Kyrie Irving on Leadership Role with Nets: 'It's Not Like I'm an Assh--e'

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 17, 2020

Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving plays during an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving defended his leadership style while addressing the media Friday.

As seen in this video courtesy of SNY, Irving said his main goal as a leader is to be "communicative" and "impact winning":

Irving came under fire this week after a 117-106 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers when he said the Nets have "glaring" needs and singled out certain players who he believes will be part of the team moving forward.

With regard to who he believes are part of the Nets' core, Irving said: "Collectively, I feel like we have great pieces, but it's pretty glaring we need one more piece or two more pieces that will complement myself, KD [Kevin Durant], DJ [DeAndre Jordan], GT [Garrett Temple], Spence [Dinwiddie], Caris [LeVert], and we'll see how that evolves."

Per Alex Schiffer of The Athletic, Kyrie attempted to clarify his statement Friday by saying he "didn't mean to single anybody out" and that he "probably could have added a few more names to his comments to avoid controversy."

Notably, Irving didn't mention center Jarrett Allen or guard Joe Harris on Wednesday despite the fact that both of them have been key players for the team over the past couple of seasons.

Dating back to last season with the Boston Celtics, Irving has often come under fire for things he has said about his teammates in the media.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

Last January, Irving was critical of some of the Celtics' young players, according to Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports:

"The young guys don't know what it takes to be a championship level team. What it takes every day. And if they think it is hard now, what do they think it will be like when we're trying to get to the Finals?

"There were no expectations last year. Everyone played free and easy. Everyone surpassed whatever they expected for themselves. This year? We all have high expectations. The players, the coaches, everyone. And that's good, but we aren't doing it yet."

ESPN's Jackie MacMullan reported in May that Irving's teammates were "treading lightly" at times due to his "mood swings."

The free agent made the move from Boston to Brooklyn during the offseason, and he continues to be under the microscope despite missing all but 14 games this season due to injury.

Kyrie has put up big numbers when healthy this season with averages of 27.2 points, 6.9 assists and 5.3 rebounds, but Brooklyn has struggled at times without him. The Nets currently occupy the eighth and last playoff position in the Eastern Conference, but they are just 18-22 after going 42-40 last season.

Brooklyn has the makings of a contender in the East next season and beyond when Durant returns from injury to join forces with Irving and Co., but Kyrie has to make the most of what is in place if the Nets are going to be a factor this season.

Related

    Marks Denies Rumors of Nets' Interest in Popovich as HC

    Brooklyn Nets logo
    Brooklyn Nets

    Marks Denies Rumors of Nets' Interest in Popovich as HC

    Rob Goldberg
    via Bleacher Report

    30 Teams, 30 Days: Bulls ✍️

    We spoke to MJ’s teammates about his work ethic and psychological warfare against opponents ... and his own team ➡️

    NBA logo
    NBA

    30 Teams, 30 Days: Bulls ✍️

    Ric Bucher
    via Bleacher Report

    Ranking the NBA's Greatest Shooting Bigs of All Time 🎯

    The top ten big men who can connect from the outside

    NBA logo
    NBA

    Ranking the NBA's Greatest Shooting Bigs of All Time 🎯

    Andy Bailey
    via Bleacher Report

    NBA's Travel Policy for Missed COVID-19 Test

    League announces COVID-19 testing guidelines for players traveling to Orlando without team

    NBA logo
    NBA

    NBA's Travel Policy for Missed COVID-19 Test

    Adam Wells
    via Bleacher Report