“Look, where I’m from, I’m used to all these antics and people being close nearby,” Irving said after nearly leading a comeback victory Sunday afternoon. “It’s nothing new when I come into this building, what it’s going to be like— but it’s the same energy they have for me, I’m going to have the same energy for them.”
Irving has a well-publicized history of animosity towards Celtics fans, stemming from the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons he spent there as a player. Since leaving, Irving has said that he hopes comments can be kept purely about on-court play and, when in context, subtly implying that Boston fans often spew racist comments, as well as stomping on the Celtics logo during a road game, an action that resulted in a fan throwing a water bottle at him shortly thereafter.
Kyrie Irving responds
Kyrie Irving was spectacular on the court during game one in an opening-round playoff series against the #2 Boston Celtics, scoring 39 points (18 in the fourth quarter) and single-handedly dragging his team back into the contest before ultimately pulling them ahead by three with less than a minute to go.
Boston did ultimately end up winning the game, however, after a spinning layup from Jayson Tatum fell as time expired, giving them a 115-114 victory.
Irving was serenaded with boos and jeers during the game from fans he once promised a long-term deal with. This pledge, made before the start of the 2018-19 season, would be one of “Uncle Drew’s” last happy memories in Boston.
“I don’t want to attack every fan, every Boston fan,” Irving said Sunday. “When people start yelling ‘p—y’ or ‘b—-‘ and ‘f— you’ and all this stuff, there’s only but so much you take as a competitor. We’re the ones expected to be docile and be humble, take a humble approach, f— that, it’s the playoffs. This is what it is.”
Irving had doubled down on “subtle racism” in Boston Garden during the week leading up to game one, once again confirming past statements.
“I know what to expect in here,” Irving said after Sunday’s game. “And it’s the same energy I’m giving back to them. It is what it is. I’m not really focused on it, it’s fun, you know what I’m saying? Where I’m from I’ve dealt with so much, so coming in here you relish it as a competitor. … This isn’t my first time at TD Garden so what you guys saw, what you guys think is entertainment, or the fans think is entertainment, all is fair in competition.”
The story continues…
Kyrie Irving is known as one of the most clutch players in the league— a reputation that he prides himself on.
A reporter asked Brooklyn’s PG if the energy from the crowd brought out the best in him down the stretch, to which he responded eerily.
“Embrace it,” Irving said. “Embrace it. It’s the dark side. Embrace it.”
Nets coach and former two-time MVP in his own right, Steve Nash, spoke about Kyrie’s ability to handle pressurized situations.
“This is a guy that’s made the game-winning shot in the Finals,” said Nash. “He’s played in the Olympics. He’s played in the All-Star Game, All-Star Game MVP. I don’t know that there’s any atmospheres that are really gonna rattle him. … If he has an off night, he has an off night. I don’t think the crowd is a factor for Kyrie. This guy’s done about all you can do in the game.”
Kevin Durant doubled down that the Boston fans are going to do what they want, but that is unlikely to affect his superbly talented teammate.
“We know [Celtics fans are] going to show out and support their team, but we know they’re going to let Kyrie hear it as much as possible,” said Durant. “It’s a part of the sport.”
Irving previously compared resentful Celtics fans to a “scorned girlfriend” and publicly expressed his desire for them to leave the past in the past. However, when asked about the crowd’s antics during game one, he revealed that this may no longer be an option.
“Don’t care at this point,” Irving said. “Let’s get to the series and talk about our possessions and how we can get better. I’m not gonna focus on the past with Boston. I’m on the Brooklyn Nets. I’m happy to be with my teammates and competing out there.”
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