Kyrie Irving has a habit of stirring the pot, so why would his return to Boston be any different?
On Tuesday night — after the Brooklyn Nets took a commanding 2-0 lead over the Boston Celtics in their first round playoff series — Irving was asked about his return to the city he once called home.
“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 sh** 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.”
Asked whether he has experienced racism in Boston in his playing career before, Irving said, “I’m not the only one that could attest to this, but it is what it is.”
Irving played for the Celtics from 2017-2019 after demanding a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers. His time in a Celtics uniform was short and largely disappointing, as he missed the 2017 playoffs due to injury and is widely credited with causing tension in the locker room. After telling Celtics fans he planned on re-signing with the team “if you guys will have me back,” Irving bolted town to join Kevin Durant in a Nets uniform.
Game three of the first round series will take place in Boston on Friday night, and Celtics fans will have their first chance to make their sentiments towards the star point guard known since his departure.
Boston does not have a stellar reputation among black athletes, a factor some point to when discussing the cities occasional inability to attract top players in free agency.
19-year MLB veteran Torii Hunter told ESPN last year that he experienced racial abuse at Fenway Park when his teams would play in Boston and that he listed the Red Sox in the no-trade clause of his contracts.
“When I went to Boston it was so consistent,” Hunter said on WEEI. “It has nothing to do with the Red Sox. It has nothing to do with the players. It has nothing to do with the organization. It really has nothing to do with the fans. But that’s the issue when you hear that.”
Hunter recounted an instance at Fenway Park when “four of five” kids pelted him with racial slurs during a game in Boston.
“When I heard ‘N-word, N-word’ just chanting my name and I looked at these grown-ups and they are clapping and laughing,” Hunter said. “I’m pointing saying, ‘Tell them to shut up. That’s bad.'”
Boston Red Sox president, Sam Kennedy, had to apologize to Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones after Red Sox fans taunted him with racial slurs in 2017, and former New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia has said that black baseball players expect racial taunts when playing the Red Sox.
Irving has been in the news as of late, as he spoke on the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians at the end of the NBA regular season.
I’m not going to lie to you guys, a lot of stuff is going on in this world, and basketball is just not the most important thing to me right now. There’s a lot of stuff going on overseas. All my people are still in bondage across the world, and there’s a lot of dehumanization going on.
So I apologize if I’m not going to be focused on y’all’s questions. It’s just too much going on in the world for me to just be talking about basketball. I focus on this s*** 24/7, most of the time, but it’s just too much going on in this world not to address. It’s just sad to see this s*** going on. It’s not just in Palestine, it’s not just in Israel. It’s all over the world, man, and I feel it. I’m very compassionate … to all races, all cultures, and to see a lot of different people being discriminated against based on their religion, color of their skin, what they believe in. It’s just sad.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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