It has been almost two calendar years since superstar point guard and one-time team leader Kyrie Irving went back on his verbal commitment to re-sign with the Celtics and ditch the Green for a Brooklyn team-up with Kevin Durant.
And, finally, with the Celtics eliminated by Irving and the Nets in a decisive Game 5 at the Barclays Center on Tuesday night, the 29-year-old feels that he has closure on the situation and his Boston run.
“To see the emotions that were lingering on for the past year and a half between that, I’m just glad it’s settled,” Irving, whose series included his first with-crowd return to Boston, said following the series-clinching victory. “And for me, we can just move on and focus on the rest of this long season that we have ahead. Just grateful that we get a chance to be together in the trenches, me and my teammates, and we just get to move on from this.”
And the return to Boston was not the easiest one.
Kicking off the Nets’ trip up to Boston with talk of ‘subtle racism’ at Celtic games (a decision that seemed to bother the Celtics’ Jaylen Brown), Irving undoubtedly seemed rattled by boos from a 25-percent full Garden crowd in Game 3. But Irving undoubtedly responded in Game 4, with a 39-point performance and a water bottle thrown his way.
In between the 39 points and the bottle narrowly missing him, Irving also stomped on the C’s center court logo. That move seemed to bother just about everybody, from Kevin Garnett to Glen Davis to Cedric Maxwell.
But Irving also used the series-ending media availability to express his gratitude to the Celtics.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity I had in Boston,” Irving, who spent two seasons with the Celtics following a trade from Cleveland, said. “I’m grateful for a lot of the support that I had post leaving there. Obviously it wasn’t the easiest transition to deal with. There was a lot going on personally while I was there in Boston that a lot of people don’t know about.
“But like I said, it’s nothing but respect for the players [and] the coaching staff over there in Boston. In terms of everything extracurricular and the outside environment, you let that handle itself. So [I’m] just proud.”
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.