Saturday, December 19, 2020

Kyrie Irving says he's 'nothing but proud' of Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum

If you've been keeping track, there's Celtics fans that are not quite fond of Kyrie Irving these days, but his former Boston teammates apparently still have love for him.

Irving, who spent two seasons in green, was seen embracing the likes of Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Robert Williams and others before Friday's preseason bout between the Celtics the Nets. Even after the game, Irving and Williams exchanged jerseys and he grabbed one from Tatum as well.

With the TD Garden being empty due to Covid-19 protocols, Irving's return to an arena he called home for two years for the first time since signing with Brooklyn in the summer of 2019, was definitely more quiet than anyone could have expected. Still, of course the All-Star guard was asked about playing in Boston after nearly 18 months, despite being an opponent.
"It's like another day at the job," Irving said. "Honestly. I'm grateful to be able to have relationships with a lot of these guys who are still here, guys who aren't here still. And, at the end of the day, we went to war together. And I respect all those young men down there. We're not even young. We're just young kings growing in a business where we want to do what makes us happy. To see Jayson get better, to see Jaylen get better, to see these guys mature and be in the positions they're in, I’m nothing but proud of them. To see other guys be happy, that's all I could want.

"Coming here is easy, man. Performing here is easy. Performing here is easy. Basketball is the easy part. It's just the external stuff beforehand that gets noisy, so I try to limit that."
Irving and superstar running mate Kevin Durant combined for 42 points on 16-of-31 shooting, as the Nets steamed rolled the Celtics 113-89 in the final preseason tune up. While both teams have only played two games in a shorten training camp, Brooklyn appears ready to begin the regular season as opposed to Boston, who are working through injuries and new acquisitions.
"Offensively, I just felt like the talent that we have speaks for itself," said Irving of his current team. "But we have got to do the little things, getting off the ball, making extra passes. You'll see a change over the course of this season as we mature and get more reps. I feel things will be a lot more crisp. We had a lot of turnovers tonight, but we had 24 assists. Obviously it's still a preseason game but even in practice, we still want to do the right things. I wish we had some more tune-up games, but obviously, right through it."
The Nets will be back in Boston on Christmas Day to face the Celtics once again, as tip-off is at 5 p.m. EST.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of The Associated Press

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