In a startling display of public anger at a teammate, Boston Celtics All-Star guard Kyrie Irving unleashed an on-court tirade at fellow Celtics star Gordon Hayward on Saturday, moments after Hayward declined to set up a play for him in the closing seconds of a game against the Orlando Magic, as Yahoo! Sports reported. Two days later, Irving apologized — sort of — for the outburst.
The Celtics lost the game in Orlando Saturday, 105-103, as NBA.com reported, but with 2.9 seconds on the clock, the Celtics had the ball in Orlando’s end, with Hayward making an in-bounds pass coming out of a timeout. But rather than pass the ball to Celtics big man Al Horford, who would then pass to Irving as he charged the lane for a potential game-tying layup, Hayward sent the ball to second-year forward Jayson Tatum, whose jump shot from the corner went in and out as the clock expired.
Irving immediately threw up his hands and began shouting at Hayward. But in an interview after the game, Irving instead criticized Tatum and the Celtics’ other young players for the loss.
“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?” Irving said, according to CBS Sports.
Watch video of the final play of Saturday’s game, and Irving’s subsequent outburst, below.
On Monday, Irving appeared to express regret for his public dressing-down of Hayward, a nine-year-veteran who was an NBA All-Star in 2017 while a member of the Utah Jazz, during an interview at the Celtics’ shoot-around prior to Monday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets in New York, according to ESPN.
“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,” Irving said. “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.”
In his eight seasons since the Cleveland Cavaliers made him the top overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft out of Duke University, per Basketball Reference, Irving has played in the NBA Finals three times and won one championship, with the 2016/2017 Cavaliers.
“When you win, you want to taste it again,” Irving said, according to WEEI. “I came from a place where I asked for a trade and I come in here and I believe in this organization and I want these young guys to be successful. In order to do that we all have to all be on the same page, have that mindset; ‘a championship or nothing.’ Sometimes that can get the best of me at times.”