With the Brooklyn Nets and the Boston Celtics playing two games in three days this week, Kyrie Irving found himself at the center of attention despite not appearing in either contest because of a shoulder injury.
Boston guard Marcus Smart is ready to move on from the matter.
"I'm really honestly tired of hearing about Kyrie. Kyrie's no longer with the Boston Celtics, and it's a slap across everybody on this team that's here now to keep hearing Kyrie's name," Smart said following Friday's 112-107 loss. "Yet everybody, including the Boston fans, wanna talk about Kyrie. Let's talk about Boston Celtics."
Irving spent two seasons in Boston after requesting a trade out of Cleveland in 2017. In October 2018, he announced to the TD Garden crowd that he planned on re-signing with the Celtics. However, following a tumultuous 2018-19 campaign, he opted to sign with the Nets, along with friends Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan, in free agency.
Boston replaced Irving with three-time All-Star Kemba Walker and has not looked back. The Celtics (13-5) are currently tied for the third-most wins in the NBA.
Despite the team's early success this season, Irving has been a major storyline this week. He did not make the trip to Boston for Wednesday's game, though that did not stop Celtics fans from hanging up "Coward" posters outside of TD Garden, creating signs and chanting "Kyrie sucks."
Irving responded to the hostility via social media:
On Friday, the two teams completed the home-and-home sequence at the Barclays Center. Irving was in attendance for the meeting and used the opportunity to catch up with his former teammates:
Smart told reporters that he holds no ill will toward Irving's decision to leave in free agency, saying, "That's my brother." However, he can't help but be frustrated with the attention the situation has garnered compared to the team's play on the court.
The good news for Irving, Smart and the Celtics is that this is the last they should hear about the matter for some time. Boston and Brooklyn still play twice more this season, but their next matchup is not until March 3.