Celtics’ Irving Cuts Short Talk of a Long NBA Career
By Steve Bulpett
ATLANTA -- The discussion was about Vince Carter, now a Hawk at 41 (42 in January), still going strong, and Kyrie Irving, 26, was asked about his own career longevity in that context.
But before the question could be finished, Irving said through a grin, “Naw. Naw, once I’m done with this, hopefully in my early- to mid-30s, I’m done with this. I’m done with this game.”
“I want to be,” the Celtics point guard said before taking on the Hawks Friday night. “I love basketball itself, but everything that comes with it, I’m not... yeah, it doesn’t really matter to me in terms of my life. So I enjoy the game. I enjoy being with my teammates, playing every single day, being an NBA player. This is a dream that I’ve had since I was a kid. I think everything else that comes with it doesn’t necessarily hold the same stature as it does for other people. I enjoy it though. I love this game more than anything.”
As for what issues he would take with the NBA life, Irving went deep.
“I would just say I wish sometimes there was more empathy in terms of what we’ve committed ourselves to doing every single day, you know, putting our bodies on the line and kind of understanding kind of the mental strain that you put on just trying to be great every single day at just literally putting the ball in the hoop better than you did yesterday,” he said. “So it comes at a price, but I think that it’s what we all signed up for. And it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to take for as long as possible in order to win as many championships and be as successful as I can.”
“I just think that the material gain in it, it doesn’t really matter to me anymore as much as it once did. So the little things are what make the game special -- you know, coming every single day and then playing with these guys and still trying to figure out what that challenge is to be better as a basketball player, rather than like what’s my popularity like or what branding could be done here? That all comes, but I think that the love of the game should always outshine everything else that comes with the NBA lifestyle.”
Getting back to Carter, it’s interesting to note he’s just three months younger than Brad Stevens.
“I can’t jog 20 minutes a day without most of my body hurting,” the Celtics coach said, “so I would say that it’s pretty amazing what he’s doing. And I really respect Vince for a lot of reasons, but when you think about the fact he was a high flyer, and he’s always been a skill player, but he’s gotten really skilled. Now he’s like a ridiculously good shooter. And 25,000 points you don’t get just from being able to do one thing. He’s got a heck of a skill set and he’s really had a heck of a career.
“I don’t see it ending any time in the next 10 years,” Stevens added.
Horford sits out
Lingering soreness in his left knee caused Al Horford to miss his first game this season Friday night. He is expected to play Saturday against the Mavericks in Dallas.
″(It’s) not a long-term thing,” Stevens said, ’but with the stretch we’re in right now, an extra day from Wednesday until hopefully he’ll be available (tonight).”
Said Horford: “I’ve been dealing with pain issues, and just with the back-to-back, we just thought it would be the best thing to do for me to rest (last night) and get ready for Dallas.
“It’s part of the season. It’s been a couple of weeks [that he’s experienced discomfort in the knee]. I don’t want to miss extended time or anything like that, so we’re just staying ahead of it. It’s not concerning.”
Rookie Robert Williams was activated for the first time since Nov. 9 in Utah.
Irving had already apologized on Twitter Thursday for commenting late Wednesday, “I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. (Expletive) Thanksgiving,” after the loss to the Knicks. Yesterday he offered another mea culpa, while noting the remarks were based on his Native American heritage (his late mother was born into the Standing Rock Sioux tribe).
“I think that the realization of just the message that you want to send,” he said for why he took to social media the day after to explain he “meant no disrespect” to those who celebrate the holiday. “Obviously I don’t hold anybody in contempt or anything against them if they celebrate Thanksgiving or anything like that. I obviously allowed the frustrations after the game to fester into saying something like that that shouldn’t be said in a professional setting, no matter what my beliefs are in terms of Thanksgiving and where I come from.
“So I don’t necessarily live in that hub as much anymore in terms of what I say and the amount of attention it gets through the social media and everywhere, but I think that the responsibility I have to make sure that the kids as well as other adults and parents understand that certain things shouldn’t be said in that environment, no matter what your beliefs are.
“And obviously I think knowing the backstory about where I come from as well as where my family comes from, it’s warranted to say something like that, but, as well, it shouldn’t ever be said like that, especially if kids are listening. I just wanted to issue an apology, just saying that, especially to a woman like that after the game (TV sideline reporter Abby Chin had wished him a Happy Thanksgiving). I’m just like, I don’t ever want to be in that position.”