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Kyrie Irving versus The State of Massachusetts

Updated: Apr 27, 2022

Bad Men, Bad Takes – Season 1

Come one, come all!

Now showing at multiple venues across the North East of the United States of America, Kyrie Irving versus The State of Massachusetts! Secure your ticket today!

The Celtics and Nets match-up in the Playoffs is one of the best pieces of theatre the League has seen in a long time.

It has all of the hall marks of one of the great radio dramas of yesteryear. Sure, it’s only the first round, but like the great radio dramas of the past, the Celtics and Nets are can’t miss theatre thus far this post-season.

Basketball as a sport also lends itself rather easily to a comparison of the great productions of yesteryear.

The cliff-hanger endings at the end of each quarter, or even the end of each game within a series, leaving the audience wondering what the next chapter holds. Enticing them and pulling them back to see how the next instalment unfolds.

The use of sound and silence at the free throw line by the crowd – chanting loudly in an attempt to distract the opposition player while remaining silent with a combination of nerves and respect for their own players in the same situation.

A clever use of narration and speech – whether it by the play-by-play or colour commentator for those watching from home, or the in arena announcer. Moments of punctuation that allow the audience insight into the events unfolding before them. Using language to clearly indicate who the ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ are.

There are more than enough conventions of those classics from the past, but what makes this production more compelling than most are the things that make it unique among its cast and setting.

First time NBA Head Coach Ime Udoka and underdog Payton Pritchard form part of a loveable cast of characters for the Cetlics. Credit: The Boston Globe

There’s a protagonist: The Boston Celtics. A team who, despite managing to secure the second seed this season, faced more than their fair share of adversity. A new Head Coach in the off-season who struggled to find his feet and implement his philosophy in his first go in the position at the top level. A dynamic duo in Brown and Tatum who struggled to find consistency early in the season through injury and a lack of continuity, en route to a record which placed them well on the outside of the Playoff picture after the first third of the season. The challenges of an impending trade deadline and the pressure to get their moves right, before needing to again adjust on the fly and integrate their new pieces.

Within the protagonist role, there is a cast of loveable characters. The wise veteran Al Horford, who despite physical limitations due to his age, leads by example and provides a calming influence when needed. The scrappy Marcus Smart, who gives all of his heart and soul on every possession to try and make his teammates better. The relatable Payton Pritchard, who despite looking like a punchline as the diminutive and un-athletic late-round pick, provides a vehicle for the working class folk of Massachusetts to attach themselves to and route for because, in their mind, he is one of them.

There’s the story-line: A David v Goliath battle. A team of players representing the hopes of their people in a struggle as underdogs against the more fancied, and more experienced, opposition. Sure, the Celtics have been historically successful, but as little as five weeks ago, myself and the rest of the podcast were in agreeance that the Celtics could not win the Championship – writing them off before they even had the opportunity to put their case properly forward under the heat of the Playoffs. After stealing Game 1 with a buzzer beating lay-up on a broken play, the Celtics claimed Game 2 and are now believing that they can take down Goliath in this battle – after all, they are half way to accomplishing such a feat.

And then there’s the villain – in this case, Kyrie Irving. The Nets guard has always walked to the beat of his own drum, as seen by his decision to refuse Covid-19 vaccinations on the eve of the season, despite knowing he would be ineligible to play in home games because of this. Kyrie seemed unfazed by the thought of letting his team down, something Celtics fans perceive him as being all too comfortable with given their recent experience with him in their own locker room.

Kyrie Irving (left) is the lead villain in this production, and is ably supported by a player who has relished playing the villain in the past in Kevin Durant (right). Credit: NY Daily News

The comments and obscene gestures he displayed towards the crowd and state of Massachusetts at large in Game 1 show there is no love lost, and that Kyrie is the best kind of villain a script writer could ask for: One who knows his role in the greater scheme of the overall production, and plays up to it whenever possible.

Adding to the villain role of the Nets is Kevin Durant, whose deference from Oklahoma City to a then 73-9 Warriors team during the summer of 2015 has seen him tarred with the same brush by many the league over. While a secondary character behind Irving in this case, Durant has enough magnetism and personality to carry the villain’s weight on his own, so his addition to the drama and struggle of this production is a bonus.

Both Durant and Irving have climbed the mountain the Celtics are attempting to scale this season, adding fuel to a fire of hatred Bostonians feel towards the pair already. Their combination of talent and willingness to lean into the role of villain further develops emotional attachment the viewer has towards the scrappy, underdog Celtics and their loveable gang of characters.

Like the great radio dramas of the past, all of the pieces are in place for the protagonist to rise to the occasion and beat the odds. After which, they advance to their next challenge, taking all of the teachings from their experience with them.

It’s uncertain how the rest of the script plays out, but after two games, there is no doubt that Kyrie Irving versus The State of Massachusetts is the can’t miss hit of the Post-Season.  

So, what do you think? Did I get it right? Did I mess it up? Let me know on twitter (@BMBTPodcast) or send us an email at!

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