The Boston Celtics took game one of their first-round matchups against the Brooklyn Nets on a buzzer beating layup by Jason Tatum. The battle between Kyrie Irving and the Celtics fans could have gotten lost in such a great game.
After hitting a difficult shot over Jaylen Brown late in the third quarter, Irving can be seen flipping the middle finger to fans in the crowd.
After the game, Irving talked about how he felt about the Celtics Fans and how they showed a lack of respect for him and the game of basketball.
“Look, where I’m from, I’m used to all these antics and people being close nearby,” Irving said after scoring a team-high 39 points in 42 minutes. “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.
“And it’s not every fan, I don’t want to attack every fan, every Boston fan. 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.”
For decades, Boston has been a tough place to play for African American players. Irving was a Celtic for two seasons, and during that time, it was all love. After signing with the Nets two years ago, the disconnect and animosity started to occur.
“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.
“So if somebody’s going to call me out on my name, I’m gonna look at them straight in the eye and see if they really ’bout it. Most of the time they’re not.”
Irving put up amazing numbers despite the drama and appears to be willing to be the villain in Boston. Game 2 is set on Wednesday night, right back in Boston.