Jayson Tatum: Kyrie Irving Has Expressed Regrets About Celtics Tenure

Adam WellsApril 13, 2022

BROOKLYN, NY - MAY 25: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets and Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics fight for position during Round 1, Game 2 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on May 25, 2021 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Ahead of the Brooklyn Nets-Boston Celtics matchup in the first round of the NBA playoffs, Jayson Tatum discussed conversations he's had with Kyrie Irving regarding their time as teammates. 

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Tatum noted Irving has expressed remorse for how things went during his time in Boston.

"Obviously we've talked and there's some things that he probably told me he wish he could do (or) would've done differently," Tatum said. 

The Celtics acquired Irving from the Cleveland Cavaliers in August 2017. He was expected to be the missing piece for a Boston team that lost to Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals the previous season. 

A knee injury that required surgery kept Irving sidelined for the final 15 games of the regular season and entire postseason, but the Celtics still made a run to the Eastern Conference Finals thanks to breakout performances by Tatum and Jaylen Brown. 

The 2018-19 season saw the marriage between Irving and the Celtics dissolve in spectacular fashion. 

ESPN's Tim Bontemps reported in February 2019 that "virtually everyone involved with the Celtics has been some combination of disappointed and frustrated" with their overall performance that season, and "especially" with Irving. 

Earlier that season, Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported Irving had a "heated moment" with head coach Brad Stevens on the bench during a loss to the Dallas Mavericks. 

Irving vented his frustration publicly but couched it in wanting to do what's in the best interest of the team. 

"Truth is, I’m not necessarily playing the minutes that I want, the role that I want, that selfishly I would want for myself," Irving said at the time, via Charania. "And that all goes on the back burner in terms of being patient with what I have to do to grow as a leader of this team and help these other young guys to be more prepared for what they will encounter as they get older in this league and then what we’re going through right now."

After the Celtics' second-round playoff loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, Irving elected not to opt in to his contract and became a free agent. He signed a four-year deal with the Brooklyn Nets in July 2019.  

Irving's stat line in Boston looks very good. He averaged 24.1 points and 6.1 assists with a 40.4 three-point percentage in 127 starts, but there were certainly issues away from the court that ended the partnership between the All-Star and the Celtics. 

This will mark the second consecutive year that Irving and the Nets will take on the Celtics in the playoffs. Brooklyn eliminated Boston in five games in the first round last season. 

The Celtics will host the Nets at TD Garden on Saturday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.