BOSTON (CBS) — Before Game 1 of the much anticipated Celtics-Nets playoff series, Kyrie Irving seemed like he wanted to bury the hatchet with Boston fans. He was hoping to wipe the slate clean after a rocky history with Celtics fans.
So much for all of that. It all went completely out the window during Sunday’s Game 1 at TD Garden.READ MORE: Celtics-Heat Eastern Conference Finals preview: Two tough defenses against two balanced attacks
Irving was serenaded with boos when he was introduced and heard them anytime he touched the ball. That isn’t anything new, not since Irving became public enemy No. 1 in Boston after he quit on the team during a playoff series and unceremoniously left the Celtics for Brooklyn three years ago.
But Irving had enough of the jeering in the second half on Sunday. When he got real hot in the third quarter and drained a ridiculous long two with Jaylen Brown in his face, Irving threw out a one-finger salute to those in the crowd.
Avert your eyes, youngsters:
Kyrie Irving gives middle finger to Celtics crowd 👀 pic.twitter.com/WxKGVwvw0r
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) April 17, 2022
That was not the only time Irving flipped Boston fans the bird. There was one instance where he threw double freedom rockets behind his head.READ MORE: Celtics-Heat Eastern Conference Finals Schedule
He was even more animated — and vulgar — with Celtics fans when making his way to the Brooklyn locker room following Boston’s win at the buzzer. Irving shouted the same phrase that he once yelled to a fan in Philly — in his third game as a member of the Celtics — to a Boston fan as he made his way to the Brooklyn locker room.
When he took the podium Sunday night, Irving said that he was simply giving back what the fans were giving to him.
“Look, where I’m from, I’m used to all these antics and people being close nearby,” Irving said. “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.
“But when people start yelling ‘[expletive]’ or ‘[another expletive]’ and ‘[expletive] you’ and all this stuff, there’s only but so much you take as a competitor,” he added. “We’re the ones expected to be docile and be humble, take a humble approach. [Expletive] that, it’s the playoffs. This is what it is.”
Irving was brilliant on the floor Sunday, leading all scorers with 39 points. There was one stretch where he couldn’t miss, and it brought the Nets back from a double digit deficit. But the game ended with the Celtics making a comeback in the final minute, and Jayson Tatum spun by Irving for the game-winning layup at the buzzer.MORE NEWS: Marcus Smart questionable for Celtics-Heat Game 1 with foot injury
If that wasn’t bad enough for Irving, chances are that he is going to hear from the NBA for both his middle fingers and his hallway remark. And, of course, he’ll hear it even more from Celtics fans come Wednesday night in Game 2.