in another great players shadow.

We have Kyrie Irving, the basketball player, who is so supremely gifted that all we should talk about is how fun he is to watch, how he scored damn near 40 in a playoff game, and how good this series will be going forward. Conversely, we also have Kyrie Irving the man, who said the earth was flat and the media are pawns. Based on his interviews and quotes, a man who believes he operates on a superior intellectual plane than most of us, and a guy who decided to combat the fans of a team he alienated and tried to justify it in the post-game press conference.

What we have is an out-of-this-world basketball talent, but he will be remembered more for what he said and did off the court.

It is fun to follow though.

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