BOSTON (CBS) — Celtics fans will defend Danny Ainge no matter what. But the C’s president of basketball ops. is likely on an island when it comes to his feelings toward Kyrie Irving.
Things did not end well for Irving and the Celtics, with the point guard a no-show in Boston’s embarrassing second-round ousting by the Milwaukee Bucks last postseason. Following a tumultuous season where the Celtics vastly underachieved and looked disjointed throughout, stemming from in-fighting and rumors of Irving’s future departure, the point guard said farewell to Boston and signed with the Brooklyn Nets.
Celtics fans weren’t too disappointed to see Irving head elsewhere, and they’ll let him know how they feel next week when Irving returns to Boston for the first time as a member of the Nets (if he shows up, that is). But Ainge doesn’t think Celtics fans should boo Irving when he returns to TD Garden.
“I think that’s a sad commentary,” Ainge told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Thursday. “But I understand it just because I know there’s been a lot of negative attention. I understand all that. I just think it’s a bad conclusion to come to. It’s not really fair.”
Ainge refuses to blame Irving for Boston’s downfall last season, saying the onus should fall on a lot of different people, including himself.
“Kyrie was in a good place, and things were looking good for a year and a half and they went sour,” he said. “He gets blamed for a lot of the sour last year, but it’s much, much bigger than that. I’m grateful that he gave us a chance. It wasn’t his fault that it didn’t work out. It was a lot of people’s fault, including my own.”
Ainge wasn’t sure if Irving would receive a video tribute next week, but said he would be fine if the team chose to show one.
Despite Ainge’s wishes, chances are Celtics fans are going to greet Irving with a healthy smattering of boos early and often when the Nets come to town next week.