Arbella Early Edition

MacMullan shares insight on Jaylen's relationship with Kyrie

"That's when the two of them actually developed a relationship a little bit."

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To say Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics have history would be an understatement.

Irving spent just two seasons in Boston from 2017 to 2019 but departed as a villain for a variety of reasons, from reneging on his October 2018 promise to re-sign with the Celtics in free agency to essentially quitting on the team during its 2019 second-round playoff loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Irving has continued to antagonize Celtics fans since his departure -- he stomped on the TD Garden logo after his Brooklyn Nets defeated Boston in the 2021 playoffs, then flipped off the C's crowd in Game 1 of the teams' 2022 first-round series -- but what is his relationship like with Boston's players now? While Irving generally got along with Celtics star Jayson Tatum thanks to their Duke connection, he and Jaylen Brown famously butted heads on multiple occasions.

During Thursday's episode of Arbella Early Edition, former ESPN reporter and longtime NBA analyst Jackie MacMullan shared some interesting insight on how the Irving-Brown relationship has evolved over the years.

"In the early days with Kyrie and Jaylen Brown, it wasn't so great," MacMullan said, as seen in the video above. "It wasn't really good at all. In fact, (ex-Celtics forward) Marcus Morris and Kyrie I think even bullied Jaylen Brown a little bit when they first got here, because they thought he was a kid that thought he knew everything. And I thought that was always a little unfair."

MacMullan suggested that Irving and Brown since have mended fences, though, in part due to Brown reaching out to Irving during the 2021-22 season, when the Nets star was barred from playing home games due to his refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19. (The state of New York had a mandate that required professional athletes to be vaccinated to play in games there; the mandate was lifted in March 2022.)

"Over time -- and this is where Kyrie Irving turned on his approach to Jaylen Brown, was when everybody was on (Kyrie) for the (mask) mandate in New York where he wouldn't play without the vaccination and all those other things, it was Jaylen Brown that reached out to him privately to check in on him," MacMullan explained. "He did that as a member of the (NBA) Players Association. And I think that's when the two of them actually developed a relationship a little bit.

"So I don't think these guys are making this up. It doesn't mean they don't want to beat him (in the NBA Finals). But I don't think -- all those years back when Kyrie was here, everything's changed for all three of those guys (Irving, Tatum and Brown)."

Brown kept things cordial at NBA Finals Media Day when asked about his two seasons with Irving, noting he "learned a lot from Kyrie while he was here" and that it's been "great to see his journey" since he left Boston. So, it does appear there's no lingering animosity between the two stars.

That said, you can expect Brown and the Celtics to put all pleasantries aside when they see Irving on the court in Game 1 on Thursday night.

"They’re going to give us their best," Irving said Wednesday of the Celtics. "I know they’re not going to slow down when they see me. They’re going to come at me even more."

Jaylen Brown talks about former teammate Kyrie Irving and what the Celtics will need to do to stop him on the court
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