Nets' Kyrie Irving Wants to 'Move Past' Celtics Fan Tension Ahead of Playoff Series

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVApril 15, 2022

Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers at the Barclays Center, Sunday, Apr. 10, 2022, in New York. The Nets defeated the Pacers 134-126. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving isn't sweating the disdain many Boston Celtics fans seem to have for him ahead of the teams' first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.

According to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, Irving said Friday: "I hope we could move past my Boston era and reflect on some of the highlights I left at TD Garden that they can replay. Move forward. Just a new paradigm, baby."

Kyrie spent two seasons with the Celtics, but he opted to leave for the Nets in free agency during the 2019 offseason.

Irving arrived in Boston in 2017 after requesting a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers. He was productive when healthy, but he missed time during the regular season and playoffs, and the Celtics couldn't get past the Eastern Conference Finals during his tenure.

Making his departure even more frustrating for Celtics fans was the fact that he told season-ticket holders at a team event before the 2018-19 season that he planned on re-signing.

That never happened, and Irving joined the Nets instead, which led to his becoming a hated figure among Boston sports fans.

Kyrie has been booed loudly and often whenever he has returned to TD Garden, including during last season's first-round playoff series between the Nets and C's.

Sports Illustrated @SInow

Kyrie Irving on being booed in Boston: “It's like the scorned girlfriend, wants an explanation on why I left but still hoping for a text back”<br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/NBCSCeltics?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NBCSCeltics</a>)<a href="https://t.co/qG7XtXJiNh">pic.twitter.com/qG7XtXJiNh</a>

While the Nets made quick work of the Celtics in last year's playoffs, this year's series has the makings of a classic.

Aside from the potential drama between Irving and Boston fans, the talent and quality of the teams are special.

The Nets are led by Irving and Kevin Durant, plus Ben Simmons could make his season debut after Brooklyn acquired him from the Philadelphia 76ers in February.

As for the Celtics, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and NBA Defensive Player of the Year candidate Marcus Smart lead the way. All have blossomed since Irving's departure.

The Nets are perhaps the most dangerous No. 7 seed in the history of the NBA playoffs. They lost 11 in a row during a 21-game stretch when Durant was out with an MCL injury, and Irving has played only 29 games since he was unvaccinated against COVID-19 and could not play at home until late March.

The winner of the series will have a shot to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals, and because of that, tensions could run high between Irving and Celtics fans during the games in Boston.