This offseason left many questions for the Brooklyn Nets and NBA analysts alike. A plethora of these questions floated around Kyrie Irving. Can he be a leader? Was he the problem in Boston? How will he fare in his new situation? I’m sure there are plenty more, but they all follow this train of thought more or less. Does Kyrie have what it takes to lead? Well, Brian Lewis of the NY Post seems to think he is taking steps in the right direction.
Over the course of the last few weeks, various players of the Brooklyn Nets roster have met up in Cali to get to working together. How this pertains to Irving? He apparently was one of the main players who orchestrated this. Lewis writes:
It’s noteworthy that it was newcomer Kyrie Irving — whose leadership skills were questioned when he played in Boston — who led the way.
“It was basically player-driven,” Theo Pinson told The Post at a Nets youth camp at Hellenic Classical Charter School in Park Slope. “Kyrie was out there, and we wanted to get with him, so we just all went out there and just worked out together.”
What’s also noteworthy is what the sophomore Theo Pinson said. Yes, it being player-driven is huge. Great to see the players take responsibility and accountability of getting better and meshing on their own. Those are good signs from a team that understand what the borough of Brooklyn expects from them. They can’t sleep on the laurels of last season’s Cinderella run into the postseason or the still unreal feeling of signing two of the best players at their position in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.
But the other part which is easing on the nerves is that Pinson said that the Brooklyn Nets players WANTED to be out there with Irving. They wanted to get out there and build a bond and chemistry with their new starting PG. That’s great to hear after all the news and reports of players having a hard time playing with Irving. Those reports and thoughts seem to be more overblown as the days go by. Much of the Boston organization have spoken out on Irving’s behalf at this point, so a lot of the thoughts on him seem to be coming up baseless. And it’s not just the meshing on the court that is occurring. Pinson (courtesy of Lewis) speaks of 2k tournaments had by the Nets players. This is great bonding that goes beyond the Xs and Os of on-court play.
But my next question is, why is this news? I’m sure plenty of players across the league do similar things, so why is it such a big deal with Kyrie Irving? Well obviously because of all the drama attached to his name across the course of the last few years, but even then, this isn’t new. I wrote an article for Nothinbutnets.com (click here to read) where I detailed why I thought Irving would prove doubters wrong. In it, I brought up a Jackie McMullen piece in which she speaks on Irving trying to put up extra shots and get extra practice in the middle of a back to back on the road. His teammates instead went to the club to party, which truly bothered him. The team would go on the get blown out the next night. Irving does the same thing in both these situations. The big difference? His teammates. His teammates in Brooklyn seem to be more mature (even the younger ones) and more grounded. Unlike the Celtic team that left Irving to shoot alone, Brooklyn’s players followed his lead and decided to get a head start on building chemistry, weeks before a legitimate practice can be had. Irving also inviting a talented player such as Carmelo Anthony to practice with them gives Nets players increased competition and a potential short term mentor. Long story short, it seems like Kyrie is on the right path to proving he can be a capable leader.