Kyrie Irving Says He Has To ‘Embrace The Dark Side’ Of Boston Fans Heckling Him

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The Boston Celtics beat the Brooklyn Nets in Game 1 of their highly anticipated first round series in a game that will be difficult to top in terms of drama and entertainment.

Jayson Tatum’s buzzer-beating layup was the exclamation point on a game that featured some incredible two-way play by both teams, as well as the Nets embracing their villain role in Boston. At the center of it all is former Celtic Kyrie Irving, who rather famously proclaimed his desire to stay in Boston long-term before bolting for Brooklyn a year later, cementing his status as public enemy No. 1 every time he sets foot in TD Garden. Irving got off to a quiet start on Sunday afternoon but erupted in the second half to finish with a game-high 39 points, catching fire from deep to carry the Nets back from a 15-point third quarter deficit to take the lead late into the fourth quarter.

Along the way, Irving got into it with the Boston crowd on a few occasions, most notably after hitting a long two in the corner late in the third quarter, spinning to the courtside fans and giving them, as Jeff Van Gundy called it on the broadcast, a “salute” with his middle finger. Irving seemed fueled by the unrelenting Boston crowd, basking in their boos after every made shot, and after the game he was unsurprisingly asked about those interactions.

“When people start yelling ‘p*ssy,’ and ‘b*tch’ and ‘f*ck you’ and all this other stuff, there’s only but so much you can take as a competitor, and we’re the ones expected to be docile and be humble and take a humble approach. Nah, f*ck that. It’s the playoffs.”

Irving was pressed further on the fans, and after suggesting the media ask the fans about it all, said he has to “embrace it, it’s the dark side.”

It is an added layer to a series filled with fascinating matchups and storylines, and so long as things stay within a certain realm it makes for great theater. Irving giving it back to fans is fine, as is fans wanting to be on him constantly — provided they don’t cross the line with what they say — and Irving taking the approach of embracing the villain role is for the best, because he’s cast in it whether he wants it or not.


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