Prior to Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Monday, ESPN NBA analyst Jalen Rose delivered the eyebrow-raising take that Kyrie Irving might not be rooting for his Celtics team to win a title this season without him. Rose explained his position Tuesday, and argued that Kyrie won’t have the same power as a leader of the team if the Celtics were to win a championship this year.
“This is a human instinct. When I’m not a part of this program, I don’t want the ratings to be 10 times better than when I’m on it…. Does Kyrie want to stick it to his former team? He already did. He asked out of town, they traded him for a box of rocks. He won that.”
According to Rose, the dynamic inside the Celtics huddle would change drastically if the current squad earns a ring while Irving is watching from the crowd.
“You can’t now return to the Boston Celtics, if you’re Kyrie, and be that high-usage player that scored 25+ points, that has five assists, and every time there’s an out-of-bounds play or a big shot they draw up the play for you. Here’s why – the other 14 guys are going to look at the coach and be like ‘hey, what about me?’ I’m Rozier, I’m Tatum, I’m Brown, I’m Horford. I earned the equity last year when he wasn’t out here.’”
The Celtics, of course, will have to undergo some sort of on-court transformation next year anyway to integrate Gordon Hayward, who was expected to be a first- or second-option on any given night.