Nets' Kevin Durant Says Celtics Fans' Disdain for Kyrie Irving Is 'Rooted in Love'

Doric SamApril 19, 2022

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 17: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets and Kevin Durant #7 look on during the first quarter of Round 1 Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on April 17, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

As the Brooklyn Nets prepare for Wednesday's Game 2 against the Boston Celtics, they know they're in for a hostile environment at TD Garden, especially because of the fans' disdain for point guard Kyrie Irving.

However, Nets star forward Kevin Durant looked at the fans' hate for Irving from a different perspective Tuesday.

"It's rooted in love," Durant told reporters. "They once loved you. They once cheered for you and bought your merchandise, had life-altering experiences coming to games watching you play. So when it kinda gets ripped from them from just something like a trade ... it feel like a piece of them is gone too."

Irving was fined $50,000 on Tuesday for flipping off Boston fans and directing profanity at them during Sunday's Game 1 loss. He said after the game that he was giving the crowd the "same energy" it was giving him.

The vitriol Celtics fans have for Irving stems from his decision to sign with the Nets as a free agent in 2019. Prior to the 2018 season when he was with Boston, he made a verbal commitment to re-sign with the team before hitting free agency. Things changed when he had the opportunity to team up with Durant in Brooklyn.

Durant is no stranger to hostile fanbases. After leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder to join the Golden State Warriors, he had his fair share of unfriendly reunion games in front of his former home crowd. His experience in those situations likely informs his opinion on where the fans' hatred stems from.

"It shows that people care, people have emotions and people really respect and admire who we are as individuals. Sometimes it gets a little dark and deep, but that's just how the human brain works," Durant said. "So we understand all of that, and the fans understand where we come from now at this point too, because we all have our own platforms and speak on stuff like this. It's healthy once everybody understands both sides."