On a night the fans seemed more interested in taunting Kyrie Irving than watching basketball, Kemba Walker returned from a neck injury to score a season high 39 points and lead Boston to a 121-110 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.
But the man who attracted most attention from Celtics fans was someone who wasn’t even there on Wednesday. Irving has missed the last seven games with a sore shoulder, but the Boston crowd came to heckle him, even in his absence. He left the Celtics for the Nets during the offseason after initially pledging his future to Boston.
Posters branding Irving a coward decorated the arena entrance. A few fans showed up wearing his No11 Celtics jersey with the words “Where is?” written on tape above his name. During the introductions, with Irving nowhere to be seen, the first “Kyrie Sucks!” chant broke out; it was repeated about a dozen times throughout the game, often when Nets players went to the free-throw line.
“It was better than I thought,” Nets center Jarrett Allen said. “They could’ve booed us every time we touched the ball. If Kyrie was here, it probably would’ve been 10 times worse.”
Kyrie posted this message after missing the Nets-Celtics game Wednesday night.
(via @KyrieIrving) pic.twitter.com/uRq6ZML6cu
About an hour after the game ended, Irving posted a long Instagram story calling sports and entertainment “ignorant and obtrusive.”
“It’s one big show that means very VERY little in the real world that most people live in,” the lengthy and rambling post said before concluding with: “Don’t fall for the Game that’s played in front of you for Entertainment, it’ll never be as serious dealing with LIFE.”
Elsewhere on Wednesday, another player was booed by fans of his former team. Anthony Davis led the Los Angeles Lakers to victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, scoring 41 points in his new team’s 114-110 win. Davis was booed by the home crowd throughout the game. Davis said he had hardly heard any of the vitriol directed his way. “I did hear something during the national anthem,” he told reporters after the game. “That was the only time; it was super quiet. Other than that, I didn’t really hear much. I actually got some love when I was sitting on the bench from some Pelican fans.”
The Lakers now have a league-best 16-2 record after the win over the Pelicans.