Irving on Celtics debut: ‘I just can't wait to get back out there'


BOSTON -- This time of year, there's a learning curve that all players on all teams must go through -- even Kyrie Irving, one of the more decorated 25-year-olds you'll find in the NBA.

Not only is he dealing with the usual getting-to-know-his-new teammates, but the four-time All-Star is adjusting to a new team, a new coaching philosophy and with it, a fan base that's unlike any other in the NBA.
And while he has only been a Boston Celtic for a few weeks, he has been a quick study as to how to quickly ingratiate himself to the fans.
During a panel hosted by NBC Sports Boston's Abby Chin at the end of Boston's open practice on Sunday, Irving got the crowd going by starting a "Let's Go Cel-tics!" chant.
He and the rest of the Celtics hope to give their fans even more to cheer about tonight as they kick off their preseason slate of games at home against the Charlotte Hornets.
Part of the process of getting ready for the season is understanding that as important as every day can be to improvement, there's a balance that has to be struck between that and not overdoing things.
That's why earlier this week, Irving had a "maintenance" day where he did very little in practice.
While this is a new season, Irving and the Celtics are mindful of the fact that he has been to the NBA Finals each of the last three seasons. Those are the kinds of deep playoff runs that can gradually wear a player down unnecessarily over time.
I asked Irving about whether he's changed his preseason routine to better prepare for playing into late May and June.
"You just get smarter and become more efficient as to what workouts you're doing on a day-to-day basis," Irving said. "My focus level, as high as it is on the floor, it's the same as it is, off. So, just loving my body, giving it what it deserves, giving it great fuel and making sure I'm doing a great job of leading every single day."
There's another benefit to the preseason and it speaks to Irving's efforts to better display his leadership skills, which will be on full display this season with the Celtics.
As impressive as Irving has been throughout his time in the NBA, his ability to make those around him better will be a topic of discussion all season and just as important, a key to Boston having the kind of season so many envision them having.
And those lessons begin tonight.
He acknowledges one of his favorite parts of the preseason is seeing how his first-year teammates handle proven NBA players on opposing teams.
"The preseason is always their first time being around NBA talent for a constant amount of minutes, consistently over the game," Irving said. "Summer League is great, playing against guys in the summer is great, but now you have the sole intent to do everything possible to win a basketball game. So it changes, the dynamics change, the knowledge heightens up a little bit."
And rest assured, folks.
Irving will be ready.
"I just can't wait to get back out there," he says with a smile before adding, "and re-acclimate myself to NBA basketball games."


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