Kyrie Irving Among Biggest Villains To Face Celtics In NBA Finals

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The Boston Celtics have come across their fair share of villainous players over the course of their illustrious history.

Kyrie Irving certainly fits into that category and will be public enemy No. 1 in Boston when he takes the floor at TD Garden with the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night for Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

How Irving earned the villain status in the eyes of Celtics fans is well-documented. He announced his commitment to re-sign with the organization only to turn his back and flee in free agency. He then met the relentless boos of Celtics fans in his returns to Boston by flipping the bird and mocking them.

But Irving’s actions aren’t new to the Boston fan base. In fact, the talented guard is just the latest in a long list of villains to face the Celtics on the NBA’s grandest stage.

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And while Irving might play the role of Celtics villain better than anyone, these players — many of them who wore Los Angeles Lakers jerseys — also stood out for drawing the ire of the fans in the Finals.

Draymond Green
The Golden State Warriors forward knows how to rile up a fan base and he did that two years ago against the Celtics. Green became a target for Celtics fans when he got in a dust up with Jaylen Brown in Game 2.

When the Warriors traveled to Boston as the series continued, Green got an earful from Celtics fans, including his name being included in expletive-filled chants. Green didn’t back down after that and only seemed to be fueled by fans’ hatred of him.

Green and the Warriors got the last laugh with Golden State securing an NBA title on the famed parquet floor in Game 6. Green, an able and willing trash talker, left Celtics fans know how he felt as a parting gift.

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Ralph Sampson
Sampson became a mortal enemy in Game 5 of the 1986 Finals when he threw a right hook at Celtics guard Jerry Sichting. The fight was the definition of Sampson not picking on someone his own size. At 7-foot-4, the Hall of Fame center decided to go after the 6-foot-1 Sichting in the second quarter before taking on every other member of the Celtics on the floor at that moment.

“I don’t know why he hit me. What could I do? I threw a couple of elbows, and then he was punching everybody,” Sichting told reporters after the game, per The Los Angeles Times.

The Rockets went on to win the game even after Sampson was ejected — Sichting remained in the game. Sampson got a nasty welcome back in Boston for Game 6 with fans in the stands hanging a Sampson mannequin by a noose.

Pat Riley
Riley was the constant figure on the sidelines for the three legendary Finals battles between the Lakers and Celtics in the 1980s. He was one of the main faces of the Showtime Lakers with his slick back hair and fancy suits, which seemed to stand for everything the lunch-pail Celtics of that time were not.

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Boston’s mystique seemed to get Riley, too. According to The Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy, Riley moved the Lakers to three different hotels during the 1984 series to get away from rowdy Boston fans.

Riley’s hatred for the Celtics seemed to ooze out of him even well after taking two out of those three Finals matchups. He exchanged heated words with then-Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge in 2013 after Ainge complained about how LeBron James was officiated.

“Danny Ainge needs to shut the (expletive) up and manage his own team,” Riley said in a statement, per ESPN. “He was the biggest whiner going when he was playing and I know that because I coached against him.”

Wilt Chamberlain
It was a clash of styles between Chamberlain’s all-around individual greatness and Bill Russell’s team-first mentality. Russell only lost one playoff series in his career against Chamberlain and beat Chamberlain twice in the Finals, including going out in style in 1969.

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It was easy to root against Chamberlain, especially with him struggling continuously against the Celtics and Russell.

There’s a reason the Finals MVP award is named after Russell and not Chamberlain.

Metta World Peace
There had to be someone on this list from the two Finals showdown the Celtics had with the Lakers this century. Peace, formerly known as Ron Artest, fit the billing of the Lakers villain. His physical style of play, especially on the defensive end, seemed to always tip-toe staying on the line and had Celtics fans watching his every move.

Prior to joining the Lakers, Peace had a run-in with Paul Pierce while a member of the Indiana Pacers. He tried to slow Pierce down by pulling down Pierce’s shorts, but the tactic ultimately failed with Pierce hitting a 3-pointer on the play.

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It always hurts that Peace, not Kobe Bryant, made the biggest shot of Game 7 of the 2010 Finals by sinking a 3-pointer with a minute left.

Moses Malone
Malone thought it was a wise decision to unleash some trash talk prior to Game 5 of the 1981 Finals. Bad decision.

“I could get four guys off the street in Petersburg (Virginia, Malone’s hometown) and beat them,” Malone said.

The Celtics responded by handling Malone and the Rockets as Boston won the next two games after Malone’s remarks to close out the series. According to Celtics great Cedric Maxwell, he and his teammates taunted Malone on the floor for his comments, telling the Hall of Famer he “better go get them other four guys, because they have to be better than the four you have right now.”

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Malone really should have been more careful with what he said in that moment and it completely backfired on him.

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