Kyrie Irving’s Effusive Praise of Brad Stevens Has Nothing to do With Race

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On Friday evening, while Jeff Van Gundy was commentating on the Washington-Cleveland NBA game, he brought up Kyrie Irving’s comments about Brad Stevens. While on Geno Auriemma’s “Holding Court” podcast, Irving had this to say about his new coach:

“Brad fits perfectly in terms of that because he has an intellectual mind and is an intellectual human being,…It was something I was unbelievably craving in terms of what I wanted for my career.”

Of course Van Gundy stopped just short of condemning Irving’s words, claiming it was a clear (unfortunate) shot at his former Head Coach Tyrone Lue and his intellect. Of course if taken as Van Gundy paints this, there will be a clear racial element to the comments since they were effusive of a so-called “white” in direct contrast with a so-called “black”. In fact if Kyrie Irving were of a lighter hue, those comments would be condemned as racist, and not just by Van Gundy either.

Van Gundy went on to ludicrously suggest that Kyrie Irving should simply praise his new coach the next time, without denigrating his former coach in the process. He had to catch himself mid-sentence because he realised that that is exactly what Kyrie Irving had done. Read his comments again; Irving never mentions Head Coach Lue, but only praised his new Head Coach. The only one who brought the comparison up is Jeff Van Gundy, which demonstrates how much everyone walks on eggshells whenever a so called “white” is praised in comparison (or in this case, not) with a so called “black”.

If Mr. van Gundy has a problem with Irving’s comments it should be with their veracity. Is what Kyrie said true? The answer is yes. Boston are in first place in the Eastern conference, several games ahead of Tyrone Lue’s Cavaliers. All of this while Brad Stevens’ second best player, (best if you listen to certain elements in the media who were upset that Kyrie had left LeBron) Gordon Hayward through a gruesome and devastating injury. With him they might be perfect at this point, 9-0. That’s down to Brad Stevens’ ability to coach, his intellect as Kyrie would put it and he was just pointing that out.

Why should anyone expect Kyrie to have as much admiration for Tyrone Lue as a coach, as he does for Brad Stevens? All Lue has done since becoming Head Coach of the Cavs, is play the LeBron James system and Kyrie got tired of it. At the end of the day Kyrie Irving is going to be compared to the other great point guards in the league and he was never going to measure up in “the LeBron James” system.

Even though Irving is averaging less points than he did last year, he is clearly happier and is clearly the most important cog in a very well oiled Brad Stevens run machine. He knows that ultimately, the player he is going to have to measure up to and overtake in order to win, is not LeBron James but Steph Curry, who ever since joining up with a great Coach in Steve Kerr, has gone from peripheral star (which is what Irving was in the LeBron System), to the best and most successful player in the world. (Curry ties LeBron’s three rings if the Warriors repeat.)

If the Celtics continue playing the way they have been (even completing an impressive comeback against a Western Conference Powerhouse in the Thunder last night), they’re going to be the Eastern Conference representatives barring an injury to Irving, in the NBA Finals. (you heard it here first)

Brad Stevens has proven time and time again that he is a better coach than Tyrone Lue and there is nothing wrong with Kyrie Irving expressing admiration for the man, who might guide him to becoming what he wants to be: the best player in the world. Why do you think he’s always talking about “perfecting my craft?” It’s clearly what he wants and he is clearly optimistic he can get there, with Brad Stevens as his head coach.


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Dean Nestor

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