It’s not exactly a surprising development.
Irving, after all, played two seasons with the Celtics before joining the Nets in 2019. His storyline was always going to be the juiciest as he faced off against his former team in the postseason for the first time since leaving Boston.
Even so, NBA analysts and fans alike got more than they bargained for with this one.
There was Irving’s play, of course — some of it lackluster (like in Game 3), some of it spectacular (like in Game 4). But there was also the fan who threw a water bottle at Irving after Game 4, something that got the fan arrested and banned from TD Garden.
And there was also Irving’s decision to stomp on the face of “Lucky the Leprechaun,” the Celtics logo, at midcourt after Brooklyn’s Game 4 win.
That gesture drew plenty of criticism around the NBA. But Irving also had a lot of support, including from one former Nets star.
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Richard Jefferson Backs up Kyrie
Former Celtics star Kevin Garnett was vocal about his frustration with Irving.
“So nobody gonna say anything about Kyrie stomping ‘Lucky?’” Garnett wrote in a post on his Instagram account on Monday morning. “We just gonna act like we didn’t see that … TF going on.
“You can’t do that. That’s not coo on no level .. All of us need to be better frfr … I’m just sayin.”
A former Nets standout was having none of it.
Richard Jefferson played for the Nets from 2001-08 before finishing his career as a teammate of Irving’s on the Cavaliers. The two played two seasons together in Cleveland, including the team’s 2016 championship season.
So it wasn’t a massive surprise to see Jefferson take to Twitter to defend Irving. Garnett, after all, built a reputation during his playing days for being one of the league’s most excessive trash talkers.
“Kevin Garnett has done FAR more disrespectful things on the court than what Kyrie did,” Jefferson said in his tweet. “I don’t want to hear that noise. He’s crossed that line plenty of times…plenty of times.”
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Irving Weighs in After Nets Knock off Celtics
Irving was solid again Tuesday night, going for 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field in Brooklyn’s series-clinching 123-109 win.
Finally, the Nets can put these Celtics behind them.
“We uniting the whole world with this championship run, so I hope everybody is with us,” Irving told YES Network’s Michael Grady after in a postgame interview, via Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. “We uniting the whole world with this run. Stick with us, baby.”