Kyrie Irving hits on knee rehab, season ahead for Celtics and his own future

BOSTON — Kyrie Irving looks different. He has just jogged off the Auerbach Center court after an informal pickup session with his Boston Celtics teammates and his distinctly more chiseled upper body is beaded with sweat.

He’s sporting a headband to keep a fuller noggin of hair at bay, and he’s smiling. A lot.

There’s a simple reason for that: He’s no longer in pain.

Last season, Irving gutted through persistent soreness and irritation caused by hardware from a 2015 surgery to repair a broken kneecap. He was forced to shut it down in March, underwent two additional surgeries, then spent much of his offseason methodically fine-tuning that left knee to the point where he believes he is the healthiest and strongest he’s been in three years.

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