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Is Kyrie Irving following Kobe’s advice by creating tension?

Kyrie Irving may be following advice passed on to him by Kobe Bryant in light of how he’s been conducting himself this season with the Boston Celtics.

Irving has been brutally honest at points with his younger teammates, even publicly criticizing them, and the case can be made that the superstar point guard has been at times a disruptive presence in the Celtics’ locker room.

Could Irving’s antics be premeditated and part of an orchestrated gambit to create tension with the goal to inspire and motivate the team? That may be the case.

According to The Athletic’s Joe Vardon, Bryant once relayed advice to Irving that in order for teams to be successful, leaders sometimes have to conduct themselves in such a manner.

Bryant’s message to Irving was, basically, that great teams need a player who actually causes conflict inside the locker room, on purpose. That great teams need someone who makes his teammates uncomfortable when things might otherwise be easy and quiet.

Irving’s teammates were asked if such an approach out of the superstar was a possibility. Terry Rozier believes it could be.

“I mean, he loves Kobe, Kobe said that, he agreed — it kind of does make sense,” Rozier said. “If (Irving and Bryant) agreed on that, that’s something that you can really look at, but I don’t know if he really wakes up every morning telling himself that he wants to cause conflict or cause problems.”

While calling out teammates certainly was in Bryant’s playbook, some of the things Irving has done this season are unlikely to have a hidden, but positive impact upon his teammates.

After publicly stating ahead of the season that he had every intention of re-signing with the Celtics, Irving backtracked last week, saying, “Ask me July 1,” although he also indicated Boston remains “at the head of the race.”

While the Celtics reportedly remain “cautiously optimistic” about re-signing Irving, it will be interesting to see how the season plays out, and if the superstar continues to emulate Kobe with his locker-room antics.