The Miami Heat avoided humiliation Monday with a Game 7 win over the Boston Celtics to avoid choking away a 3-0 series lead, and the game was enough of a blowout that the team showed some swagger again.
The most notable moment in that respect came from 3-point specialist Duncan Robinson, who worked his way through the Boston defense for a lay-up in the fourth quarter to push the Heat lead to 94-73 with six minutes left. As the Celtics called timeout and his team ran down the floor, Robinson hit a silent TD Garden with a hand to the ear.
The message: "I can't hear you," a la Hulk Hogan.
Duncan Robinson bucket and celebration; Celtics; Heat; Game 7 pic.twitter.com/FbJxG2nhrX
— Oh no he didn't (@ohnohedidnt24) May 30, 2023
That lay-up was part of a 10-point night for Robinson, who is among the Heat's vaunted stable of unheralded prospects turned playoff-ready rotation players.
The taunt quickly went viral as the final nail in the coffin for the Celtics' season, enough so that Robinson later went onto the "Old Man & the Three" podcast with JJ Redick and Tommy Alter to discuss it.
There, Robinson revealed there was a backstory to his taunt. The New Hampshire native had apparently been randomly added to a group chat of Celtics fans, who ripped into him after the Heat's heartbreaking Game 6 loss to force the Game 7. The loss was especially painful for Robinson, who missed a pair of 3-pointers in the final minutes that could have saved the game.
The 29-year-old Robinson responded by planning some revenge.
Here's how he explained it:
"I don't know how this happened — maybe somebody that I went to high school with or something, because I still have the same number from when I was in high school — my number got put in a group chat somewhere, and it was a massive group chat. After we lose Game 6, my phone is blowing up from all these random New England numbers, like 'Get f***ed,' 'Celts in seven.' They're sending me memes of the Curt Schilling bloody sock and it's just all these random numbers. Like, 70 texts.
"I'm like 'What is going on?' and I'm also pissed because I'm on the heels of this bone-crushing loss where I missed some shots down the stretch I'd like to have back. So I'm in my feels and really worked up about it. I'm like 'Who the f*** gave out my number? How the f*** did this happen?' So then I started thinking, I'm creating all these scenarios in my head. I'm like 'If I get the chance, I'm going to go the Garden and do something, and I didn't know what it was going to be.'"
It is safe to say Robinson got his chance.
The response to Robinson's taunt was largely positive outside of New England — like most bad things that happen to Boston sports teams — but he knew enough people from the area that he heard the backlash too:
"You would be shocked at how many people that really bothered. I heard from a lot of people .... it was very polarized. Some people loved it and then obviously all the people who are bitter back home were like 'That was so unnecessary,' 'classless,' all that stuff."
Regardless, Robinson's only regret seems to be that he didn't have more points when he reached for his ear:
"It would have been nice if it was after my seventh three, but I didn't have the luxury of that being the case. So I was like, 'There's an opportunity, they just called a timeout, place is absolutely silent. I'm gonna just jump on it.' "
Robinson and the Heat are now set to face the Denver Nuggets in the NBA Finals, Miami's sixth trip to the Finals since 2011 (and second since LeBron James left). Game 1 is scheduled for Thursday at 8:30 p.m. ET in Denver (ABC).