Kyrie Irving’s highly-anticipated playoff return to TD Garden took place in front of a 25 percent capacity crowd Friday night. The crowd lived up to the hype, letting the former Celtics point guard hear the boos from the moment he stepped on the floor.
Fans in TD Garden greet Kyrie Irving with loud chants of booing as he walks out on the court to face the Celtics in Game 3 👀 pic.twitter.com/rW2ADCSRkY— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) May 29, 2021
With 8 minutes left on the warmup clock, Kyrie emerges from the tunnel. Loud boos from the 5,000 on hand. #Celtics pic.twitter.com/l3qAyplz1U— Morey Hershgordon (@MHershgordon) May 29, 2021
The jeering hit a crescendo when Irving was introduced in the Nets’ starting lineups.
Kyrie Irving gets booed by the 25% capacity crowd. pic.twitter.com/ulmUa3Xo6K— Meghan Ottolini (@Meghan_Ottolini) May 29, 2021
The Kyrie boos. pic.twitter.com/LhVEbpGtbC— Tom Westerholm (@Tom_NBA) May 29, 2021
Of course, the Celtics faithful didn’t stop once the game began. For the most part, it was straight boos whenever Irving touched the ball. However, there were occasions that a certain chant broke out as well. (Headphones warning, language NSFW)
When TD Garden is trying to get a ‘Let’s Go Celtics’ chant— Celtics on CLNS (@CelticsCLNS) May 29, 2021
But, instead they get a... pic.twitter.com/wwCWsYGqt9
Why so much hostility? Incase you managed to miss the three-year long saga, Irving was traded to the Celtics before the 2017-2018 season. He regularly talked about wanting to be a lifelong member of the franchise, at one point telling an arena full of fans he planned to sign an extension with the team “if you’ll have me.”
However, that extension never came. He regularly seemed disengaged during his two-year tenure. In 2019, he played in the All-Star Game despite injuries holding him out of games before and after. After a disappointing performance in his final playoff series – of which he responded by telling reporters ‘who cares?’ – he left in free agency to sign with the Nets. Many fans trace the team’s current issues to Irving’s departure.
Through one half, the fans may be having some impact – Irving had just two points in the first half on 1-of-5 shooting, while the Celtics erased an early 19-4 deficit to lead 61-57 at the break.