Morning Shootaround

Shootaround (Sep. 3): Kyrie Irving sees opportunity to grow with Boston Celtics

NBA.com Staff

This morning’s headlines:

Kyrie is complicated but committed — Not many players would leave a situation where they’re almost certain to reach the NBA Finals every year, but Kyrie Irving is a different guy. Now that he’s in Boston, Irving says he’ll thrive. Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe takes a deeper look at Irving’s long and strange trip to Boston:

Kyrie Irving tried his best Friday to intimate that he appreciated his time with all-time great LeBron James, he enjoyed the growth he experienced under James’s tutelage, he enjoyed the journey to Cleveland’s first pro sports title in 52 years, but it was time to move on.

The relationship between James and Irving has always been complicated.

Irving agreed to a five-year, $94 million deal in July 2014 to be the central figure of the Cavaliers. Soon after, James signed a two-year, $42 million deal to return to Cleveland.

While the duo took the Cavaliers to new heights — three consecutive NBA Finals appearances and a championship — gained All-Star honors, won Olympic gold medals, and was regarded as the best pairing in the league, Irving wanted his own show. He wanted to create his own image outside the shadow of James.

That may be difficult to understand because of the success they achieved together, but Irving tried his best to explain his stance during his introductory news conference at TD Garden.

It wasn’t surprising that he had not talked to James since being traded to the Celtics. Irving made his trade demand because he wanted to be considered a winner without having James’s dominance attached.

Their relationship was always professional and Irving somewhat resented James referring to him as a “little brother” because he felt that stymied his independence.

“My intent was to look back at the amount of ground we covered in the last three-year span, and even before that because we had a prior relationship, and to really realize how special that was and how much growth happened in that amount of time. I’d be telling you guys a lie if I didn’t tell you I learned so much from that guy,” Irving said of James.

“The perfection of the craft comes in a variety of forms, and you watch and you ask a lot of the great players, ‘What does it take to be great?’ I’ve had the unique opportunity to play with one of the greats, and it was awesome . . . When you look back, you’re eternally grateful for the moments that you’ve had and you’ve shared. You’re able to put peace with that journey and start anew.

“This was a very, very challenging decision at first, but after awhile you understand and you have that confidence in yourself to understand the magnitude of what you actually can accomplish and potentially can do with other great people.”

Kelly Oubre knows about hurricanes — When he was a kid in New Orleans, Kelly Oubre’s life was uprooted by the most devastating natural disaster in our lifetime. Hurricane Katrina caused him to move out of his hometown but didn’t steal his budding passion for basketball; he made it to the NBA. In light of the events in Houston, Candace Buckner of the Washington Post brings this inspiring story about the young Wizard:

Nearly 30 of the teachers at Edward Hynes Elementary had lost their homes, so Oubre, at just 9 years old, left behind his house in New Orleans East and escaped with his father for higher ground, eventually making a new life in Houston.

This week, his adopted city is recovering from its own life-altering storm after Hurricane Harvey pummeled South Texas, causing the biggest rainfall ever in the continental United States and displacing thousands of residents. Katrina impacted Oubre’s life significantly.

Twelve years later, Oubre doesn’t remember the address of his childhood home, and he can’t recall the names or faces of his former teachers. Even if he could remember Hynes Elementary, it no longer exists as it once was. But one remnant of the school remains, triggering memories for the basketball player.

While reviewing photos from sites around New Orleans where he grew up in March, Oubre saw the porcelain tiles of Humpty Dumpty — the only physical artifact from his elementary school that survived the storm. The memories came rushing back.

“I used to look at these like every day,” Oubre said. “That’s what I remember from my school the most, just these tiles.

“No matter what’s going on, I’m going to continue to thrive because I’m used to adversity,” Oubre said, tying the nursery rhyme to his life’s story. “I’m used to falling and getting back up and when I get back up — I’m going to get back up stronger.”

Hard to prove tampering incidents — In light of the punishment given to the Lakers by the league for their involvement with Paul George while the star was still property of the Pacers, here’s a question: How difficult is it to police tampering? How can the league “snoop” on every league executive’s conversation with the agent of a player? Usually these matters don’t come to light unless there’s a whistleblower. Dave McMenamin of ESPN takes time to examine the tricky situation:

The NBA levied a precedent-cementing $500,000 fine on the Los Angeles Lakers organization Thursday for violating the league’s notoriously nebulous anti-tampering rule.

The fine came after the league warned the Lakers about team president Magic Johnson’s appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” in April during which he joked that he planned to deliver a sort of come-play-for-us, wink-wink to Paul George, then a member of the Indiana Pacers, should Johnson run into him in Los Angeles in the summertime.

The league’s investigation found that Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and George’s agent, Aaron Mintz, had discussions in which George’s name came up and Pelinka offered a “prohibited expression of interest” to Mintz.

The finding comes off a little like a state trooper pulling over a single car for speeding when the flow of traffic is all pushing 80, or the NCAA targeting a specific program for a probe while infractions run rampant among all its competitors in the conference in which it plays. That is to say, if there is a rule in place that can’t be universally enforced, those who do get caught for breaking it end up as almost sympathetic characters in a way.

One Western Conference executive reached for comment Thursday night told ESPN that the league was “at least trying to get serious” about tampering, but added that the proper penalty for what the Lakers did should be $1 million or the loss of a second-round pick at the least to serve as a “true deterrent” to keep other teams from doing the same. Another Eastern Conference GM suggested some sort of suspension system be put in place.

Pelinka, in a statement, said, “We respect and accept the NBA’s decision regarding this matter.” It’s not like he could feign ignorance about the rule. A Western Conference coach told ESPN that “we are constantly bombarded with the rules about tampering from the league office.”

Yet, others aim at the rule itself before blaming Pelinka.

Some Other Headlines: Good on James Harden for giving $1 million to the relief efforts from Hurricane Harvey; the Rockets star stepped up much like another Houston athlete, JJ Watt of the Texans … After losing Gordon Hayward, maybe the Jazz are getting skittish, because according to one report they’ve already opened up contract extension talks with Rodney Hood … It looks like former Wizards coach Eddie Jordan is joining the staff in CharlotteSame for John Lucas III and the Wolves; he was a favorite of Tom Thibideau as a player … Jalen Rose, Detroit born and raised, believes he knows what’s ailing the Pistons … Derrick Rose insists he has much left in the tank

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