Brooklyn Nets point guard (and ex-Boston Celtic) Kyrie Irving wasn't present for Boston's 121-110 home win over his current team Wednesday, but the TD Garden fans let their displeasure of him known with loud midgame chants:
After the game, Irving provided the following Instagram post, perhaps in response to the fans' actions:
Chants weren't the only anti-Irving signs Wednesday, as Jimmy Golen of the Associated Press wrote.
"Posters branding him as a coward decorated the entrance to the Boston Garden. A few fans who showed up wearing his No. 11 Celtics jersey with the words 'Where is?' written on tape above his name. During the introductions, with Irving nowhere to be seen, the first 'Kyrie Sucks!' chant broke out; it was repeated about a dozen times throughout the game. (There was also a 'Yankees Suck!' chant, just because.)"
Irving, who has missed seven games with a right shoulder injury, is leading the Nets with 28.5 points and 7.2 assists per game. He left the Celtics for the Nets in free agency last summer, signing a four-year, $141 million deal.
Irving's two-year tenure in Boston did not end well. The 2018-19 Celtics entered last season with championship aspirations, but the team went just 49-33 and lost in five games to the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
There's plenty of blame to go around, and as Jackie MacMullan of ESPN noted, Irving received the brunt of it. But MacMullan also noted that others deserved their fair share. The internal concerns about the season even started early.
"In fact, it didn't take long for Boston's coaching staff to grow concerned about the team's vibe. They peeked in on the preseason pickup games and discovered young players who experienced exhilarating results the previous season by making the extra pass, but were now jacking up shots and running isolation plays. Ironically, it was Irving who implored his teammates to share the ball in the infancy of the season. And yet, by season's end, it was Kyrie who had hijacked the offense."
Irving also made comments citing the team's lack of experience after a disappointing 105-103 loss to the Orlando Magic, which reportedly didn't sit well with teammates, per Ian Begley, then of ESPN. MacMullan also wrote about how Irving's leadership attempts fell flat:
"Yet Kyrie's awkward attempts at providing forceful leadership proved to be flawed, and ultimately destructive. His journey began as an earnest attempt to fulfill his dream of leading his own team to the pinnacle, but he failed spectacularly, with help from a disjointed collection of talented individuals who simply could not figure out how to collaborate in unison."
Still, Irving is just one man on a 12-person roster, in addition to a coaching staff and a front office. He's not the only person at fault for how last season ended.
As it stands, Celtics fans have plenty to cheer about now as new point guard Kemba Walker and the Celtics are 13-4, good enough for a second-place tie in the Eastern Conference with the Toronto Raptors.