Echoing statements made by other black athletes, Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving said he hopes to avoid any ‘subtle racism’ in Boston for Games 3 and 4 of their ongoing playoff series with the Celtics, adding that ‘the whole world knows ‘of the city’s reputation. for prejudice against African Americans.
“I’m just looking forward to competing with my teammates and hopefully we can just keep it strictly basketball; there’s no fighting spirit or racism going on – subtle racism, ” Irving said during a video press conference following Nets’ Game 2 win on Tuesday.
‘People are screaming s **** from the crowd, but even if it does, it’s part of the nature of the game and we’re going to focus on what we can control.’
A former Celtics guard who once predicted he would sign a long-term deal to stay in Boston before joining Brooklyn in 2019, Irving told reporters on Tuesday that he is “ not the only one who can testify ” to the city’s racism.
And at the urging of someone off-camera, the grinning 29-year-old added, ‘the whole world knows.’
Echoing statements made by other black athletes, Nets star Kyrie Irving said he hopes to avoid any “ subtle racism ” in Boston for Games 3 and 4 of their ongoing playoff series, adding that “ the whole world knows ” about the The city’s reputation for prejudice against African Americans
Irving played in Boston before teaming up with former MVP Kevin Durant (left) in Brooklyn
Irving made his remarks in Brooklyn after the second-seeded Nets took an impressive 2-0 lead over the Celtics with a 130-108 victory. Game 3 takes place Friday at Boston’s TD Garden, where 25 percent of the 19,580 seats are expected to be occupied.
The Celtics have said they will be near full capacity for Sunday’s Game 4, when the team may be eliminated.
Irving isn’t the first athlete to accuse the Boston area of racism.
In 2017, Baltimore Orioles centerfielder Adam Jones said he was called the n-word several times by Red Sox fans at Fenway Park in Boston.
Another black centerfielder, Torii Hunter, revealed in 2020 that he had been called the n-word ‘100 times’ at Fenway Park and had once thrown a bag of peanuts at him in the outfield. He even included a clause in several contracts preventing clubs from trading him for Boston.
Bill Russell (second from left) called Boston a ‘flea market of racism’ and insisted in 1972 that his song be retired at a private ceremony at Boston Garden (pictured) because he didn’t want to do it in front of fans
Celtics legend Bill Russell saw his home smashed with racist graffiti in a suburb of the city in 1966 – the same year he was promoted to player coach to become the first black head coach in major North American sports.
He later called the city a “ racist flea market ” and insisted in 1972 that his number be retired at a private ceremony in Boston Garden because he didn’t want to do the proceedings in front of the fans.
Irving’s earlier return to Boston was during the pandemic season this season, so fans were not in attendance.
The city has a love-hate relationship with the former Celtics star.
Irving made his allegiance to Boston by interacting with fans, signing autographs, giving away his sneakers to spectators after games, and pledging to sign with the Celtics again in February 2019.
That summer, however, he and former MVP Kevin Durant decided to team up in Brooklyn, and Boston signed the often-injured All-Star Kemba Walker to fill Irving’s role in the Celtics backcourt.
Now Irvin and the Nets have a 2-0 lead against a Boston team that is without the injured All-Star Jaylen Brown (wrist surgery) and has lost 22 points.
The city has a love-hate relationship with the former Celtics star. Irving faithfully endeared himself in Boston by interacting with fans, signing autographs, giving away his sneakers to spectators after games and pledging to re-sign with the Celtics in February 2019
A fan of Kyrie Irving # 11 of the Boston Celtics shows off his haircut before a game between the Boston Celtics and the Memphis Grizzlies at TD Garden on Feb. 26, 2018 in Boston.
In 2019, Irving and former MVP Kevin Durant decided to team up in Brooklyn, and Boston signed the often-injured All-Star Kemba Walker to fill Irving’s role in the Celtics backcourt. In this photo from 2019, a fan shows his preference for Walker over Irving.