Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown defended former teammate Kyrie Irving in an interview with Brandon "Scoop B" Robinson of Heavy.com, saying Irving received an unfair amount of blame for the Celtics' issues last season:
"Kyrie got a lot of the blame and was undeserving. It wasn't his fault that certain guys couldn't take a step back. It wasn't his fault. That was the front office and the coach's fault. He gets a lot of that blame because he was the star. But a lot of that should be on the organization and coaching staff. It's in the past. Kyrie is in a better place in Brooklyn, somewhere his roots are. He'll be fine."
In his first season in Boston, the Celtics reached Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals even though he missed all of the playoffs because of injury. The team took a step back last season with Irving healthy, getting eliminated in the second round of the postseason.
As Boston struggled to live up to expectations, Irving was sometimes critical of his teammates to the media. In January, he said, "The young guys don't know what it takes to be a championship-level team."
ESPN's Jackie MacMullan reported in May that Celtics players were "treading lightly" early in the 2018-19 season because of his "mood swings."
The Celtics signed guard Kemba Walker in free agency to replace Irving. Both Brown and Jayson Tatum have progressed well alongside Walker, and Boston stands third in the Eastern Conference at 17-7.
While a shoulder injury has limited Irving to 11 games this season, the Nets are also in playoff position, sitting seventh in the East at 14-12.
Boston's young core continues to grow, while Brooklyn will boast the combo of Irving and Kevin Durant when Durant returns from injury next season, so the Celtics and Nets could be Eastern Conference adversaries for years to come. Despite that, Brown doesn't seem to harbor any ill will toward his former teammate.