This Celtics’ season is not one many fans expected. Between starting out the year slow, to going on an 8-game win streak, to going on a losing streak, to beating the best teams in the Eastern Conference, etc. It’s been a rollercoaster of a year.
The Celtics had expectations of being the best team to contend with the Golden State Warriors. Although we haven’t seen that team night in and night out, we have seen glimpses, and last night was one of those times.
This team looks like a title contender when Kyrie is on. Last night, he was on. Questions of him being a true leader started as soon as he got traded to Boston last summer. Unable to lead the team in the playoffs last year due to injury, eyes were on him if he could lead this Celtics’ team to the Finals, and eventually a championship. A few bad games against teams we should be beating raised those questions of Kyrie’s leadership. Comments were made from Kyrie saying the young guys don’t know what it takes to win it all. Then Jaylen Brown comes in and says nobody can be pointing fingers and they must all stick together.
I understand where Kyrie was coming from when he made those comments, but I also understand where Jaylen is coming from. Although Kyrie is one of the only members of the team that has reached their expectations this year and one of the only guys that seem to come out and play every night, he can’t be calling out his teammates publicly. It’s just not a good look for the team and will cause some drama in the locker room.
Luckily for Kyrie, he played alongside one of the greatest players to ever step onto the court in Cleveland. Kyrie gave his old buddy LeBron a call to apologize for “being that young player that wanted everything at his fingertips.”
Kyrie goes on to talk about how LeBron is one of the few people that are able to handle a situation like this. It’s obvious Kyrie wants to be the best and lead this team to a championship, but there are so many responsibilities that come with being the leader of a championship team. You have to handle attitudes, which role each player has to play, and gaining respect from your teammates for them to recognize you as the team’s leader.
Every team will have guys with attitudes. After last year’s playoff run, a lot of the guys feel they should be playing more/have a more significant role. I get that, but when you have a team with so much talent, you have to sacrifice to make everything work. Kyrie has sacrificed his game all year, but some guys haven’t. That pisses Kyrie off, but he now realizes that he was once in their shoes, and that’s what’s helping his growth of being a leader. Realizing what they’re going through and understanding how to handle it better is signs of a leader forming in front of our very eyes.
Last night, Kyrie showed that this is his team. Not only did he come up in the clutch, hitting the biggest shots of the game, but he also got his teammates involved all game long, and finished with a career-high 18 assists. He’s doing what he’s best known for, but he’s also become much more unselfish since coming to Boston. That’s the sacrifice he makes for this team, and he just wants everybody to find their role and perfect it because if this team does, they’re close to unbeatable.
Kyrie calling LeBron is a huge sign of maturity for him. He’s realized where he’s gone wrong, looked to fix his mistakes, and manned up to apologize to his former teammate. Being a leader isn’t easy, especially on a championship contending team. I think Kyrie can be that leader, and we should be seeing improvements from the team moving forward. Sometimes all it takes is one game to wake your team up and look at the bigger picture. Hopefully, last night was that game.