Kyrie: ‘Nothing but respect’ for C’s players, coaching staff originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Brooklyn Nets guard opened up about his former team after eliminating them from the NBA playoffs on Tuesday night. Irving praised C’s players and coaches while also looking back on his time in Boston.
“We want to give all the respect to those guys and the amount of work they put in as well,” Irving told reporters after Game 5. “We don’t want to disrespect them or anything they put forth in terms of their hard work. That boy Jayson Tatum as I said over the time I played with him has grown tremendously. Nothing short of proud of him, nothing short of proud of [Marcus] Smart, all the guys that have come in and gave us their competitive spirit.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity that I had in Boston. 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 people don’t know about, so to see kind of the emotions that were lingering on from the past year-and-a-half between that, I’m just glad it’s settled. And for me, we can just move on and focus on the rest of this long season that we have ahead. So just grateful that we have a chance to be together in the trenches, me and my teammates, and we just get to move on from this.
“But like I said, it’s nothing but respect for the players, the coaching staff over there in Boston. In terms of everything extracurricular in the outside environment, you let that handle itself.”
The eventful first-round series saw Irving return to TD Garden to play in front of Boston fans for the first time since he was a Celtic in 2019. The seven-time All-Star predictably was booed relentlessly by C’s fans, but a line was crossed when one fan threw a water bottle at him following Game 4.
Despite the many emotions throughout the series, Irving embraced Celtics players and staff with hugs and handshakes after Game 5. It’s clear there are no hard feelings between Irving and his ex-teammates, even if he remains public enemy No. 1 for the C’s fan base.
Irving and the Nets are set to take on the Milwaukee Bucks in Round 2.