Bradford: How will we view Kyrie Irving on May 30?

Rob Bradford
April 17, 2019 - 11:52 am

The postseason is a powerful thing.

It can make even the smartest people irrational. It can make the most irrational people seem smart. And can absolutely alter a lifetime of perception in a mere matter of weeks, days or even minutes. 

Welcome to this world Kyrie Irving.

Words are easy this time of year, especially when it comes to wearing them on t-shirts for postgame press conferences. It's a new season. This is when it really matters. All of that nonsense we kind of were insinuating made a difference for the past six months really was all a mirage. But when the rubber meets the road under these appreciably brighter lights than actions are what this bizarre power of the postseason feeds off of.

It's not difficult to identify examples.

A Cowboys cornerback by the name of Larry Brown caught two Neil O'Donnell interceptions in the Super Bowl and gets an undeserved big contract from the Raiders. The Red Sox use Pablo Sandoval's World Series performance with the Giants as part of their justification to pay him to play on the big stage in Boston. Or how about the pitcher who the Sox are sending out to face the Yankees on the same night the Celtics' take on Indiana in Game 2, Nathan Eovaldi?

With no October last year, Eovaldi was a pitcher who would be hitting free agency at 44-53 with a career 4.16 ERA, carrying one season with more than six wins. But there was an October and the righty offered a big old dose of what was and what might be. Just 22 1/3 innings help vault him into a four-year, $68 million contract. Perhaps the postseason was, as the Red Sox are predicting, a prelude to the next stage of the fireballer's career. But we do know that the playoffs certainly opened the door to that conversation a whole lot wider than it ever had been.

Remember Kelly Olynyk's 26-point Game 7 showing against Washington? That sure did nothing but pave the way to the forward's four-year, $50 million deal with the Heat the following offseason.

When it comes to Irving the argument isn't so much based on how much more money he might make with a solid run at the NBA Finals, but more about who both the player and the team wants to embrace when this whole postseason thing is said and done.

So many, including Irving, want to put the roller coaster that was the 2018-19 regular season in the rearview. The pregame comments in New York backtracking on his lock-solid pledge to re-sign with the Celtics. The debates as to if the C's were actually a better team with or without Kyrie. The grumbling about media attention while strolling into TD Garden. The somewhat passive-aggressive mentions when talking about the makeup of the roster.

The postseason is here. That means Irving has his eraser.

That first half of Game 1 only added to the murmuring. The Celtics were losing, and Kyrie was doing nothing to change the uneasiness. Then came the final two quarters. The Celtics were good and Irving was helping lead the charge, both with his immense talent (20 points) and all-around hustle. By game's end smiles and high-fives suggested we might be going down a different road with the Celtics' superstar, one which could take us right back to where we started before this season began.

It was just one game, but it proved the power of the postseason. May 30 (the first day of the NBA Finals) is still a long way away.