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USA Today via Reuters

The Celtics fans still haven’t forgotten Kyrie Irving‘s betrayal. Incessant chants of Kyrie Sucks echoed through the TD Garden as the Mavericks struggled in Game 1 and Game 2 of the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics. The 2016 NBA champion did not just stomp on Lucky back in 2021. He stomped on Celtics fans’ emotional nerves, a repercussion of which the player still faces!

The verbal attacks did disrupt the NBA All-Star’s rhythm and concentration many times, as the Celts were smoking them on defense. The hostility did not let Irving score beyond an average of 14 points in the postseason thus far. But as much as they despise the enigmatic star, the audience tried to catch a breath when the former Celtics player was at the free throw line. However, during this time, Boston’s veteran center, Al Horford, was reportedly seen encouraging the crowd to continue their slander on Irving.

Speaking to ‘The Bill Simmons Podcast’, Ryen Russillo recalled the same and noted, “I don’t know if it is true, but I kind of want it to be true. There was a big ‘Kyrie sucks’ chant going on with Kyrie lined up on the free-throw line outside of Horford. And Horford, you’re right, after the first free throw the chant died down a little, but then Horford kind of was like, ‘No, let’s keep these going’.”

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Simmons, who was present at the game, saw Horford do the same when Daniel Gafford was shooting free throws. As cheap or unethical as it might seem, the postseason is meant to be brutal. Horford, being a seasoned vet, knows the impact a crowd’s jarring wave can have on any player.

Irving’s time is not over!

Who can forget the Game 1 between the Brooklyn Nets and the Boston Celtics, in 2022, when Kyrie Irving had flipped off multiple fans? The gesture not only turned the point guard into Boston’s most hated man but also resulted in a $50,000 fine! However, as we all know, history likes repeating itself. During the Mavericks’ first clash with the Celtics, the 32-year-old player showed the finger once again. Luckily, the action went unnoticed this time. But what he did during Game 2 didn’t!

In a pure show of defiance, as the shooting guard was exiting the court, he held up his hand and gestured a five toward the crowd. Referencing Game 5, slated for June 17, it was a symbolic gesture guaranteeing the Dallas Mavericks‘ return.

But can he make it possible? While that’s hard to predict, trolls certainly don’t affect him anymore. As the finals even saw some people bringing blow-up dolls with Irving’s face pasted on them, the player took it all in stride. In a conversation after this year’s Game 1, according to The New York Times, he said, I don’t expect to be celebrated by everybody. I’m going to still be aware that a lot of people want to see me fail. But putting into perspective the blow-up dolls and remarks that are getting said, that’s basketball.

Hence, it’s safe to say the story of the NBA Finals starts and ends with Kyrie Irving. As for the gameplay, the Melbourne native hasn’t been able to support his teammates that well.

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Right before the Celtics series, Irving found a way to carve up the best defense in the league completely dismantling the Minnesota Timberwolves with his innate dexterity. He even scored 36 in the closeout Game 5. On the contrary, so far against the Celtics, he is yet to eclipse 20.

The remarks of the crowd, along with tenacious defense from both Jrue Holiday and Jaylen Brown, have rendered Irving ineffective so far. He is shooting below 40% as opposed to his 49% in the conference finals. Luckily, Irving and the Mavs will be well-received in the next two games. A packed American Airlines Center will embrace Kai with compassion. Maybe that’s what he needs. A little love after suffering the brutal Boston experience.

Dallas will count on a Kyrie Irving bounceback. He has done it before, and he sure possesses the mentality and fortitude to fight his demons.

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But before you go, be sure to check this video of Leonardo Armato’s take on Caitlin Clark vs Angel Reese.