Brooklyn Nets: Kyrie Irving was right to express worries about Boston crowd

Brooklyn Nets, Kyrie Irving (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets, Kyrie Irving (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

You know how we were proclaiming before playoffs that Brooklyn Nets fans should be rooting for a first-round matchup against Boston?

That analysis turned out to be spot on, as the Nets have won the first two games by a combined 33 points…that could’ve been more if not for their sluggish start in Game 1.

Speaking strictly in terms of Game 2, Brooklyn was in cruise control pretty much from the first quarter when they opened up a 14-point lead courtesy of a blazing hot start from Joe Harris, who finished the game with 25 points and seven threes.

The Nets will now pack their bags for Games 3 and 4 in Boston, and they should expect to face a hostile TD Garden crown. After all, this series was dead on arrival for the Celtics, and their fans may resort to heckling and jeering to make the wound less painful.

After Tuesday’s blowout win, Kyrie Irving was asked for his thoughts about returning to a packed TD Garden for the first time since he left as a free agent two years ago.

Clearly aware of Boston’s troubling history in terms of visiting (and sometimes home) athletes being the targets of racist treatment from fans, Irving rightly expressed his hope for the 25% capacity crowd to keep things “strictly basketball.”

Kyrie Irving was right to express his concerns about Boston’s crowd.

"“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 told reporters. “People yelling (expletive) 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.”"

For anyone who rolled their eyes when they first stumbled across Irving’s quote, he obviously wasn’t asking Celtics fans not to provide a playoff atmosphere. That would be ridiculous.

As someone who cares deeply about social causes and weeding out racism — he was spotted on the front lines of protests following the murder of George Floyd — the All-Star point guard was merely expressing his concerns over Boston’s disturbing history.

Even Bill Russell, a Celtics legend through and through who helped the franchise win 11 championships, famously dubbed Boston a “flea market of racism.” Back in 2017, former Orioles outfielder Adam Jones claimed he was called the n-word multiple times by Red Sox fans at the iconic Fenway Park. And Irving’s — ahem — been there before in front of these raucous fans.

When asked if he was ever the subject of racist remarks at TD Garden, Irving shrugged his shoulders and said he wasn’t “the only one that can attest to this.”

Like always, pundits and former athletes who didn’t endure this experience in Boston will probably come out and slam Irving for being dramatic or making things bigger than basketball (Kendrick Perkins has already done so) and those who take that side should be ashamed.

Given the city’s extensive history, the 29-year-old superstar was fully justified expressing his concerns.