Kyrie Irving publicly called out his teammates after a 105-103 loss to the Orlando Magic over the weekend, and on Monday he explained those comments and why his frustrations may have gotten the best of him.
"I never want to come from a place where I don't want to sound like, or make it feel like, I don't want to win a championship," he said, per Ian Begley of ESPN.com. "Sometimes I may come off and say things, never to question my teammates in public like that ever again; I just want to win so bad."
Irving was both visibly and vocally frustrated with his teammates after Saturday's loss, appearing to disagree with the decision by Gordon Hayward to pass to Jayson Tatum for the last shot of the game. He remained in the locker room after the loss:
That frustration spilled over into his remarks to reporters, with Irving lamenting the team's lack of experience, per ESPN.com:
"We had nothing to lose last year. Nobody had any expectations. ... We come into this season with expectations, and it's real. ... That's new, it's tough and it's hard.
"What we're facing now is nothing compared to being on that stage, trying to get a gold trophy," Irving explained. "It's hard now. What do you think it's going to be when we get to the Finals? We can't be comfortable being a fifth [seed]. I'm not comfortable with it."
The Celtics reached the Eastern Conference Finals a season ago, with both Irving and Hayward out with injury. Upon their return, however, the Celtics have seemed to struggle with chemistry and finding a way to best incorporate their impressive depth.
He also suggested some of the players were making excuses rather than taking accountability for mistakes or poor play:
"I know from the majority of fact that we're better than most teams in this league. It's just going out and proving it every single night and demanding it and actually showing it. So, until we do that every single night and realize our depth is a positive and all the wishes and could-haves and should have done that, once that goes out the window, then we'll be better.
"But until then, we're going to keep having these ups and downs and these lulls of going against teams on the road, and they just know they can take advantage of us down the stretch or when this group is or that group is out."
The sky isn't exactly falling in Boston, of course. The team is 25-17 and currently just 6.5 games behind the top seed in the East, the Toronto Raptors. But expectations in Boston are a title, or at very least a berth in the NBA Finals, and at the moment the Raptors, Milwaukee Bucks, Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers are all ahead of them in the standings.
While Irving's frustrations are newsworthy in the present, they will also be important for the front office to monitor long-term. Irving will become a free agent this summer if he declines his player option, and while Irving has said he would like to re-sign with the Celtics, nothing is guaranteed in that regard.