Kyrie Irving is proving once again that he can’t be a No. 1 in the NBA

NBA Brooklyn Nets Kyrie Irving (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
NBA Brooklyn Nets Kyrie Irving (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

Kyrie Irving being Kyrie Irving is not going to take the Brooklyn Nets to the promised land, and that’s very much evident thus far this season

You wouldn’t think the LeBron James, Michael Jordan debate would effect Kyrie Irving, but it did. Although people tend to forget about LeBron James’ clutch block in the 2016 NBA Finals on Andre Iguodala, everyone remembers Kyrie’s clutch shot that cemented Clevland’s first professional championship in 52 years.

A lot of the extreme Jordan fans, who are known for taking credit away from other great players who have come after MJ, say that Kyrie should have won Finals MVP. Some of the biggest LeBron haters even suggest that Kyrie carried Kevin Love and LeBron James to the NBA Finals, which is absolutely ridiculous.

Kyrie, who had a memorable series in that NBA Finals, averaged 27.1 points, 3.9 assists, 2.1 steals, and 3.9 rebounds per game, while LeBron James, the player Kyrie carried, averaged 29.7 points, 8.9 assists, 2.6 steals, and11.3 rebounds per game.

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After losing in the 2017 NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors, in the offseason, Kyrie went to management and demanded a trade. It was reminiscent of Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant who felt he could lead a team to a championship as the leader.

During Bryant’s free agency, he was looking for houses in Chicago. He was tired of all the doubters who said he was only good because of Shaq and that he wouldn’t win a ring without him. Once Shaq was traded to Miami, Kobe got his wish and he re-signed with the Lakers. The team was rebuilt around him, and he was the leader of the team.

When Kyrie was traded to the Boston Celtics, he was there to be the leader and the missing piece that could get them over the hump. The Celtics at the time were an up and coming team that always looked like they were a piece away from getting to the Finals.

When the 2017-18 season started Kyrie got his numbers, averaging 24.4 points, 5.1 assists, 1.1 steals and 3.8 rebounds per game. Unfortunately for him, his season was cut short due to a procedure he had to have to remove a tension wire in his left knee.

During the playoffs, the Celtics young core of Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Terry Rozier showed potential to be future stars in the NBA. In an ironic twist, they lost in the Eastern Conference Finals to the LeBron James led Cleveland Cavaliers in seven games.

The success of the young players in that playoff run led many people to believe with a healthy Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, who was injured on opening night of the season, they would get to the Finals the next season.

The 2018-19 season did not work out the way many fans and NBA analysts expected it to. With two established all-stars added to the core, the Celtics struggled all season with chemistry issues. The average basketball fan that plays 2k doesn’t understand chemistry, they look at talent and think better talent will always win. In sports that is not always true.

In the late 90s, the Lakers had Cedric Ceballos, Eddie Jones, Nick Van Exel, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, and Elden Campbell. In that group, there are five players who made at least one all-star team and all of them averaged at least 14 points per game at one point in their careers. The chemistry didn’t work, due to all the egos and players who wanted the ball.

The Celtics team in 2018-19 was the same way. Over Kyrie’s time in Boston, the Celtics were 79-48 with him and 24-12 without him, four percentage points better when he didn’t play. Kyrie didn’t help the team when he came out to the media and compared the Celtics struggles with his struggles in Cleveland when LeBron James came back.

"[via ESPN]“I had to call Bron and tell him like I apologize for being that young player that wanted everything at his fingertips, I wanted everything to be at my threshold, I wanted to be the guy that led us to championships, I wanted to be the leader,” Irving would say."

When LeBron arrived back in Cleveland in the offseason of 2014, he came to a team that went 97-215 while he went to the Finals four straight years with Miami, winning the championship twice. Kyrie was a talented, but a cocky player who once told Kobe he could beat him in a 1-on-1 game.

He won rookie of the year in his first year in Cleveland, but the Cavs never got close to the playoffs his first three seasons there. In Brian Windhorst and Dave McMenamin’s book “Return of the King,” that documents LeBron’s return back to the Cavs and leading them to a championship, the early relationship between Kyrie and LeBron is brought up.

In the book, the story is told about an early season loss to the Jazz where Irving had zero assists in the second half. LeBron confronted Kyrie at the end of the game.

"[via Complex]“He came up to me and was like, ‘One, you can never have another game with no assists. You can damn near have just one, two, three, but you can’t have zero,” Kyrie said."

Fast forward to the Celtics, Kyrie sees the young players as himself. The reason this isn’t true is due to the fact the Celtics players he viewed as immature were one game away from going to the NBA Finals, while 33 games were the most games Cleveland won when Kyrie was the lone all-star. Last season with a healthy Kyrie for the playoffs the Celtics lost in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in five games to the Milwaukee Bucks.

In the offseason, Irving decided to sign with the Brooklyn Nets, a team that played hard in the 2018-19 season, making the playoffs with one all star in D’Angelo Russell. Irving didn’t come to the Nets alone, instead, he brought two times Finals MVP Kevin Durant with him. Durant was hurt in the NBA Finals and will miss the whole season, putting Kyrie in a similar position he was in when he played for Boston.

For most of the season, Kyrie has been hurt, playing 14 of the 40 games. After missing 26 games Irving came back and played well, scoring 21 points, shooting a remarkable 10-11 from the field and leading them to a win against the Atlanta Hawks. The next two games the Nets lost to the Jazz and Philadelphia respectively. It was the second loss in a row where Kyrie threw some of his teammates under the bus.

"[via ESPN]“I feel like we have great pieces, but it’s pretty glaring we need one more piece or two more pieces that will compliment myself Kevin Durant, DeAndre Jordan, Garrett Temple, Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LaVert, and we’ll see how that evolves,” Irving said."

It was a weird statement due to the fact Kevin Durant is out and they won’t be judged until both superstars are healthy. it was also weird he named some teammates, but not all. Kyrie signing with Brooklyn was weird due to the fact his reason for leaving Cleveland was to get out of LeBron’s shadow and be the leader of his own team.

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Next season when Kevin Durant comes back for the second time in his career he will be the second-best player on a championship contender. Kobe Bryant was able to win two championships as the go to guy with the Lakers, but Kyrie has yet to prove he can lead a team anywhere as the go-to guy.

It also seems when he has the pressure to be the go-to guy he throws his teammates under the bus to the media. Everyone thought he learned from the mistakes he made in Boston, but it’s just Kyrie being Kyrie.