Jamal Murray: Kyrie Irving ‘overreacted’, Irving: ‘I felt disrespected’

Dan Feldman
NBC Sports

Kyrie Irving accepted his $25,000 fine for throwing the ball into the stands after the Celtics’ loss to the Nuggets on Sunday without complaint.

But that doesn’t mean Irving was done talking about Jamal Murray, who provoked Irving by shooting on the final possession with Denver’s win already secure in an attempt to score 50 points.

Irving, via Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston:

“[The fine was] well deserved,” Irving told reporters at Boston’s offday practice Tuesday in Phoenix. “There’s a sense of professionalism that you have to uphold within this league, and I failed to do so, so I take full responsibility for it.”

“From a competitive standpoint, I think [the ball] absolutely deserved to go into the stands,” said Irving. “You just don’t play basketball like that, and it’s as simple as that. You just don’t. There’s a tradition and a respect within the league as well as within any basketball game. Obviously you’ve won the game, have it sealed, had a great game – the game of your life, and then you do something like that. It’s just petty, it’s immature. But we’ll see him again though.”

“[Murray] knew. It’s not like I hold any resentment towards it, but hopefully going forward after this, he doesn’t do anything like that,” said Irving. “You’ve seen guys throughout the league, I believe there was an incident in Indiana when Lance Stephenson took a layup at the end where they were playing against Toronto, and it’s just experiences that everyone has.

“You just don’t do that in the NBA. In any game, it’s just a respect for your opponent, and I felt disrespected after the game. So your career-high ball goes in the stands.”

Murray, via Mike Singer of The Denver Post:

“That’s just makes me laugh,” Murray said here Wednesday of Irving’s comments. “I think everybody understood I was trying to go for 50. Everybody understood I was trying to break a record, make history. Not just here but Canadian history as well. I think it was more of an understandable shot. I think he’s a competitor, so obviously he’s going to take it a different way. I think he overreacted. But I’m not gonna sit here and go into a little debate. I’m just going to play basketball and we’re on to the next game.”

“I think somebody caught it and gave it to a little kid wearing my jersey, so I think that was a great moment,” Murray said from shootaround ahead of Wednesday’s game at Memphis. “That’s a lucky kid. He got a ball that’s worth 48 points.”

The fan wants Murray’s signature on the ball – something Murray said he’d be open to even if it means he doesn’t get to keep it.

“I’ll do that for sure. What goes around comes back around. That’ll be fun to interact with a fan. Get to see the ball again, sign it for him… I’m not really stressing (about the ball). I think I can repeat that day one game. If the kid’s willing to give it up, I’ll trade him some shoes or something for it. So that wouldn’t be too bad, either.”

Irving sounds mighty sensitive. And that’s OK. He can feel disrespected.

But also keep in mind: Murray clearly didn’t shoot with intent to disrespect. He wanted 50 points, and that’s it. That doesn’t absolve him if he were incidentally disrespectful. Murray seemed to know how Boston would take his shot, as he appeared conflicted about whether to hoist before he did. But this really wasn’t about the Celtics.

Of course, the Celtics are making it about themselves – and not looking good in the process. In the Lance Stephenson example Irving cited, the Raptors came off as hypocrites. At least Irving is consistent, though.

Murray is handling this much better, not even fretting about losing the ball.

It’s a ball. It was a shot. These are not things to get so worked up about.

Unless you’re trying to motivate yourself for the rematch in March, which is the only endearing potential explanation for Irving carrying on.

What to Read Next