David Butler II/USA Today Sports

Kyrie Irving spent his summer playing secret pickup games in Seattle

Alex Reimer
September 28, 2018 - 12:48 pm

All summer long, Celtics fans were treated to highlight videos involving most of their favorite players populating their Twitter feeds. There was Jayson Tatum destroying his competition at a Pro-Am tournament and Jaylen Brown dunking on amateurs in Atlanta. Oh, and who could forget the constant updates from Gordon Hayward?

But Kyrie Irving, who seemingly never shies away from showmanship, was curiously absent. That’s because he spent the bulk of August training secretly in Seattle, playing pickup games at gyms and private health clubs. 

The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach details Irving’s rehab from two knee surgeries, which sidelined him for the entirety of the postseason. When Irving was finally ready to play some games, the All-Star guard phoned NBA veteran Jamal Crawford, who organizes high-level affairs between multiple NBA players. In addition to Irving, Bulls guard Zach LaVine, Rockets forward Marquese Chriss and Spurs guard Dejounte Murray played with Crawford this summer. It was their own basketball secret society of sorts –– players weren’t permitted to publicize the workouts on social media. 

“I was honored when Ky called, for him to place that trust in me,” Crawford told the Globe. “I wanted to really handle it delicately as far as finding an undisclosed location and keeping it that way, off the grid.

“We were everywhere. And yet nobody in Seattle knew we were doing this besides the people involved.”

That is, except for Bill Russell, who lives off the coast of Washington state. Crawford invited Russell to some of the private sessions, and he attended at least two games, the Globe reports. Each day, the two teams played one game split into five periods, with the winning team reaching 125 points.

According to Crawford, it didn’t take Irving long to get his game back. 

“You saw him turn into the Kyrie that everyone knows and loves,” Crawford said. “He’d do moves — and we wouldn’t talk about it until after the game was over, because it was that competitive — but he’d do moves and I’d look at him like, ‘That was the 2K Kyrie right there. That was top-10 “SportsCenter” Kyrie right there. If there had been a camera there and some of that footage ever got out, it would be, like, whoa. It’d be some of the best plays you’ve ever seen.”