The most impressive part of Kyrie Irving’s performance in the newly released “Uncle Drew” had nothing to do with the box office.
Finally, Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens has gone to the movies.
Stevens saw “Uncle Drew,” a flick in which Irving plays an elderly man who tries to make it into the NBA, earlier this summer. And the movie actually got him into a theater. As he explained while guesting Tuesday on Chris Mannix’s podcast at Yahoo! Sports, that’s no easy task.
“We rented out a movie theater for our summer league team. So, we all went together,” Stevens said. “First of all, I haven’t been to a movie in so long that I didn’t realize they had the comfortable seats, where you could, like, put your feet up and order food…So the whole movie experience has changed since I last went to a movie, which is an indictment on me for not going to movies.”
Mannix tweeted later to an inquiring Celtics beat writer, Jay King of The Athletic, that Stevens hadn’t been to a movie since he saw the Owen Wilson-Vince Vaughn buddy comedy “Wedding Crashers,” which came out in 2005. It’s been so long that Stevens sold the idea of going to the movies as if he’d just discovered this new, niche idea for a date night.
“I could see where you could just go and watch a couple of movies, get a good dinner, a dessert, some popcorn,” he told Mannix. “It seems like a great night.”
Stevens spoke about other matters while on with Mannix. Here are some of the topics they touched:
* Irving’s free agency: Stevens does not plan on even mentioning free agency to Irving, who can hit the open market following this season.
“I’m not going to talk to him at all,” Stevens said. “I think one of things that I want to do is just give everything I can to all these guys while they’re here. And hopefully, the people that are here recognize that it’s a really good environment with a high upside for a long time…There’s no real discussion to be had. It’s more, we can’t wait to get to work.”
* Injury updates: Rehabs for Irving and injured forward Gordon Hayward are on schedule.
“They say (Hayward is) looking great, progressing well and should be good to go,” Stevens said. “I think he and Kyrie will be fully cleared by the time training camp starts and probably well before.”
The statement is in line with previous ones from Stevens and Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, who have expressed that both Irving and Hayward should return to full basketball activities in August.
Hayward’s season ended on opening night, when he broke his left ankle on an alley-oop attempt. Irving played his final game in March, when a left knee injury pushed him off the court. Both players missed the Celtics’ postseason run to the Eastern Conference Finals.
* I.T’s free agency: Former Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas told ESPN two weeks ago that he reached out to Ainge about coming back to Boston this summer. Thomas, who finished fifth in MVP voting with the Celtics in 2017, eventually signed a one-year, minimum deal with the Denver Nuggets.
The situation, however, gave Stevens a platform to discuss his fondness for Thomas, who played for him from 2015 to 2017.
“I love Isaiah, so I knew (that he reached out to Ainge),” Stevens said. “And I think that he’s one of the hardest workers, one of the most dedicated pros that I’ve been around. And like everyone else, I would love to see him have an unbelievable year…He meant a ton to Boston. He meant a ton to all of us…I can’t hold Isaiah in any higher regard.”
The Celtics traded Thomas and others for Irving last summer. Hip injuries and an uncomfortable fit with the Cleveland Cavaliers bogged down the fiery point guard’s production before the Cavs flipped him to the Los Angeles Lakers midseason. He projects to back up Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray this year.
* No more LeBron: Mannix asked Stevens for his thoughts on four-time MVP LeBron James going to the Western Conference. And though Stevens gave the usual answers (every free agent should choose what’s best for him, no need to overanalyze, winning isn’t about other teams but about internal development, etc.), he did drop a major compliment for the best player in the game.
“Eight years in a row to the Finals is one of the most remarkable feats, I think, in sports,” he said.
James’ Cleveland Cavaliers have downed the Celtics in the conference finals two years in a row. Stevens won’t have to experience such pre-Finals brutality now that James is on the Lakers.
Listen to Mannix’s full podcast with Stevens here.
Fred Katz covers the Celtics for MassLive.com. Follow him on Twitter: @FredKatz.