Written by Chris Walker (@cwlkr20)
Kyrie Irving was the Robin to LeBron James’s Batman after the latter’s homecoming. LeBron orchestrated where the Cleveland Cavaliers would go and tutored his younger comrades in how to win. In time, Irving grew and found success playing with the world’s best player. Nonetheless, he wanted more. It’s one thing to support the man — it is another to be the man. Irving wanted out, and got it, yet it’s too easy to say he’s Batman II. Sure, he has his own city to defend now, but the New Jersey-native just touched down in his own version of Blüdhaven. Congrats Kyrie Irving — you’re Nightwing.
Considering what we know about Kyrie’s journey to New England, it probably was just as petty as Dick Grayson leaving home. The first Boy Wonder grew tiresome of Batman’s machinations and tactics, but also had matured from the boy that Wayne met after his parents died to a man, who could handle his own business. Thus Nightwing was born.
Irving could have waited in Cleveland for LeBron to leave, one way or another. Isn’t that both the gift and the curse? He’d inherit the kingdom and graduate to being the Cavaliers’ best player. Kyrie would be the leader; he’d become the man. In accord, Irving would be running a team built for another player. He’d be just filling in for another guy’s spot, as best as he could — so why not move on?
And why not now? When the league has the most big name player movement in years, why sit out? If a team needed him, they’d have to move some mountains though. Or a probable lottery pick — like the Boston Celtics did. In addition to fan favorites, Jae Crowder, Isaiah Thomas, and young asset Ante Zizic, the Celtics finally made a big move, having collected a yacht’s worth of assets. In essence, it fulfilled the desires of the franchise (and its passionate fans) & a player. The Celtics got a young star and Kyrie gets a real shot to lead a team.
This squad has transformed from the lottery to top of the Eastern Conference since its first rebuild. This topic has been reiterated time and time again, but, even now, the Celtics are a completely different team than last year’s squad. No more Thomas and Crowder, but also no more Avery Bradley, officially making Marcus Smart the team’s longest serving player — and even he could be gone if Danny Ainge can get a big enough asset. However, that’s the nature of the NBA. It’s still a business, whose main goal is bringing the Larry O’Brien trophy home.
Which is where the story is left to be determined. Right now, the Golden State Warriors are considered number 1 and the Cavaliers & San Antonio Spurs are 1 a&b. In some ways, the Celtics are still in the faction of teams right under that, with the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder. Bringing in Gordon Hayward this past summer, a fellow young all-star, allows for diverse scoring. When he’s healthy, we’ll get a fuller picture on how he fits into this team’s scheme.
Second year Celtic Al Horford is a steady, mature locker room presence and strong contributor. Brad Stevens is still designing and calling the plays, able to find a way to highlight anyone’s skills and hide ineptitudes. Drafting Jayson Tatum, the growth of Jaylen Brown, and making the team younger overall, means the C’s are aiming for today and tomorrow with their recent moves.
And that’s also why Kyrie isn’t Batman — he’s still young. He’s has a team of Titans to lead, but LeBron still wears the cowl with no intention of relinquishing it. Irving is out on his own now — away from the shadow James casts. At the end of the day, isn’t it better to be your own man than try to live up to someone else’s name?