Kyrie Irving

USA Today

2018-19 Celtics

If Brad Stevens is dropping f-bombs in February, we’re all in trouble.

February 27, 2019 - 10:04 am

Let’s take a trip back to the beginning of this NBA season. The Boston Celtics were coming off a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals that was incredibly impressive. They lost Gordon Hayward within minutes of the start of the season, then lost Kyrie Irving, and still made it to the Eastern Conference Finals. It was a time of Jayson Tatum becoming a star, Scary Terry becoming a monster, and the Celtics staking their claim to be the team that was going to take over for Golden State. 

Because let’s be real. Not only did they make it to Game 7 of the conference finals without Kyrie and Gordon, but they should’ve won it. They had it and it was only because of the superhuman effort of LeBron James that Boston wasn’t in the Finals against Golden State.

They were running so far ahead of schedule, that when Kyrie and Gordon returned this year, there was a legit question of whether they could beat Golden State in the Finals. That’s how good they were last year. That’s how much hype there was. And it was it all legit. They were that good. And if anyone was going to end the Warriors and the dynasty, it was Boston. And now look at em. Not only are not a threat to Golden State, they’re no longer a threat to anyone in the East. Never home court throughout, if the playoffs started today, they wouldn’t even have it in the first round. They’re fifth in the East. They’re three games behind the Pacers… looking up at an Indiana team that has been without Victor Oladipo for a month.

And while the Pacers have kept on rolling, the Celtics have kept on throwing up all over themselves. They’ve lost three straight, including a double-digit loss to Chicago on Saturday and then were run off the court last night in Toronto. The final score was 118-95, but it was a lot worse than that. How bad was it?

It was so bad that Brad Stevens was dropping f-bombs in the first half. Yes, that Brad Stevens. The most mild-mannered, polite, professional coach you will ever come across. 

But when Jayson Tatum was called for an offensive foul late in the first half, with Boston already down by 21, Stevens goes legend. And because you never ever seen something like this, we’ve got to review the entire sequence.

And then mics caught Stevens on the sideline yelling at referee JT Orr for calling the T on Tatum for waving at him. Roll it.

What a glorious soundbite from Stevens. I mean, amazing. 

And I know what you’re thinking – this Celtics team has broken Brad Stevens. That if Brad Stevens is dropping f-bombs in February, we’re all in trouble.

Nah, I’m not going that far. They haven’t broken Brad Stevens. That wasn’t a guy losing his mind and flying into a rage that was a guy who was just disgusted and disappointed with everything. In fact, rather than criticize Stevens, I’m going to compliment him. I mean, I don’t condone it, but you have to admit, in terms of tone, delivery, usage, context, that was a PERFECT F bomb, from a near perfect coach. And it’s a good thing I don’t condone it or I’d include it another 15 times in this take. Because I’ve watched it on my own about 100 times. And I laugh every single time. I don’t condone it. It’s just one of my favorite f bombs ever. Given who did it and how perfectly he delivered it.

Having said that. Back to the bigger picture… and don’t get this twisted, just because I don’t think this Celtics team has broken Brad Stevens, doesn’t mean that I couldn’t see how they would...  Or still could. Again, they were supposed to be the heir apparent.  Supposed to run away in the East and then knock the Warriors the hell out. And there’s nothing about this crew right now that says that’s going to happen. Because last night’s beatdown at the hands of the Raptors isn’t just one of those things. That’s no one off and that’s not just one of those things that happens over the course of a long year. They’re no right. They haven’t been right, and just thinking they’re going to get right when the postseason starts, as Kyrie seems to think, is really dangerous thinking. I mean, Kyrie has some pretty whack thoughts rattling around his dome; we know that; but thinking he and they will just throw switch when the gamers really matter might be his most whack thought of all. Because when I look at this Celtics team right now, I see a team with no identity. No chemistry. No nothing. Right now, the whole is way less than the sum of its parts. Something is really off here. 

Think about it…They got Kyrie and Gordon back and somehow they got worse. This team should not be this bad. They shouldn’t be getting hammered by the Bulls ever and they shouldn’t be getting destroyed by the Raptors. Not when you have this kind of talent. So what hell is going on with the Celtics? How is this happening?

So what the hell has happened to this team? Brad Stevens has one idea: "The reality is that we're taking a lot of shortcuts and not being as solid as we have been in the past in the last two games. I thought we were really good against Milwaukee. So, it's not like we don't know what we need to do, but for whatever reason, we've taken too many shortcuts. You can't do that against any team. Certainly tonight, they exposed us and played great."

What say you, Kyrie Irving?

To recap Kyrie’s thoughts. He was asked about the head coach saying that the team was taking shortcuts and his response: “I don't know. It's up to Brad.”

I don’t want to read too much into that, but going with your coach’s first name there is something. And so is completely bailing on taking responsibility for the team and those shortcuts.

And neither was his response to what Marcus Smart said about the team not playing together: "That's Marcus' opinion. I respect it."

Do you, Kyrie? Do you really respect it? Because it sure didn’t sound like it.

A team that is playing together, would have its best player and supposed team leader, responding in a different way. But instead of taking ownership, he put it off on Brad to fix it and brushed off Smart’s idea. 

I’m not going to go so far as to say that this is a sure sign that Kyrie is gone after this year, but he certainly doesn’t seem to be bleeding green and white. Again, it’s a tough loss and guys are going to show their frustrations in a lot of different ways after getting humiliated like that, but that’s not a guy leading from the front; and he sure doesn’t look and sound like a guy who wants to be there, does he? Does it Celtic fan?? Does it?

And if they can’t get that talent on the same page, and if the players who are supposed to lead, can’t lead, then maybe then trust me, when they go throw that proverbial switch, there’s no way they even find it. 

So how do we describe what just happened to the Celtics last night? I’m going back to Brad Stevens again.