Kyrie Irving Claims There’s ‘Mutual Respect’ With Celtics Fans

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Celtics fans haven’t been shy to let their feelings about Kyrie Irving known, but the Mavericks star continues to say the right things publicly.

Boston limited Luka Doncic and shut down Irving in Game 1 of the NBA Finals at TD Garden on Thursday. Irving was held to 12 points, and the Dallas guard fell to 0-11 against his former team since 2021.

Fans were raucous even before tipoff, and Irving on Saturday was asked how he dealt with the reactions throughout Game 1.

“By realizing I’ve been in this league for 13 years and I’ve been playing against the Celtics for quite a few years, and I’ve had quite a few playoff series against them, wins or losses,” Irving told reporters, per NBA video. … “Engaging with fans here in Boston is always fun. Like I said last week, it’s something I’ve turned the page over, but people continue to ask me about it and what I think about it, which is cool, too. This is what makes sports fun. That’s what makes the stories fun.”

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There was a group of fans that carried around a blow-up doll of Irving and stomped on it, which the Mavs star didn’t know about. But Irving gave more insight on his relationship with Celtics fans.

“Putting it into perspective, the blow-up dolls, all the remarks that are getting said, that’s basketball,” Irving said. “When I leave out of here and I walk around Boston, I don’t hear a lot of the things I hear when I’m playing on the court. There’s a lot of mutual respect. There’s a lot of eye-to-eye communication that’s built on just being human, and they appreciate the things I do off the floor as well. There are a lot of Celtics fans out there that still love me, surprising to everybody. But when I’m on the street walking around, which I do, it’s a lot of love. I get a lot of grace and take pictures.”

Irving claimed before Game 1 that he had moved on and learned from his past behavior toward fans at TD Garden. That didn’t seem to be the case in reality, however. Legendary Celtics broadcaster Mike Gorman claimed Irving was jawing at a fan during the game and felt it affected his performance.

The box score certainly would indicate the crowd had some kind of effect on Irving. Though, the Celtics defense deserves their own credit for shutting down the All-NBA guard.

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Boston fans likely will be even louder toward Irving as he looks for a rebound performance in Game 2 on Sunday.

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