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Kyrie Irving tells potential future Celtics 'do your homework' - NBC Sports

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2024 NBA Finals Practice and Media Availability

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 16: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Dallas Mavericks looks on during 2024 NBA Finals Practice and Media Availability on June 16, 2024 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2024 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

BOSTON — Playing for the Boston Celtics is unlike playing for any other franchise in the NBA — the arenas are always full and loud, history follows you everywhere, there are Celtics fans in every city and the fan base is rabid. The Celtics are tied to its city and their fan base like no other. Putting on Celtics green comes with opportunities but also pressure.

Kyrie Irving — respectfully — thinks players coming to Boston should be ready for all that.

“You just expect to have a magnifying glass on you everywhere you go... So the community is integrated into the Celtics team, that’s probably the best way I could say it,” Irving said in Boston the day before Game 5 of the NBA Finals. “The community is what makes the Celtics great here, the Boston pandemonium. That’s what makes the space so loud and so special, and they take pride in it.

“If any player is coming here, getting drafted here, thinking about coming here in free agency, you’re getting traded, I just think, do your homework and make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.”

Throughout the Finals, a more mature, elder statesman Irving has been out in front of the media — the guy who has been there before, the guy used to NBA Finals pressure. With that, he’s been open about his two seasons in Boston — including the fact it was not on his list of preferred destinations before he was traded there.

"They expect you to seamlessly buy into the Celtics' pride, buy into everything Celtics, and if you don't, then you'll be outed. I'm one of the people that's on the outs"Kyrie Irving opens up about his time in Boston, and drops some interesting nuggets 🤔 pic.twitter.com/NzJwG3iJ4O

— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) June 16, 2024

“When I look back on it getting traded here, this wasn’t one of my options. You know, it wasn’t like number one on my list,” Irving said. “So when the trade opportunity got approached me, instead of going back and appreciating the Celtics history, I just came in with an open mind and just kind of like, ‘Alright, I’m just gonna go with the flow into this,’ but I think that was the wrong approach. You know, just being young.”

Making the transition to Boston much harder, just a couple weeks after telling a packed TD Garden he would love to re-sign with the franchise, he lost his grandfather. Irving talked about how he lost an anchor with that and how he struggled, withdrew and became depressed, speaking to Melissa Roslin of Fox Sports.

“That was one of the hardest points in my life just because I didn’t know how to move forward, not just with my career in Boston. But just my career in general... I had never lost somebody in the middle of the season before, or the start of the season. It’s my mom’s father, so it was tough on me emotionally. But it was more tough on me to find joy in the game of basketball again.”

Irving said that part of the reason he left Boston as a free agent to be closer to family in Brooklyn was that he had to move on from his struggles.

“I think that’s what I struggled with initially was figuring out how I’m going to be a great player here while winning championships while also leading a team and selflessly joining the Celtics organization or the cult that they have here,” Irving said. “You know, and that’s what they expect you to do as as a player, they expect you to seamlessly buy into the Celtics pride buy into everything Celtics, and if you don’t, then you’ll be outed and I’m one of the people that’s on the outs.”

Irvin will be reminded by Celtics fans that he’s on the outs during player introductions on Monday night before Game 5 of the NBA Finals, then again every time he touches the ball. The boos will rain down, especially if he struggles like he did the first two games in Boston (14 points a game average on 35.1% shooting).

Irving wants Celtics fans to know he still loves the city, but he sees his relationship with the team as more complex, and other players coming to the city should understand this before walking in the door.

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