Kyrie and KD together in Brooklyn are one of the most fascinating pairings in the NBA, despite Durant not even playing. Two moody, sensitive superstars under the microscope of New York media, is bound for crazy stories. It took three games for the first one to come out.
Before we get into the story, let's point something out. Jackie MacMullan is one of the most respected journalists in sports. She covered Bird and Magic, wrote a book with them, and then helped Shaq write his own book. We're talking about a person with a distinguished career, not some random blog.
MacMullan covered Kyrie in Boston for the past few years, so she knows what to look for and who to talk to. Kyrie basically imploded Boston's season with his weird public outbursts and his usual meta-nonsense. Here's what MacMullan reported about Kyrie (via ESPN):
"Yet Irving's infamous mood swings, confirmed by his ex-teammates, which followed him from Cleveland to Boston to Brooklyn, are the unspoken concern that makes Nets officials queasy. When Irving lapses into these funks, he often shuts down, unwilling to communicate with the coaching staff, front office and, sometimes, even his teammates. Nets team sources say one such episode occurred during Brooklyn's trip to China, leaving everyone scratching their heads as to what precipitated it. There's hope that Durant will be able to coax his friend into a better frame of mind. But when presented with that scenario, KD says he will be hands off."
This fits with everything we've known and seen from Kyrie throughout his career. But, a lot of great players keep telling us you don't need to be friends to work as a team. Jordan and Pippen had almost no relationship with Rodman on the court. Shaq and Kobe had a strained relationship but dominated on the court. Is this something the Nets should be worried about, as long as Kyrie shows up and plays to his standard? Here are two other Hall of Famers saying, "Yes, they should!"
The main question is, will it bother his teammates. If the players are cool with it and don't hold it against Kyrie, then it will be OK. The problem is, Kyrie's history shows us people are cool with it as long as you don't try to preach and boss around. Once you start to criticize and ask people to change, then you can't afford to act like this. Especially if you want to be the leader.