Thursday’s Mashup: Kyrie Irving opens up on Celtics’ ‘trying’ season, his call to LeBron James in ESPN interview

Lucy Burdge
February 20, 2019 - 8:37 pm

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NBA: Boston at Milwaukee, 8 p.m. (NBCSB, TNT)
NBA: Houston at LA Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
NHL: Los Angeles at Nashville, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)


-- Kyrie Irving opened up on the issues with the Celtics in an interview released on Wednesday with Rachel Nichols for The Jump.

In the interview, Irving talked about the Celtics players’ frustration, as well as his own, with not playing up to people’s expectations so far this season.

“It’s been a trying year for us,” Irving said. “Because we basically have a bunch of young men in our locker room that feel like they’re capable of doing a lot more than what they’re doing. And that’s OK. But there’s a maturity that you have to have, a professionalism you have to showcase every single day, and that’s what the great ones do.

“I initially didn’t play the minutes I wanted to play” he went on. “You know, I’m 26 years old heading into my prime, like, why do I have to wait for anybody? Terry Rozier, he played in the playoffs, he did extremely well. Coming back, that’s a natural competition that me and him have. Like, it is what it is. No one wants to say it, but I will.”

Irving said he will try to act as a leader to motivate his teammates to play better.

“You obviously have expectations to live up to individually, but as a team, you know, it’s a lot to figure out all in one year,” he said. “You know, bringing a lot more talent. You know, we didn’t just fill in pieces here and there; we filled in pieces with great players. So a lot has changed since the beginning of the season, but overall I just want to win. And I’m going to dedicate myself every single day, and if I gotta bring everybody else up with me, then that’s just what I have to do.”

He also said he sees himself as a leader.

“At the end of the day, I’ve always had the tools,” Irving said. “Now it’s just about going out there and just doing it and proving it and being myself. That’s the best version of me.”

And he gave himself credit for that call he made to LeBron James in which he apologized to him for his actions when the two were teammates.

“I think that, you know, it takes a very, very strong individual to replay a lot of the experiences that you’ve had,” Irving said. “You know, a lot of anger that you had built up where you didn’t address the situation and you allowed it to fester, and then it was just combustion. Like it just came out and then you realize, like, hey, man, I didn’t have to deal with that the same way I dealt with that. I didn’t have to go about it that same way. Now mind you, I have no regrets in terms of any decisions that I made going about my individual journey and what I want and what I want and foresee for my career. And yeah, apologizing, that was a step for me, just to move forward in my life.”

And, finally, he talked about his future in the wide-ranging interview, saying he ultimately wants to keep any trade talks from distracting the Celtics on the court.

“Well the talks don’t stop … I’ve worked my way to get here, and honestly, all that goes with the free agent talk is really a distraction,” Irving said. “A lot of people don’t realize on the outside that a lot of things that are said get into the locker rooms. Like a lot of things that are put in headlines get into locker rooms. Like, media has broken up locker rooms. Like, it’s been done before. Like, you say something that’s misinterpreted, and instead of addressing it with the person or individual, like human interaction, you read it on your phone, or you read it in text. Someone says, ‘Hey did you see what this person said about you?’ and it’s your teammate. And you’re like, wait, I didn’t hear that, and then you hold back, you don’t say anything to him, and then throughout the season it ends up coming out again. And it’s just like, man, that’s not the way life is supposed to go. It’s a unique position but I’m appreciative that I can have this understanding now. It’s fun, but at the same time, goodness, it’s energy-taxing.

-- It looks like Danny Amendola and Olivia Culpo are back together.

Based on Amendola’s Instagram activity, the former Patriot and the former Miss Universe were together in Playa del Carmen, Mexico during President’s Day Weekend.

Amendola posted a couple of photos of the two of them on his story:

While Culpo posted this to her page:

Officially on VACA MODE --

A post shared by Olivia Culpo (@oliviaculpo) on

Amendola also recently commented, “Can’t beat that bro,” on one of Tom Brady’s Instagram posts of a sunset in Costa Rica.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "He was more hurt than what we thought. The injury was a little bit more than what everybody in the building thought, including himself." -- C.J. Anderson, on Todd Gurley during Super Bowl LIII