BOSTON — Kyrie Irving didn’t like the word hostility when asked about his interaction and the TD Garden crowd.
“Hostility is growing up in America,” he said as he left the press conference after objecting to it multiple times before that.
Irving instead used the word energy and there was plenty of the negative variety between the sold-out Garden and the former Celtics guard, who had a tumultuous two-year stint in Boston and then signed with the Nets after he said he planned to return to the Celtics.
As they have in the past, the crowd booed him when he walked on the floor and almost every time he touched the ball. They chanted “Kyrie sucks” in unison in the second half. Irving, who had a game-high 39-points, twice flashed middle fingers at the crowd, one with one hand after making a 3-pointer and once with two behind his head.
“The same energy they have for me, I’m going to have the same energy for them. It’s not every fan. I don’t want to attack every Boston fan, but when people start yelling (three expletives) and all this stuff. There’s about so much you can take as a competitor,” he said. “We’re the ones expected to be docile and humble and take a humble approach. Nah (expletive) that, it’s the playoffs. It is what it is. I know what to expect in here. It’s the same energy I’m giving back to them.”
As Irving walked off the floor a fan shouted ‘Kyrie you suck’ and he responded with an expletive.
Irving was asked if the fans’ taunts motivated him.
“I’m not really focused on it. It’s fun. Where I’m from, I’ve dealt with so much so coming in here, you relish it as a competitor. This isn’t my first time in TD Garden. What you guys think is entertainment or what the fans think is entertainment, all’s fair in competition,” he said. “If somebody is going to call me out by my name I’m going to look them straight in the eye and see if they’re really about it. Most of the time they’re not.”
Pushed on the same topic he said: “Embrace it. Just the dark side. Embrace it,” Irving said.
Irving tried to cut off the line of questions.
“Let’s not focus on it. Ask me questions about the game,” he said.
Irving, who said it was “crazy” that he had to answer questions in the postgame, was then asked if he thought Boston fans would ever move on from their animosity toward him after suggesting they should earlier this week.
“Don’t care. Let’s get to the series and talk about the series and how we can get better. I’m not going to focus on the past with Boston,” he said. “I’m on the Brooklyn Nets. I’m happy to be with my teammates competing out there.”
Matt Vautour, masslive.com