Kyrie Irving has been in the news for a number of reasons this season and the latest one is a standoff with the fans of his former team, the Boston Celtics. The Brooklyn Nets’ guard was one of the major talking points when the first-round matchup between Brooklyn and Boston was made.
Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving are the 1st trio in NBA history to score 95+ points in back-to-back playoff games h/t @EliasSports pic.twitter.com/MNGZDnYYTl — ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 31, 2021
The acrimonious conditions surrounding his departure from Boston into the free-agent market and ultimately to Brooklyn are no justification for the abuse he’s received but it shows the fire behind the smoke.
The fan who threw a water bottle at Kyrie Irving is subject to a lifetime ban from TD Garden. He was also arrested, a league source told @TimBontemps. pic.twitter.com/spxs3qZzVh — SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 31, 2021
There’s also a possibility that the abuse is a consequence of Kyrie’s actions, once again not a justification of the abuse directed at him.
There are a good number of reasons to not like Kyrie to be honest, but none of those reasons warrants a bottle thrown at his head while doing his job.
Clutching at straws
The latest twist in this case has been the attempt to justify the incident by pointing out that Kyrie Irving stepped on the Celtics logo.
Irving appeared to stomp on the famous “Lucky” logo, much to the disdain of the fans and ex-players, particularly Kevin Garnett and Glen Davis.
KG speaks on Kyrie stepping on the Celtics logo after the game last night. pic.twitter.com/4G4UWSpeEd — Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 31, 2021
The pair have been vocal about the perceived disrespect intended by Kyrie with the action but in truth, they are just clutching at straws.
Yes, Kyrie Irving did stomp on the logo and he most likely meant it as disrespect, so what? He doesn’t owe the Celtics any respect.
He was getting booed for four straight games and chants of “F___ you Kyrie” echoed around the arena, of course, he thought to get one back on them.
Yes, it wasn’t a wise thing to do, but it is utterly disappointing that two black men in Garnett and Davis would try to use the stomping of a fictional character carved into wood as justification for a potential racist attack.
Why poke the bear?
Knowing the disdain the Celtics fans had for him, Kyrie would have benefited from not stirring up any conflict, which was the opposite of what he did. Before the series tipped off at all, Irving’s comments indicated that he expected harsh treatment, but he didn’t need to bring race into it.
Kyrie Irving spoke out on racist comments he's heard from Celtics fans in the past ahead of the Nets return to Boston for Game 3. pic.twitter.com/EcZPaVeh2N — theScore (@theScore) May 26, 2021
“Hopefully we can just keep it strictly basketball, there’s no belligerence or any racism going on, subtle racism and people yelling s— from the crowd.” Because of that statement, something of the sort was bound to happen. But to be fair, it could still have happened without Kyrie’s comments.
He wasn’t wrong, Boston does have a history of racism, other players have complained about it in the past as well. But what good does saying that do? Especially knowing he would play at the TD Garden three times in his next seven games.
There’s also a possibility the bottle incident in Boston had nothing to do with Kyrie Irving and his comments. It may have just been the latest display of petulance from the spectators who have only recently just been allowed back into the arenas. There have been several incidents of fan violence towards players in just over a week of NBA playoff basketball.
Ahead of Game 3, Trae Young addresses the incident where a fan spit on him at Madison Square Garden. pic.twitter.com/4Y2vxGdcIp — NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) May 28, 2021
Russel Westbrook had popcorn thrown on him, Trae Young was spat at, Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks’ families were verbally abused. Maybe the fans just have too much power nowadays and the one at the TD Garden thought he could be the latest in the trend.
Kyrie Irving had been getting understandably hostile treatment in the first three games of the playoff series, booed and jeered every time he touched the ball. However, the fans (a fan to be more specific) took it too far in game four.
Although it is hard to determine if the act was racially charged, seeing as the fan (who was arrested immediately) was white.
Cole Buckley, the 21-year-old suspect who allegedly threw a water bottle at Kyrie Irving, is charged with assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon and will be arraigned Tuesday in Boston Municipal Court, according to Boston Police. More: https://t.co/3xJfsOq4qu pic.twitter.com/GYdVE3ICRB — SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 31, 2021
But it is worthy to mention that the fan was wearing a Kevin Garnett jersey. Make of that what you will.
Answering on the court
To his credit, Kyrie Irving has not allowed any of the shenanigans to throw his game off, he’s played well in this series.
His 39 points and 11 boards were essential to Brooklyn taking game four and extending their lead to 3-1.
The handles on Kyrie though 🤯 pic.twitter.com/7rMo5vdKgO — sportsthread (@sportsthread) May 31, 2021
As a result, Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets are just one win away from seeing the last of the Celtics.
The league needs to be more affirmative in dealing with situations like this by making a scapegoat of the next offender. The fans must also understand that booing an ex-player is in the spirit of the game, throwing a bottle at him isn’t.
We must all have basic respect for one another’s humanity, it’s not okay to act like we are “in a zoo” like Kyrie said.
Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving calls NBA arenas 'a human ZOO' after a fan threw a water bottle at his head https://t.co/YWmyQld7QW — MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) May 31, 2021
In conclusion, the NBA has to stamp out this sort of behavior completely or risk players taking matters into their own hands.
We wouldn’t want a repeat of the Indiana Pacers – Detroit Pistons brawl, would we? (Actually, as a fan, I would, but I’m sure Adam Silver wouldn’t.)