Kyrie Irving's Dad on Celtics Fans Booing: 'They Have a Right to Feel That Way'

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVMay 29, 2021

BOSTON, MA - MAY 28:  Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets handless the ball during Game Three of the Eastern Conference first round series against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on May 28, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Kyrie Irving's father understands why Boston Celtics fans booed the Brooklyn Nets guard during Game 3 of the first-round playoff series between the Celtics and Nets on Friday.

According to Ian O'Connor of the New York Post, Drederick Irving said: "They have a right to feel that way. Kyrie said it, and I'm sure he feels bad about it. ... He just wants to be treated as [a human being]."

Irving's father was referencing something Kyrie said before he departed the Celtics for the Nets in free agency during the 2019 offseason.

During an appearance at an event for Celtics season ticket holders in October 2018, Kyrie said: "I've shared it with some of my teammates as well as the organization as well as everyone else in Boston. If you guys will have me back, I plan on re-signing here next year."

Instead, Irving departed Boston just two years after the Celtics acquired him in a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

That left a bad taste in the mouths of Celtics fans, and it came as little surprise that Irving didn't receive a warm reception Friday at TD Garden.

Kyrie acknowledged going into the game that he didn't expect to be cheered, but added

"I am just looking forward to competing with my teammates and hopefully, we can just keep it strictly basketball; 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."

While Kyrie's return to Boston was a big deal, the biggest story of the game turned out to be the performance of Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, who led all scorers with 50 points in a 125-119 Celtics win.

Meanwhile, Kyrie finished with just 16 points on 6-of-17 shooting to go along with six rebounds and two assists.

The second-seeded Nets now lead the series 2-1 over the No. 7 Celtics, and Boston will look to even things up with a win in Game 4 on Sunday.