Jeff Goodman: Kyrie Irving ‘treated Tatum like LeBron treated Kyrie'


When Kyrie Irving came to the Boston Celtics, he was looking to be his own man as a basketball player. For many years, he played in the shadow of one of the greatest players in NBA history, LeBron James, but eventually, he wanted a chance to lead a team.

Well, after two years in Boston, things clearly didn't work out well. After a season where the team failed to live up to expectations under Irving, it seems that Irving is preparing to leave Boston and the Celtics are "almost to the point of resignation" when it comes to bringing him back.

While the Celtics may miss Irving's offensive production, Stadium's Jeff Goodman thinks his departure could potentially have a positive impact on one of the team's young stars, Jayson Tatum. On NBC Sports Boston's Arbella Early Edition, Goodman opened up on Irving's relationship with Tatum and compared it to Irving's relationship with James.

I just think that (Tatum) was held back by Kyrie. I really do. I feel like Kyrie treated Tatum like LeBron treated Kyrie to some extent. You're my little brother. This is where you're going to be. We're not gonna let you spread your wings too much. We'll let you spread them, but you're still a piece here. If Tatum were allowed -- and he will be this year -- we're going to see. This kid is going to be a perennial All-Star in this league.

This is certainly an interesting note, as this would imply that Irving made the same leadership mistakes that James made when he helped to drive Irving out of Cleveland. But now, it seems that Tatum will get a chance to be a leader at a young age. And perhaps he can learn from Irving's mistakes.

As many have noted, if Irving does leave, Tatum becomes the face of the Celtics. And it will be on him to take the next step heading into the season. Tatum did average 15.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game last year, all improvements over his rookie year numbers, so he did develop. It just wasn't at the extent that many expected after his performance in the 2018 postseason.

Goodman would also go on to say that finding a point guard who can make things easier for Tatum would be a big difference-maker for Boston. Whether or not that's restricted free agent Terry Rozier is unclear, but he did work well with Tatum during the team's surprising postseason run in 2018.


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