If you’re the type of Boston fan who’s absolutely incensed by Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving giving the midcourt Celtics logo a special type of farewell on his victorious way out of town, then you probably were scrambling for a distraction from the action on-court.
Sorry for your loss. Everybody hurts.
To have pride in your team is one thing. To believe so strongly that your team’s logo is a sacred parchment and cannot be tred upon…that’s a special level of delusion, unfortunately pirated by an actual segment of sports media after Irving performed an “unspeakable” act after his Game 4 triumph.
After 96 straight minutes of Irving, playing in Boston for the first time since he left for Brooklyn, having to sit through profane chants while ducking water bottles, he reacted subtly to silence the crowd in much the same way Trae Young did at MSG after Game 1.
Unlike Trae Young’s shush, Irving’s logo stomp has now indelibly been stamped upon him in Beantown, elevating him to the top of the pantheon of Boston villains, proving once and for all that the citizens of that city are stuck in the 1700s.
It’s also the greatest thing he’s ever done.
Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving was right to stomp on the Celtics logo.
Let’s briefly live in a world where it’s actually the height of offensiveness for Irving to give a logo a disrespectful stomp on his way off the court — while congratulating his teammates on a blowout win.
In this world, Irving should’ve taken the abuse from the crowd lying down. He should’ve leaned into the water bottle thrown at his head, seeing as he’d been a bad, bad boy during his time with the Celtics and deserved the punishment. After the victory, he shouldn’t have shown his face to the Boston crowd, lest they be reminded they’d just lost.
In reality, Boston fans are lucky that all Irving did was grind his heel into a logo on the parquet. Though you might not agree with the way the point guard deployed the information prior to Game 3, the city’s history of racism is intermingled with its sports legacy. Countless visiting players have left town — even in recent years — swapping stories about the things they’ve heard in the Fenway Park bleachers. For decades, Bostonians have elevated the legacies of less-talented white athletes while often diminishing the contributions of minority stars.
As Celtics legend Tommy Heinsohn once famously said about the way Boston remembered his teammate Bill Russell, the greatest winner in NBA history:
"“Look, all I know is, the guy won two NCAA championships, 50-some college games in a row, the [’56] Olympics, then he came to Boston and won 11 championships in 13 years, and they named a f—— tunnel after Ted Williams.”"
The Celtics logo is not only not sacred, but in fact represents a troubled history.
Of course, there’s one final matter to be addressed here: why Boston thinks they’ve earned the right to taunt the Brooklyn Nets’ point guard.
Celtics fans believe Kyrie Irving “quit” on them because they can’t conceive of someone who doesn’t want to live in Boston and doesn’t want to win for the people of Boston. It doesn’t compute. If they’ve made their entire personalities “Boston Sports,” then why can’t every one of the city’s athletes do the same?
Irving’s behavior during his tenure with the Celtics certainly didn’t live up to expectations, and Boston fans certainly have the right to dislike him without tossing bottles. Without knowing any inside information about the way he was treated and the way his mental health declined during his two years in the city, it became clear in an injury-ravaged tenure that Irving and Boston didn’t mesh.
All of Celtics fans’ pain points here are also perception, though. In his two seasons with the team, Irving ranked as Boston’s best player in terms of win shares both times (8.9 and 9.1). In his first year, the team navigated all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals without him. In his second season, the C’s stole Game 1 from the heavily-favored Milwaukee Bucks before losing the next four, an oft-used example of Irving “quitting” on the team on his way out of town. Perhaps his team just didn’t have the firepower to win four consecutive games in upset fashion?
Then, finally, there was the promise. In a season-ticket holder event ahead of his free agency, Irving supposedly agreed to come back to Boston for his next contract — but that’s…not actually what he said. The direct quote was, “If you guys will have me back, I plan on re-signing here.”
After the way the city immediately turned on him when he departed for Brooklyn, it’s now clear Irving was right. For two years, the fans had faked it. They wouldn’t “have him back” with genuine love and affection; therefore, he left for a better situation.
If you triumphed over the type of concentrated adversity that Irving had just experienced for 72 hours, as well as the several years prior, you’d show a bit of disrespect to your old employer on the way out, too.