In an audience filled with creative, astute 20-somethings like himself, Kyrie Irving chose to speak freely about a variety of topics at the Forbes Under-30 Summit, appearing as comfortable to speak about his past and future as he has since arriving in Boston.
In front of a packed crowd at the Emerson Colonial Theatre in Boston, Irving clarified and explained several issues, including his future in Boston, his feelings after winning the 2016 NBA title in Cleveland, and whether he truly believes the earth is flat.
It was an entertaining experience.
Irving made headlines before last year’s All-Star break, challenging whether the earth is really round. He speculated that the earth may be flat, drawing headlines and jeers from social media. He said he had no idea his speculation would cause so much debate and reaction.
“Hopefully after this I’m done answering this,” he said. “At the time I was huge into conspiracies, everybody’s been there, saying ‘Yo, what’s going on with our world?’ At the time it was innocent but you realize the effect of your powerful voice. And even if you believe in that, even if I don’t come out and say that stuff, it’s for intimate conversations because perception and how you are perceived changes.
“At the time I just didn’t realize the effect and at the time I was a big conspiracy theorist and you can’t tell me anything.
“I’m sorry for all the science teachers and everybody telling me ‘I have to reteach my whole curriculum.’ I apologize.”
On the Celtics this season: “This is probably one of the few times I’ve been happy playing basketball and being in Boston has made it a lot easier, having a great environment, great organization so it’s been awesome.”
Happiness has been the main theme of Irving’s sentiments since he has returned from two knee procedures that cost him the 2018 postseason. Irving has acknowledged last season was difficult because of the nagging left knee and the constant questions as to why he wanted out of Cleveland. He demanded a trade after the 2017 playoffs after hearing the team was contemplating trading him to Phoenix.
For the first time since helping the Cavaliers win the title two years ago, Irving, who hit the winning shot in Game 7, explained his mind-set.
“It felt great,” he said matter-of-factly of the shot. “It felt good. Obviously being one of the historic teams to come back from 3-1 in the finals and that was pretty special, but after the game I was like, ‘what’s next?’ Like this was cool, this was nice but I didn’t even realize how big that shot was because it’s in my DNA to get riled up but at the end of the day I just wanted to hug my dad, hug my sister and I was just ready to move on.
“It was a weird point in my life at that point, so it was like emotionally I wasn’t as invested as I should have been to enjoy it at the magnitude of it. But it was pretty cool.”
When asked what happened when he got traded to the Celtics, Irving said: “I had to pick my [expletive] up and move,” much to the delight of the crowd.
Irving expounded on his feelings after the trade to Boston.
“I had to deal with a lot of the companies [endorsers] that I was dealing with and communicating that with them because it was about my career but it was about me as a person, moving on to that phase of my life. Most of that came with a lot of distractions outside and figuring out how does that work with allowing my brand to grow.
“Coming to Boston, I was thinking of all the teams that were looking to trade [for] me, Boston just swooped in as Danny Ainge does, he just swooped in and it’s like ‘No, we got you.’ And I just started thinking about it and I was just so grateful because my dad went to school at BU, my mom and dad met at BU, I had been at BU for Elite camps but I had no idea I’d come to Boston but when I had the opportunity.”
Irving continued his adulation of Boston.
“Man, we’re talking about a real sports city, which I got hit in the head for from Cleveland [for calling Boston ‘a real sports city’ to the Undefeated],” he said. “We all know what a real sports city is. They call it Titletown for a reason. And I was just elated to be here. That was a big move and I’m glad I have a year in now in Boston and I’m ready to continue here.”
And finally, Irving touched on his impending free agency this summer.
“To be in a position to even be considered a franchise free agent is pretty awesome,” he said. “At this point in my career, it’s not so much about the money, it’s not so much about the extra curricular things, it’s like OK, where am I happy? Where am I most comfortable? Who’s going to give me that [atmosphere] where I would love to grow as a human being? I spent more time with my teammates than I do with my family and you want to be in a place where thinking about starting over again, obviously that’s what the thing you think about.
“You think, ‘what about a new location?’ and it’s just like I want to be comfortable and what’s better than being in Boston? This year has felt much different because of the environment that has been created for me and by me and going to the new practice facility. There’s nothing like playing at TD Garden.
“I didn’t say that to appease you guys. I actually love Boston.”
Gary Washburn can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GwashburnGlobe.