Why Celtics will boo Kyrie Irving every time he touches the ball in the NBA Finals

Fans in Boston will undoubtedly be expressing their disapproval every time the former Celtic has the ball in his hands.
Derrick White, Kyrie Irving
Derrick White, Kyrie Irving / Brian Fluharty/GettyImages

In the NBA, many former players are universally revered and respected. Players who represent the best or most accomplished player in a franchise's history like Allen Iverson, Dwyane Wade, Tim Duncan, Hakeem Olajuwon and others are all generally looked at in a positive light by not just their own fans, but by many observers of the NBA for the way they conducted business during their time in the league.

But the players who have been the source of controversy or repeatedly caused conflict over the course of their careers are typically met with mixed reactions from fans in the here and now. With the NBA Finals beginning this week, there is no more appropriate example of this type of player than Kyrie Irving.

Playing with the Boston Celtics from 2017 until 2019, Kyrie enjoyed a solid two years on the hardwood while wearing the Celtic uniform. He was named to two All-Star teams as well as All-NBA second team during the 2018-19 season. But unfortunately, many will remember him for things other than his performance on the court.

In 2017, Irving infamously stated on a podcast that he believed the Earth was flat. Months later, he would explain that he made this declaration simply as a way to stir intellectual discussion, knowing the type of backlash he might recieve. Perhaps it truly was just a thought exercise, but Kyrie's words were still a bit unsettling, and many felt he was making a mockery of the Celtics by representing the team in this way.

Kyrie's relationship with the Celtics is murky at best

Another big event during Irving's Celtics tenure that would ultimately create a rift between he and the organization in the long term was how he handled his free agency. At an open practice at TD Garden in fall 2018, Kyrie reassured the Boston home crowd that he planned to re-sign with the team next summer, assuming the organization would be open to having him back.

So of course, when he ultimately signed a four-year, $141 million deal with the Brooklyn Nets the following offseason, Celtics fans felt he had effectively gone and spit in their faces. Simply leaving the team would not have been such a big problem, but doing so after assuring your fanbase that you would not leave felt like a malicious act to those watching from a distance.

The third and final straw for fans in Boston occurred during the 2021 playoff series between the Nets and Celtics. After Game 4 at TD Garden, Irving appeared to intentionally step on the Celtics' midcourt logo, "Lucky," and walk off. It was an intentional act of disrespect, and that was where the relationship between Kyrie and Boston fans seemed to boil over.

Even 2008 NBA champion and Celtics legend Kevin Garnett took issue with Irving's actions, telling the guard his actions were classless. Of course, ever since his departure, and especially since this turn of events, Celtics fans have gone out of their way to express their disdain for Kyrie, with profanity-laced chants becoming a commonality whenever Irving's team visits in Boston. T-shirts reading "Kyrie sucks" have become normal attire at TD Garden as well.

With all that in mind, it should be of surprise to no one that fans of the Celtics will be going at Irving harder than ever with his Dallas Mavericks coming to town on Thursday night for Game 1 of the Finals. The two parties have created what seems to be a lifelong rivalry, with no true end in sight anytime soon. If Boston can take home their first championship in 16 years, it will be extra sweet for fans to see Kyrie go out with a loss in the process.