Brooklyn Nets star guard Kyrie Irving defended his actions during Game 1 versus the Boston Celtics, saying he was just responding to the trash talk from the Boston crowd. Irving, who played for the Celtics before leaving them in the 2019 offseason, received a hostile reception on Sunday in Boston.
The cameras caught Irving flipping off several Celtics fans and after the game Irving explained that the explicit comments he received from the crowd prompted his reaction. Irving exploded for 39 points but Jayson Tatum's game-winning layup lifted the Celtics to a 115-114 win.
"Look, where I'm from, I'm used to all these antics and people being close nearby," Irving said, per ESPN. "It's nothing new when I come into this building what it's going to be like -- but it's the same energy they have for me, I'm going to have the same energy for them.
"And it's not every fan, I don't want to attack every fan, every Boston fan. When people start yelling 'p---y' or 'b----' and 'f--- you' and all this stuff, there's only but so much you take as a competitor.
We're the ones expected to be docile and be humble, take a humble approach, f--- that, it's the playoffs. This is what it is."
Irving: I was just returning them their energy
"I know what to expect in here," Irving said after Sunday's game.
"And it's the same energy I'm giving back to them. It is what it is. I'm not really focused on it, it's fun, you know what I'm saying? Where I'm from I've dealt with so much, so coming in here you relish it as a competitor.
... This isn't my first time at TD Garden so what you guys saw, what you guys think is entertainment, or the fans think is entertainment, all is fair in competition. "So if somebody's going to call me out on my name, I'm gonna look at them straight in the eye and see if they really 'bout it.
Most of the time they're not." After the game, Irving said it's not the first time that he has flipped off a fan during an NBA game. "This is the first time you actually caught it because this is a big-time game," Irving said.
"I respond in different ways. I'm not trying to focus on that. If you want to ask me questions about the fans, go ask them. Go on the street and ask them questions."