The Nets and Celtics are set to play Game 3 of their playoffs series at TD Garden on Friday.
After a powerhouse Game 2 that saw the Nets pummel the Celtics 130-108, point guard Kyrie Irving spoke at a press conference, criticizing the behavior of Celtics fans. Irving expressed his hopes that Boston fans would refrain from racist comments and jeers during Game 3 on Friday night. “Hopefully, we can just keep it strictly basketball; there’s no belligerence or racism going on – subtle racism,” said Irving, adding that he finds such comments to be “part of the nature of the game.”
Irving has been outspoken about overt racism in the NBA and in America at large, often landing him at the forefront of controversial issues. Earlier this month, Irving was fined $35,000 for refusing to speak to the media whom he stated are “pawns” in a post on Instagram last December.
More recently, fans and players rushed to defend the Nets star after he was referred to as “property” by ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan. Irving has continued to be aggressive and persistent in using his platform to combat racial injustice. In January, Irving bought a home for the family of Minneapolis resident George Floyd who died at the hands of police.
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Irving, who played for the Boston Celtics from 2017-2019, clearly does not have a soft spot for the fans or community that once cheered him on. During Wednesday night’s press conference, Irving also attacked the city for the personal racism he has experienced while living and playing there: “I’m not the only one that could attest to this. But it’s just… it is what it is. The whole world knows it.”
There have been no statements from the Nets or Celtics organization in response to Irving’s remarks. Fans and critics will be tuned in Friday night as Kyrie starts as point guard in an attempt to secure the Nets’ third straight victory against the Celtics.