It appears that Kyrie Irving is serious when he said the Boston Celtics are going to “run over everybody” this season following their 117-108 win against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, and it sounds like he’s ready to be a better leader to make that happen.
Irving is one of the oldest players on the Celtics — only Al Horford, Gordon Hayward, Brad Wanamaker and Marcus Morris are older. He’s also one of the most experienced, having played with and won a championship with LeBron James in Cleveland.
If the Celtics are going to succeed this year and make a deep postseason run, Irving is going to have to help lead them there.
That’s exactly why he called James after their loss to the Orlando Magic on Saturday to apologize.
“I had to call ‘Bron and tell him like, ‘I apologize for being that young player that wanted everything at his finger tips,'” Irving said Wednesday. “I wanted everything to be at my threshold. I wanted to be the guy that led us to championships. I wanted to be the leader. I wanted to be all that.
“The responsibility of being the best player in the world and leading a team is something that’s not meant for many people. ‘Bron was one of those guys that came to Cleveland and tried to really show us what it’s like to win a championship — and it was hard for him. Sometimes getting the most out of the group, it’s not the easiest thing in the world.
📹 Kyrie explains why he called LeBron James after finally understood what being a leader is all about pic.twitter.com/oZsXKIMeSq
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) January 17, 2019
The call came just after Irving made harsh criticisms of his younger teammates following the loss to Orlando, where he slammed their lack of experience and suggested that the younger players are not playing hard enough for the entire game.
Irving apologized for those comments on Wednesday, too, saying that he should have kept those criticisms in house.
It was that night, though, that made him realize he needed to call James. He finally understood what James was going through in Cleveland — and knows he can help point him in the right direction to lead the Celtics forward.
“What that brought me back to was like, alright how do I get the best out of this group with the success that they had last year, and then helping them realize what it takes to win a championship,” Irving said.
Irving calling LeBron to apologize is a big enough event on its own, but when you add in James’ side, the whole thing becomes almost epic. Why? Because according to Joe Vardon at The Athletic, James got the call from Irving when he was having dinner with none other than Kevin Love, the former Cavs teammate of both James and Irving.
Love told Vardon that he, James, and a few others were just “having some vino and enjoying the night” when Irving’s call came in.
“LeBron looked down at his phone and he showed us,” Love told The Athletic, describing the scene. “He was like, ‘I wonder what he wants?’”
It was just a coincidence, of course. But considering who James was with, and the history he, Irving, and Love share together, there couldn’t have been a more meaningful time for that call to come in.
Irving’s career night leads Celtics past Raptors
The Celtics were all tied up with the Raptors with less than one minute left in the game on Wednesday night at TD Garden.
Irving drilled a mid-range fadeaway bucket and then hit a deep 3-pointer to help propel the Celtics past Toronto, leading them to the nine-point win. The Raptors held a 104-100 lead with 4:22 left on Wednesday night, too, however they gave up 17 of the next 19 points. The Celtics, thanks to Irving, ended the night on a 17-4 run.
The Celtics point guard — who dropped 10 points and six assists in the final quarter — finished the night with 27 points and a career-high 18 assists in the win. He scored or assisted on Boston’s final 25 points of the night, too.
“We’ve just got to become more consistent,” Irving said after the game. “Once that happens, we’ll run over everybody in this league. I can guarantee it.”
Kyrie Irving: “We’ve just got to become more consistent, and once that happens, we’ll run over everybody in this league. I can guarantee that.” pic.twitter.com/CeNwxz9G5p
— Ben Rohrbach (@brohrbach) January 17, 2019
Horford added 24 points for Boston, and Hayward put up 18 off the bench.
Kawhi Leonard led Toronto with 33 points and four rebounds, shooting 10-of-19 from the field. Serge Ibaka added 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Danny Green finished with 15 points. The Raptors had won seven of their last eight games heading into Wednesday night, too, and were in prime position to hold onto the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
More from Yahoo Sports:
• Report: Tourney nixes Ball’s team after $10K request
• Bob Costas announces his NBC career is over
• Deion Sanders has some advice for Heisman winner
• ’96 World Series MVP charged with child sex abuse