Kyrie Irving shared how the death of his grandfather affected him last season.

By Jenna West
September 27, 2019

During the Nets' media day on Friday, Kyrie Irving opened up about his struggles last season with the Celtics and what he's looking forward in Brooklyn this year.

Despite saying early last season how he intended to re-sign with Boston, Irving ended up going to Brooklyn this summer as a free agent. On Friday, he shared how the death of his grandfather in late October affected him during the 2018-19 season and changed his feelings toward the game.

"Basketball and the joy I had from it was sucked away from me," Irving said, per ESPN. "There was a facial expression that I carried around with me throughout the year. Didn't allow anyone to get close to me in that instance, and it really bothered me. I didn't take the necessary steps to get counseling or get therapy to deal with somebody that close to me dying. I've never dealt with anything like that."

Irving seemed distant from his teammates last year and had a rough parting with the team when he left Boston. While looking back on what happened, he admitted on Friday that he "failed those guys."

"A lot of the battles I thought I could battle through in the [Boston] team environment, I just wasn't ready for," Irving said. "And I failed those guys, in the sense that I didn't give them everything I could have during that season. ...In terms of me being a leader in that environment and bringing everyone together, I failed."

Irving also discussed being a leader with the Nets and how he reached out to the team early in free agency to express his interest in signing with them. The Nets signed him to a four-year, $141 million contract this summer, and he helped bring his friend and fellow free agent Kevin Durant to Brooklyn as well.

Durant will miss the entire 2019-20 season after rupturing his Achilles in Game 5 of the NBA Finals in June with the Warriors. Irving said the team will be patient and not expect Durant to return before he's "101% healthy."

"We all know [Durant] was not ready to play in that environment," he said. "He was out 31 days and we put him on a national stage in the Finals to end up selling a product that came before the person Kevin. And now I'm here to protect that."

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