Kyrie Irving is bad right now. No way around it. He’s shot 31 percent (19-for-62) from the field over his last three games and gone 4-of-20 from 3-point range. Sound the alarms.
The Celtics are down 3-1 against the Bucks in their second-round series after coasting to a win in Game 1. Irving shot 57 percent from the field in that game and made 2 of 5 shots from deep. Apparently, the slump he’s in right now isn’t impacting his confidence, nor should it for one of the best basketball players in the world. But his self-belief may have gotten the best of him in the postgame presser because he said some weird things after Monday night’s loss.
“Who cares?” Irving said after being asked about his shooting woes. “I’m a basketball player. Prepare the right way. Like I said, it’s a little different when your rhythm is challenged every play down. You’re being picked up full court. They’re doing things to test you.”
Yes, this is true. In the NBA playoffs, opponents are doing things to test you. But what everyone will talk about is the “who cares” comment. Why? Because it follows the narrative surrounding Irving right now. He called out his teammates this season, doesn’t seem overly invested in winning with the Celtics, and is expected to leave this offseason. Saying “who cares” furthers the sentiment about the All-Star. But wait, there’s more.
“The expectations on me are going to be sky-high. I try to utilize their aggression against them and still put my teammates in a great position while still being aggressive. I’m trying to do it all. For me, the 22 shots? I should have shot 30. I’m that great of a shooter.”
So now he’s John Starks?
Listen, Irving is that great of a shooter. Let’s not forget what he did against the Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals. But, again, the narrative around Irving right now is that of a selfish, me-first player. He forced his way out of Cleveland because he didn’t like sharing the spotlight with LeBron. Now that he has what he apparently wanted — his own team — he thinks he should shoot more when he’s shooting so poorly. It doesn’t take an “actual genius” to know that makes no sense.
Irving is unquestionably one of the greatest players in today’s game and one bad shooting slump won’t define his career. But the quotes he’s issuing these days speak could and the sooner he fixes that element of his attitude the sooner everyone will revere him for his talent instead of questioning him for his leadership.