Irving was the repeated target of angry Boston fans during the Brooklyn Nets’ last-second 115-114 loss to the Celtics in Game 1 of their opening-round playoff series — and he wasn’t afraid to hit back. He was even seen flipping fans off multiple times during the game.
The league will undoubtedly fine Irving for that in the coming days.
Irving’s history with Boston runs deep, and it’s easy to see why the two sides aren’t getting along already in this series. Irving told Celtics fans in 2018 that he planned on re-signing with them, and then walked that back and later signed with the Nets.
Irving dropped a game-high 39 points in the loss and shot 6-of-10 from behind the arc. Naturally, he was asked about his interactions with Celtics fans in the game — who broke out several chants directed at him.
That, he said, was to be expected. But at this point, especially now in the postseason, he said he isn’t just going to roll over and take it.
“It’s nothing new when I come into this building what it’s going to be like, but it’s the same energy that they have for me,” Irving said. “I’m going to have the same energy for them. It’s not every fan, I don’t want to attack every fan, every Boston fan.
“But when people start yelling ‘p****’ and ‘b****’ and ‘f*** you’ and all this stuff, there’s only so much you can take as a competitor. We’re the ones expected to be docile and be humble and take a humble approach. No, f*** that. It’s the playoffs, this is what it is. I know what to expect in here, and I’m giving the same energy back to them.”
Based on how Game 1 went, and his comments, it’s hard to imagine Celtics fans tone that down for Game 2 on Tuesday night.
Irving isn’t backing down either. Usually, he said, it’s all just noise anyway.
“If somebody’s going to call me out on my name, I’m going to look at them straight in the eye and see if they’re really ’bout it,” Irving said. “Most of the time they’re not.”
As for his gestures to fans, Irving insisted that there was no hostility involved with it. Instead, he said, “it’s basketball.”
“It’s not hostility, bro,” Irving said. “Embrace it. It’s the dark side, embrace it.”