‘You have to have some major cojones to be there’: Kevin Garnett was not surprised Kyrie Irving left Boston

Garnett criticized Irving's decision to play for the Nets

The Celtics will retire Kevin Garnett's No. 5 next season.
Former Celtic Kevin Garnett commented on Kyrie Irving's decision to leave Boston. –John Tlumacki/Globe Staff(sports)

Was Kevin Garnett surprised that Kyrie Irving left Boston?

“No,” Garnett said to the New York Daily News on Tuesday while promoting his new film, “Uncut Gems”. The movie stars Adam Sandler as a gambling-addicted jewelry dealer that places a wager on Garnett’s 2008 NBA Championship ring and his performance in the playoffs. Garnett, who won that ring with Paul Pierce, says Pierce is a perfect example of what it takes to play in Boston.

“Boston’s a tough town, dawg,” he adds. “You have to have some major cojones to be there. You got to want that. The people want it for you. That’s why Paul (Pierce) is perfect for it. Paul wants the shot every time. Like, ‘You’re 0-for-14.’ And he’s like, ‘I know, but they WANT it.’”


What Irving wanted, in the end, was to be home in Brooklyn. After telling Celtics season ticket holders last season that he planned on re-signing with the team, Irving’s grandfather died in October He admitted during media day this past September that after the loss, things became “rocky” for him as tensions flared in the Celtics locker room. He felt like he had “failed” as a leader and, after the Celtics lost to the Bucks in the Eastern conference semi-finals, he signed a four-year deal with the Nets.

“In my heart I knew I always wanted to play at home,” he said in an Instagram video. “I wouldn’t change anything about this journey. It’s brought me back here and that’s home, and home is where my family is, home is where I want my legacy to continue. And I’m happy to be in Brooklyn.”

Irving, who is out with a shoulder injury and missed both matchups against the Celtics last week, was off to a strong start so far this season. He scored 50 points in his debut with the Nets (which was on the anniversary of his grandfather’s death) and was averaging 28.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 7.2 assists.


Garnett, who played on the Nets for a season and a half, thinks that if Irving really wanted to be the ‘hope’ for the city, he should have gone to the Knicks.

“If they did the Nets, I thought they should have done the Knicks, if I’m being honest,” he said about Irving and Kevin Durant. “I’m not a Knick fan by far. But if they come to the city and dominate, man…The first superstar to hit New York and be vibing is going to be bigger than life. Remember I said that. Any piece of hope in this city is going to skyrocket. People are waiting.”