The Boston Celtics are rolling and it’s been mostly due to the play of guard Kyrie Irving who has had to wear a protective mask.
Irving is expected to remain in the clear mask for the next couple weeks, but still finds doing so a bit frustrating.
A few years back, Irving wore a black protective mask and went on to score a career-high 41 points against the New York Knicks.
Irving then switched to the clear mask, but his frustrations remain.
“I was telling some of my teammates, some of the fans, too, they were asking me whether I was going to wear the black mask” Irving said (h/t ESPN).
“The difference with the black mask is that (teammates are) not getting the ball because I couldn’t see outside of my eyesight,” Irving said to laughter.
“(Teammates were) like, ‘Oh, the Masked Man! The Black Mask! I scored that many (points for Cleveland) because I was just looking at the basket. So a lot of my peripheral vision and driving, I could only see what’s in front of me. That black mask, like, it just takes away your vision. So I’m just like, ‘Oh, basket.’ Like, this is just the best-case scenario. So that’s the whole black mask thing.
“I’m glad I get to wear a clear one. I’m telling (teammates), like, ‘Come on, show some gratitude. I’m showing gratitude, too, for not wearing that black mask.’ So, yeah, hopefully a few more weeks in the (clear) mask and I’ll be out of it.”
Irving knows he will have to stick with the protective mask and described his face as; “It’s broken. That’s that.”
Irving also expressed the challenges of wearing the mask while trying to play.
“It’s almost like having somewhat foggy blinders on,” Irving described.
“When I take off the mask, I can see everything. And when I have the mask on, I’m really dialed into what’s in front of me. My peripherals are a little cut off, up and down. It’s something to get used to.”
Nets, Knicks Targeting Kyrie Irving
According to the New York Times’ Marc Stein, there are already “credible rumblings” that the Knicks and Nets will pursue Irving, whose “intentions are not at all clear at this point”, should the All-Star guard hit the free agent market next July.
“There have been no firm indications from Irving or his camp that the All-Star guard is eyeing an exit from Boston next summer or that he’s angling to go to New York—as is often speculated,” Stein said.
Irving posted averaged 24.4 points, 5.1 assists during his first season with the Celtics.
Celtics, Marcus Smart Agree to 4-year, $52 Million Deal
Earlier this week, the Celtics and Smart were working toward a contract after Smart initially did not receive much contact from the team’s front office when free agency opened in early July.
Smart averaged 10.2 points, 4.8 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals for Boston last season and was a key contributor to their success.
Celtics Considering Four-Year, Nearly $50 Million Deal for Marcus Smart
Smart has wanted to remain with the Celtics and sees his value being worth more than the $12-to-16 million annual valuation that he expected to command during his stint in free agency.
Boston has held firm on their 12 million per year range valuation of Smart.
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