Kyrie Irving has now been in Brooklyn longer than he was in Boston. That doesn’t tell the whole story.
Celtic fans think he robbed them, then literally rubbed it in when he (gasp!) stomped on the Lucky logo at TD Garden center court. One of them threw a water bottle at Irving’s head. And oh yeah, he noted the racist tinge to it all. The rivalry now moves on its next stage, the Eastern Conference match-up Sunday in Boston.
In talking to the media Friday, Irving said he’d like to put it all past him, focus on the game. But there was also a concession that that is unlikely.
“I don’t want to focus on anything other than what’s going on with our team, don’t want to focus on the fans, don’t want to focus on any extra stuff outside of my control. The environment is going to be the environment,” Irving said.
“[We’ve seen] guys go to different arenas, and no matter how many times you play there, the fans are going to treat them like whatever. Whether they played there, whether they injured a player, whether something went back-and-forth with the crowd. … So giving the energy to what the fans are doing, that’s not where my attention is.”
But Irving conceded there’s a lot of baggage, but at the other end of the scale, there is an undeniable connection. His parents met as student-athletes at Boston University.
“I’ve been at Boston University since I was like 5 years old,” Irving said. “They were the first school to offer me a scholarship. So it’s there for me in terms of my childhood. … But me as a professional athlete, this moment in time, let’s bury the hatchet.”
No. Irving has been cast as the villain in the piece. Boston talk radio can be divided evenly between love of the Sox and a lack of fondness for Irving. Does it bother him?
“All’s fair in competitions. When emotions are running high, anything can happen,” Irving told reporters. “I just want to go in there with a poise and a composure and not pay attention to any of the extra noise. … I’m just going to let the actions speak for themselves and go out and have fun and play competitive basketball.
“I don’t have time, the focus to pay attention to all that going on with all the narratives that surrounded me in Boston. … People continue to ask the Celtics players ‘Have you still talked to Ky?’ I’m like bro, just let it go. I’ve moved on, I’m in Brooklyn. It’s been three years. We’ve had enough of the back-and-forth. … The fans can’t come on the court, [media] can’t come on the court, so just enjoy the show and get your popcorn. Say whatever you have to on Twitter and social media and let’s just make this a good series.”
He added, “I just hope we can move past kind of my Boston era, and just reflect on some of the highlights I left at TD Garden that they can replay. And just move forward. New paradigm, baby.”
In the lengthy media session, Irving spoke as well about his vaccine refusal and the criticism, some of it anonymous, of his stand.
“It’s hard to address all those people because they’re usually blocking their profile image, or they don’t come out in public and say it to your face,” Irving said. “I don’t know who they are. All I know is I get things on my Twitter feed and social media, and I get asked about it. But in response to that, I can’t really address everybody.
“I can really that say I stood firm on what I believed in, what I wanted to do with my body. That should be not just an American right, that should be a human right. And when you stand for something like that, in a society that we’re in where we have a lot more followers than we do leaders, you’re going to be forced into being seen as a black sheep that people can attack and can clickbait your name and say these things that don’t really describe who you are.
“So I can’t address everybody, but as we move forward in time, I know that I made the right decision for me.”
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