Kyrie Irving Apr 17, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) stares down Boston Celtics fans heckling from the stands before the start of the first round against the Boston Celtics for the 2022 NBA playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into Game 1 of the NBA’s Eastern Conference quarterfinals matchup between the second-seeded Boston Celtics and seventh-seeded Brooklyn Nets Sunday (which Boston won 114-113 on a last-second shot from Jayson Tatum), much of the talk was about how former Celtics’ player Kyrie Irving would be received in Boston. Yes, Irving had played in Boston since leaving the Celtics for the Nets in free agency after the 2018-19 season, including in a first-round playoff series last year (second-seeded Brooklyn won that series 4-1), but his returns there still come with a lot of discussion, especially around his comments on Celtics’ fans. And Irving (seen above warming up ahead of Sunday’s game) was booed throughout this game (in which he posted 39 points, six assists, five rebounds and four steals), and he responded at one point in the fourth quarter by flipping fans a double bird behind his head:

This came after an earlier single bird:

Irving also appeared to yell “Suck my dick, bitch!” in response to a “You suck!” line from a fan earlier when he was walking to the locker room:

(That particular “Suck my dick” expression is a recurring one for Irving, who was fined $25,000 in 2017 for telling a Philadelphia 76ers fan the same thing.)

Here’s what Irving said afterwards on his reactions:

It is also at least funny that his head coach, Steve Nash, said there wasn’t any atmosphere that could rattle Irving:

Irving certainly delivered a great on-court performance Sunday, but he also made some headlines for his reactions towards fans. And it will be interesting to see if the NBA fines him again over that, and if so, for how much.

[Alex Schiffer on Twitter; image from David Butler II/USA Today Sports]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.