Jayson Tatum, Kyrie Irving reflect on their seasons together in Boston: ‘Great memories’

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Even though Kyrie Irving’s time defending the Boston jersey wasn’t the most memorable, especially as he led a team that underachieved during that 2018/19 campaign, there were also some positive notes on his short tenure with the Celtics

One who remembers those days fondly is Jayson Tatum, who was playing his first seasons in the NBA alongside the veteran guard, and even admitted to learning many valuables lessons from his old teammates.

Now that they are both preparing to face each other in the upcoming NBA Finals, they’ve both been asked by the press about their rivalry, just as well as their friendship. Unfortunately, Irving left that summer in free agency, but both have kept contact ever since.

“Obviously, there were some ups and downs. But I think, for me, being a first, second-year player, being around a superstar, essentially, every day and seeing how to navigate that space,” Tatum expressed. “And then obviously on the court, he’s one of the most talented guys I’ve ever seen. So it seems like a very long time ago but I’ve got a lot of great memories from having Kai as a teammate.”

When the current Celtics star thinks about that disappointing campaign with Kyrie, he played the blame on the entire team. “Just learning that being on such a talented team, that it’s not just talent that’s going to take you over the top,” he said. “You have to have guys that are willing to sacrifice, guys that are willing to do the other things for the team to have a chance. It wasn’t a Kyrie thing, it was all of us.

“We all took part in why that season wasn’t a success and we all learned from it. We all moved on. Some of us stayed here, other guys left and have done great things since that season. So I just look at that as a learning experience from my second year.”

Now Jayson can’t help but admit that Irving found his best version in a Mavs shirt. “It does seem like Dallas, obviously, has been a great fit,” the star said. “They’re in the NBA Finals. The staff and the team, they all just kind of jelled together and it’s great. It’s great to see Kai out there playing at an extremely high level, doing all the special things that we love to see him do, and have fun doing it.”

Kyrie also shares good memories in Boston but insists that it ‘wasn’t a good reflection’ of who he really was

As Irving has finally found his best rhythm in Dallas, and signed a three-year deal to stay there, he knows for sure that he wasn’t his best version back when he represented the Boston franchise.

“But I will say last time in Boston, I don’t think that was the best — not this regular season, but when we played in the playoffs and everyone saw me flip off the birds and kind of lose my s— a little bit — that wasn’t a great reflection of who I am and how I like to compete on a high level,” he said this week ahead of the NBA Finals.

He then added: “It wasn’t a great reflection on my end towards the next generation on what it means to control your emotions in that type of environment, no matter what people are yelling at you.”

Kyrie has already faced the Celtics two times in the playoffs, first eliminating them in a five-game series in 2021, only to get swept entirely in the following season’s first round, which was his last game in a Brooklyn uniform.