Tierney: Kyrie Irving Is "Enigmatic," A "Culture Killer"

If not for LeBron James, Irving would be viewed as a losing player, Brandon Tierney says

Tiki and Tierney
March 09, 2020 - 6:44 pm

The Brooklyn Nets (29-34) parted ways with head coach Kenny Atkinson on Saturday, and Kyrie Irving may have had something to do with it

Irving reportedly didn’t connect with Atkinson, and the relationship soured. That, however, may say more about the player than the head coach.

“Kyrie Irving, to me, I can’t use the bust word because the stats are there,” Brandon Tierney said on Tiki & Tierney. “Listen to me clearly, everybody, I mean this: if not for LeBron James, Kyrie Irving would be perceived strongly as a losing player. A losing player.”

Yes, Irving helped the Cavs to four straight NBA Finals. Yes, he hit the title-winning three-pointer in 2016. But he also underachieved in Boston, and the Nets went 8-12 with him in the lineup this season.

“[Irving is a] losing player who poisoned Boston – poisoned Boston,” Tierney said. “[The Cavs] were going nowhere before LeBron came back. [Irving] had them on the road to the 8-seed. They were bad with him when they got him; they were bad when he was there before LeBron came back. So what has he really done without LeBron? Nothing. The Nets are worse with him.”

Tiki Barber, however, doesn’t put it all on Irving, who he considers a supremely talented player. In fact, Barber believes the coaching staff is more responsible for the Nets’ poor play in recent months.

“They’re discombobulated. They can’t function correctly,” Barber said. “That’s why when Kenny Atkinson was asked about this, at least according to the reports, he was like, ‘I think maybe these guys aren’t listening to me.’ Because he can’t coach them. He can’t get them to execute the simple things correctly. Who is that on? It’s not on Kyrie, because he’s not playing. . . . Ultimately when you can’t function like that, it’s on the coach.”

Atkinson, who went 118-190 in four seasons with the Nets, likely deserves criticism. Irving, though, has been the common denominator for a lot of underachieving teams.

“Kyrie Irving is a culture killer,” Tierney said. “He’s an enigma. He’s got an enigmatic personality. The guy, he’s either acutely unaware or he’s incredibly selfish and tone-deaf – or maybe a little bit of everything.”