Celtics Rumors: Kyrie Irving, Brad Stevens Had 'Heated Moment' on Bench

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistDecember 27, 2018

Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving and head coach Brad Stevens talk during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018, in Washington. The Celtics won 130-125 in overtime. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Alex Brandon/Associated Press

Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving and coach Brad Stevens reportedly had a "heated moment" on the bench during a Nov. 24 loss to the Dallas Mavericks.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported Irving "directed words" at Stevens and others after being admonished for a turnover. Irving reportedly expressed "bottled-up frustration," though it's unclear what was said.

Charania's report indicated there has been no long-term fraying of the relationship between Stevens and Irving, and the Celtics have made changes since the verbal dust-up that have moved them back into the upper crust of the Eastern Conference.

Irving has admitted his role is not what he prefers.

"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. "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."

The Celtics have been a slight disappointment this season with their 20-13 record well off the 60-win pace some envisioned. Their offense was a stagnant disappointment for much of the first two months before coming on of late. Boston ranks second in offensive efficiency in December and is second behind the San Antonio Spurs in net rating.

A big reason is that Irving is playing more like his peak self. He's averaging 25.3 points and 6.3 assists for the month, shooting 49.0 percent from the floor and 44.9 percent from three-point range on nearly seven attempts a night.

It's clear there is some remaining discord with how to play over the long term. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown broke out during the 2018 postseason with Irving out of the lineup but have been somewhat marginalized as he leads the show this year. Brown has been particularly disappointing.

The Charania report categorizes this as a star player's expressing his frustrations. That happens all the time. If anything, it seems Irving chose the right time and place to express himself, and the Celtics have responded in kind.