Then, Kyrie Irving got his turn.
After the Nets loss to the Celtics Wednesday, a game filled with “Kyrie Sucks” chants and signs calling him a “coward” for not playing plastered around TD Center, not to mention stories purporting to give new perspectives on last season, Irving posted a response on Instagram, one that will certainly be debated not just in the days ahead, but for a long time. Irving suggested that basketball is a game ... thus less than life, or as he put it at the end of his post, LIFE.
Here’s the full take...
“It happens all the time and Tonight just shows how Sports/Entertainment will always be ignorant and obtrusive,” Irving wrote. “It’s one big SHOW that means very little in the real world.
“It’s about doing it for the fans and organization that love you so much? Think again, it’s a GAME, and it’s promoted as a Fandom experience for ticket buyers and viewers at home, while defacing who people truly are as PEOPLE,” Irving added.
“It’s one big SHOW that means Very VERY little in the real world that most people live in because there are Actually things that matter going on within it.”
Within the message, Irving also wrote, “Butttt, This Game of Sports entertainment matter more than someone’s mental health and well being right? Or the real life things that happen to people everyday but they still have to Perform for the NBA and its fans? RIGHT?”
”This GAME isn’t meant to be controlled and shown as a Drama, it’s meant to show the LOVE,” Irving concluded. “Lover for the Art is the Only damn thing that keeps the purist people in this Giant Sports/Entertainment Circus. Don’t’ fall for the Game that’s played in front of you as Entertainment, it’ll never be as serious dealing with LIFE.”
Irving wasn’t in Boston for the game, preferring to take treatment for his shoulder impingement and spend time with his family.
The Instagram message echoed a lot of what Irving said back in September at Nets Media Day, about how highly personal issues like the death of a loved one —his grandfather— and the desire to be closer to his family had colored so much of what had happened last season in Beantown ... and his decision to sign with Brooklyn.
This time, however, Irving offered not a smiling explanation, but a scathing rebuttal to Boston’s notoriously fickle and often abusive fan base.
Kevin Durant responded to one Boston fan who described the Instagram story as “BIG MAD.”
You’re obsessed. Seek help king— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) November 28, 2019
In the days and hours before Wednesday’s game, Danny Ainge, Brad Stevens and a couple of his teammates had sought to absolve Irving of fault in Boston’s disappointing season.
“That’s one of the things that, unfortunately, when you’re really, really good at something, the level of scrutiny is even higher,” Stevens said. “He’s one of the best players in the NBA. The level of scrutiny is unfair, but it comes with the territory of all those guys. That’s why it’s so important that we constantly remind ourselves of how good they are.
“The way people talked about his time here … he was second team all-NBA last year. He was ridiculous the year before. He’s a heck of a player. He gets to choose where he wants to play, he gets to go home. That’s something we all respect. We wish him nothing but health and happiness. This is the world we live in. I don’t particularly like it … but we’ve got to react to something, and unfortunately we’re very reactionary.”
After the game, Jaylen Brown also spoke out about the fans booing.
”I think the media has made it much bigger than what it actually is and things like that, and it’s almost makes it like you’re opposed, like in turns, one against one another, right?” Brown said. “I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I think that everything worked out for the better for everybody, so I don’t think anybody in Boston should have anything to complain or boo about, to be honest.”
Perhaps the most brutal assessment of Irving, in fact, came from the media, specifically Jay King of The Athletic who recounted stories of Irving’s moodiness or as King wrote, his “dark” moods. While King caveated his story by saying Irving wasn’t the only one at fault, he noted that “his mood grew dark enough at times behind the scenes to impact several layers of the organization.”
The Nets will make a determination in the next 24 to 48 hours on Irving’s availability for the Nets-Celtics game Friday at Barclays Center.
- Kyrie Irving blasts Celtics hate with Instagram manifesto - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Nets’ Kyrie Irving fires back against Celtics fans’ criticism, calling it ‘ignorant and obtrusive’ - Alex Smith - SNY
- Kyrie Irving hits back at critics on Instagram after questions about his injury and boos from Celtics fans in Boston - Adrian Covert - New York Daily News
- Absent Kyrie Irving taunted in Boston, then speaks out on social media - Malika Andrews - ESPN
- After Celtics beat Nets, Kyrie Irving takes to social media to answer critics - Christopher Price - Boston Globe
- Kyrie Irving responds to boos with an Instagram rant - Mark Murphy - Boston Herald