Was Ainge Praising Celtics Rookies or Throwing Shade at Kyrie?

Praise for the newest members of the Boston Celtics family or shade thrown the way of (likely ex-Celtic) Kyrie Irving? 

With Danny Ainge, the Celtics' president of basketball operations, you never really know which bucket his most recent comments fall in. 

"I think it just makes life more enjoyable when everybody is humble, hard-working and will play any role they have to to help the team succeed, " Ainge said. "You do have to have a certain amount of talent to win as we all know, but good people makes coming to work more fun."

It was telling that among the first comments made by Celtics draft pick Grant Williams, was wanting to do whatever was needed in order to bring another banner to Boston. 

And as you listened to the rest of the rookies introduced to the media on Monday, it was pretty clear that there was an undeniable "team-before-me" theme running throughout. 

But was that them being themselves, or were those talking points that they had heard a time or two from the Celtics in their short time with the team? 

Probably a little bit of both. 

Not only is it likely to be a theme we hear more of this year, but you can bet Celtics brass are pushing it harder than usual because they are coming off a season in which individual agendas and egos came before the team in the way a number of players handled themselves and just as important, the roles they were cast to play last season.

Nowhere was this more problematic than with Irving, who was treated like the leader of the team. And like so many of his teammates, he didn't do nearly as good a job as the team needed him to do in that role. 

That led to both individual and team struggles, the kind this group were never able to bounce back from. 

The end result was a season of unfulfillment, one ending in the second round of the playoffs. 

And as part of the moving-on process, Ainge and company have to do their part to best ensure we won't see a repeat of last season. 

With Irving likely bound for Brooklyn, his departure is a start. 

But acknowledging what went wrong last year while juxtaposing that with this fresh, eager-to-get-going group, is another step in this franchise re-establishing an identity that has more to do with being selfless than selfish. And so, while some may view Ainge's comments as a barb towards Irving, it was really more of a dig at that entire team from last year. 

Because the comments made by Ainge - while many could be applicable to Irving - there were other Celtics whose play on the floor and actions behind the scenes, were also contributing factors to what was an underwhelming season here in Boston. 

Ainge's comments more than anything else, serve as a reminder of what this team should be about, win or lose. 

They lost sight of those values last season, blinded by the hype and hoopla of what being a bona fide title contender - on paper at least - was about. 

It appears they have a better sense of who they need to be going forward; a franchise that has to remain hard-working and humble, guys who want to help the next man more than wanting to be the man. That has been at the crux of what this team has maintained for years as a central part of their foundation. 

Last year, they clearly lost their way only to what appears to be, them beginning the journey to get back to being that team. 


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