Kyrie Irving left the Boston Celtics in free agency in 2019, and due to a combination of injuries and COVID-related circumstances, he has yet to play a game that counts against his former team with their fans in attendance. That is going to change on Friday when his Brooklyn Nets travel to Boston for Game 3 of their first-round series against the Celtics, who will be at 25 percent capacity before increasing to “nearly full capacity” for Game 4.
Naturally, that means that Irving will likely be booed by his former fans in Boston, but he’s hoping it doesn’t go any further than that. After Tuesday’s Game 2 win over the Celtics, he explained to reporters that he hoped to not experience any racism from fans in the stands at TD Garden on Friday.
“I am just looking forward to competing with my teammates and hopefully, we can just keep it strictly basketball; there’s no belligerence or racism going on — subtle racism,” Irving said. “People yelling s— from the crowd, but even if it is, it’s part of the nature of the game and we’re just going to focus on what we can control.”
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When asked if he had ever heard racist comments at TD Garden, Irving responded by saying he “was not the only one that can attest to this,” before shrugging. Many athletes through several generations have spoken about experiencing racism in Boston, ranging from local heroes like Bill Russell in the 1960s to opposing players like Adam Jones in modern times.