Kyrie Irving is healthy, motivated and ready to lead the Boston Celtics to their first NBA championship since 2008.
And one more thing: The oft-injured five-time All-Star who was shut down in March, endured two procedures on his problematic left knee and missed the Celtics’ near run to the NBA Finals is pain-free.
“I’m moving completely differently,” Irving told ESPN on Friday. “I’ve worked on my strength and have a heightened awareness of what my body needs on a day-to-day basis. I spent all summer trying to get my left leg to catch up with my right. And it’s there.”
Irving has been pushing himself hard during the offseason, calling his countless pickup games “next level.” NBA teams officially open training camps on Tuesday, and the Celtics’ first preseason game is Friday against the Hornets in North Carolina.
Kyrie Irving says he has “no pain and is moving completely differently.”
Irving also says he’s ready to compete with no restrictions and that “(Celtics) pickup games are next level. I can’t believe what we’re doing out there. We can’t wait to get started.”
An offseason laser-focused on rehabilitation has Irving confident he will be able to take his game to a higher level in his second season with the Celtics.
“Now when I go to the rim I’m able to maintain my strength and athleticism,” Irving told ESPN. “So when I get under there I have all sorts of options. No limitations. I can pick my spots. It’s a lot better.”
In addition to the return of Irving, star forward Gordon Hayward is back and healthy after his horrific ankle injury suffered in last year’s season opener. The fact that the Celtics made it to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals without their two stars has the team’s hopes high for an even better finish to the upcoming season.
“Can we beat Golden State in a seven-game series? Yes,” Irving told ESPN.