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#pounditFriday, January 21, 2022

Marcus Smart defends Kyrie Irving over leadership criticism

Kyrie Irving

The Boston Celtics had much better success in the postseason last year when Kyrie Irving sat out with an injury, but at least one of the star point guard’s teammates thinks the idea of the team being worse off with Irving is complete nonsense.

On Thursday, Marcus Smart was asked by reporters if Irving’s inability to lead is the reason the Celtics fell short of expectations. He enthusiastically defended Irving.

“That’s just a bulls— statement to say his leadership killed us,” Smart said, via Kyle Hightower of The Associated Press. “Not one of us on this team knows what Kyrie been through. … It was hard for him as well. He was forced into a situation where it was business over friendships.”

Smart went on to say that the Celtics “took (Irving) in with full arms” and that his teammates were never really able to understand him because “we’re not in his shoes.” It’s unclear exactly what Smart was referring to, but Irving made similar references to the adversity he has faced during interviews earlier in the season.

No matter how you look at it, the Celtics were one win away from reaching the NBA Finals a year ago, and both Irving and Gordon Hayward watched from the sideline. Many expected them to blow the Eastern Conference away this year, and they ended up embarrassing themselves against the Milwaukee Bucks. Irving seemed to always point the finger at someone else and didn’t even hold himself accountable at his worst, which is the definition of a poor leadership trait.

Smart and Irving are close friends, so Smart’s opinion is obviously biased. It would be a shock if everyone on the Celtics’ roster felt Irving was a good leader this season.


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