BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Celtics may have turned a corner. The same might be able to be said about their best player.
Kyrie Irving, largely credited with changing the mood of the team on their cross-country flight last week, spoke to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes and admitted that when it’s come to the leadership role required of him this year, he has not aced the exam.
“The way I’ve handled things, it hasn’t been perfect,” Irving told Yahoo after Saturday night’s win over the Lakers. “I’ve made a lot of mistakes that I take full responsibility for. I apologize. I haven’t done it perfectly. I haven’t said the right things all the time. I don’t want to sit on a place like I’m on a pedestal from anybody. I’m a normal human being that makes mistakes. For me, I think because of how fixated I was on trying to prove other people wrong, I got into a lot of habits that were bad, like reading stuff and reacting emotionally. That’s just not who I am.”
Irving later told Haynes: “I’m still learning, bro. I come from a suburb of New Jersey. I’m not used to all this.”
That win over the Lakers was the Celtics’ third in a row, a stretch that’s included a blowout win at Golden State over the defending champions. Those wins came after a disappointing showing at home against the Rockets, a game where Irving showed up to the arena and complained about the cameras being on him. The fact that Irving complained about such attention while starring in movies and ad campaigns became a point of criticism on the superstar, but Irving explained to Haynes that his issue is more with the 24/7 reality show-type nature that encompasses everything with the NBA.
“Look, I respect the ones that came before me, but they didn’t endure social media, the 24/7 news cycle. [NBA commissioner] Adam Silver was right — it really affects people in different ways. These are just different times. People are dealing with anxiety, depression and other disorders that affects their well-being. Some people can’t handle all of this, and we need to be mindful of that,” Irving told Haynes. “It’s just when you come into this business now, it’s more entertainment now more than anything else. That’s what bothers me the most. It’s like a freaking reality show at every corner. Everything that someone says is the next [big controversy].”
Irving, who told Haynes that he’s disconnected from all of his social media platforms, said he’s just hoping and trying to be the best leader he can. He said the issues that he’s brought up recently and in the past had to do with how the media has evolved, but that he’s now “done complaining about it.”
“I was just sick of it after a while. I’m a human being who happens to be a hooper,” Irving said. “I have feelings about it, but I’m not going keep badgering the media, keep badgering other people, keep badgering this or that. It’s about moving forward and keeping my sanctuary as safe as possible.”
The 26-year-old Irving has averaged 23.5 points and 6.9 assists per game this year, leading the Celtics in both categories. He scored 19 points with 11 assists and five rebounds in the win over the Warriors, he rested vs. the Kings, and he dropped 30 on the Lakers (with seven rebounds and five assists) on Saturday night.