Kyrie Irving is a five-time All-Star and an NBA champion. He’s widely considered one of the best basketball players on the planet.
Yet the 26-year-old is reinventing himself in his eighth season, knowing it’s probably necessary for the Boston Celtics to achieve their ultimate goal of winning the NBA Finals.
The latest example came Sunday night, when Irving scored just three points on 1 of 5 shooting as the Celtics defeated the Detroit Pistons 109-89.
“Even with my family, like, everyone’s used to me scoring this amount of points or doing this at a certain standard,” Irving told reporters in Detroit, according to MassLive.com. “And so am I. But at the same time the importance is us winning games and getting to the Finals. So that’s where it is.”
Irving added seven rebounds and five assists Sunday. He played just 23 minutes.
It would be understandable if Irving felt a bit uncomfortable in his new role, which requires him to spend more time facilitating Boston’s offense and contributing hard-nosed defense and less time scoring in isolation. But the point guard has adjusted mentally, even sharing his new mindset with teammates.
“I was talking to a few of my teammates about this, but my quote for this year is just, ‘Be cool,’ ” Irving said, per MassLive.com. “I really just have to stay cool. Because if I start bucking and getting back into the old habits of what I’m used to — and the clear realization is that this is not what I’m used to. So going from being a high-PPG scorer and being stat-dominated, and then coming to this type of environment where the best thing for us is to care about the team, and it’s not going to be everyone’s night every single night. But I know when it gets down the stretch, when I’m needed then I’m going to be ready. So that’s just being a professional.”
We’re not sure if “Be Cool” will become the Celtics’ version of “Do Damage” — the Boston Red Sox’s mantra en route to winning the 2018 World Series — but it’s definitely an admirable approach for an NBA superstar to take to what some might perceive as a diminished role.
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