‘Bulls---’ claim about NBA star slammed
THE strongest defence of NBA star Kyrie Irving came after he likely left for good.
Irving did not speak to reporters after his exit meeting with the Celtics on Friday (AEST), but several teammates came to his defence after the calls blaming him for Boston's play-offs demise steadily rose throughout the team's 4-1 series dismantling at the hands of Milwaukee.
Celtics forward Marcus Smart was asked if Irving's leadership was to blame for the disappointing regular season and early play-off exit.
"That's bulls---," Smart said, according to a video posted by the Boston Globe's Nicole Yang.
"Not one of us in this room know what Kyrie goes through. Probably only a few people in the world know what Kyrie goes through.
"It was hard for him as well. He was forced into a situation where it was business over friendship."
Irving was traded to the Celtics two off-seasons ago after pushing for a release from the Cleveland Cavaliers and his role as LeBron James' wing man. He joined a team that had reached the Eastern Conference finals and would go back again without Irving in his injury-plagued first season with the team.
Irving stayed relatively healthy this season, but the team's immense talent never came together and Irving made curious statements that exacerbated problems or created new ones.
But Smart's defence and the timing of it - since he will likely no longer be teammates with Irving anymore - perhaps shed some light on those putting all the blame on the 27-year-old point guard.
"He had to come into a situation where (there was) a group of guys that had something going before he came here. 'How will I fit in?' He didn't want to disrupt it," Smart said.
"That says a lot. This is Kyrie Irving we are talking about, and he's coming in talking about disrupting us.
"We took him on with full arms and tried to understand it, but we never really understood because we are not in his shoes.
"That's just a bulls--- statement to say his leadership killed us (against the Bucks). There's four other guys out there. There's 12, 13 other guys on the team, coaches and everything, so to blame it on one guy is bull----."
Irving is expected to opt out of the final year of his contract, and it seems unlikely he will re-sign with the Celtics.
The New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets will be among his suitors.
The Knicks would try to pair him with Golden State star Kevin Durant if he were to leave the Warriors and move to the Big Apple.
"There's no time to be disappointed," Irving said after 116-91 game-five loss to Milwaukee, which ended Boston's season.
"You move on. … it's moving on to the next thing and seeing where that ends up."
This article first appeared on the New York Post and was reproduced with permission