Kyrie Irving spent two years in Boston, starring for the Celtics. He’s spent two years being hated by their fans since leaving.
Now, bringing his Nets back to TD Garden with a 2-0 lead in this first-round series, Irving knows full well what to expect when he gets there.
“It’s not my first time being an opponent in Boston. So, I am just looking forward to competing with my teammates and hopefully, we can just keep it strictly basketball,” Irving said. “There’s no belligerence or racism going on — subtle racism — people yelling s–t from the crowd, but even if it is, it’s part of the nature of the game and we’re just going to focus on what we can control.”
When Irving missed both of last season’s trips to Boston due to his shoulder injury, Celtics fans still put up posters calling him a coward and chanted profane curses about him. His trips this preseason and regular season were played without fans.
TD Garden is expected to be at 25 percent capacity for Friday’s Game 3, but Game 4 will be near capacity.
Asked if he’d experienced racism in Boston before, Irving shrugged, threw his hands in the air and said, “I’m not the only one who can attest to this, but it’s just, you know … it is what it is. The whole world knows it.”
Jeff Green left the game in the second quarter with a bruised left foot and didn’t return. The Nets had no update on his status after the game.
Boston star Jayson Tatum left the game after getting inadvertently poked in the eye by Kevin Durant. Brad Stevens said the forward came back out and tried to test it but the lights were too bright for his eyes.
Tuesday marked the one-year anniversary of George Floyd being murdered by police on a Minneapolis street. It’s still a driving force for social justice and still a topic of discussion in NBA locker rooms, including Brooklyn’s.
“Just wanted to say my condolences to his family, that social justice is a very important issue in our country and our world,” Steve Nash said. “It’s about education, conversation and action. The more people that are talking about it, educating themselves on it and finding a way to get more active is only going to help us have a better country, better society, better community, and have more love for one another.”
Nash has had Floyd’s picture as his Twitter avatar, while Irving bought a house for Floyd’s family.
“It’s always a constant conversation because it’s something that’s being continuously happening in our world,” Green said. “We do everything in our power to make sure it stays in light and we don’t allow it to fade away. … It’s something we try to keep in the public eye that these things still happen. It needs to continue to be talked about, until we find some kind of solution.”
Sportico has the Nets’ Big 3 all among the Top 25 highest-paid athletes in all sports, with Kevin Durant ninth overall.
Saturday’s Game 1 drew 3.8 million viewers, according to Sports Business Journal.