Kyrie Irving is forever the victim.
There are no shortcomings upon which he shoulders blame.
In Game 1 against the Celtics, Kyrie flipped a double-bird behind his back at the TD Garden crowd. He scored 39 points, including 18 in the fourth quarter.
But what he didn’t do was get off a shot on the Nets’ final possession.
Nor did he stop Boston on theirs.
Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart dropped the biggest dime on Causeway Street/Legends Way since Larry Bird stole the ball and found DJ racing toward the basket 35 years ago.
Smart’s pass enabled Jayson Tatum’s game-winner at the buzzer.
Mike Breen is still waiting for the layup to be reversed.
Tatum is now about 26 months away from being the best non-Greek player in the NBA.
Still, Kyrie made it all about Kyrie.
He always does.
Even after a 115-114 defeat.
Some fans yelled bad words. Kyrie responded in kind.
“There’s only but so much you take as a competitor,” Kyrie said. “We’re the ones expected to be docile and be humble, take a humble approach, f*** that, it’s the playoffs,” he added in embracing his “dark side.”
Thankfully, no one threw projectiles. Or tried their hand at assault and battery.
The police that so many NBA players fought to defund stand ready to protect them from any nutjob in Boston or elsewhere who wants to try their luck at beating up a professional athlete. Or glue their hands to the baseline.
Otherwise, the Game 1 shenanigans were words on words, plus a couple of fingers.
Child-like behavior all the way around.
Kyrie was right in his element.
No matter the situation, fault for Kyrie’s failure always lies elsewhere.
The history is irrefutable.
Gordon Hayward’s ankle.
The youth and inexperience of his Celtics teammates.
The inability of his coach to relate.
The expectations that come with playing in Boston.
(Remember the “No. 11” commercial for Nike?)
The naivete of Celtics fans to take him at his word when he said he was going to stay.
And, of course, the biggest crutch of them all, racism.
Kyrie is the NBA’s version of Jussie Smollett, minus the criminal record.
When you play the race card, you never have to show your hand. In Boston, it’s the ultimate bluff.
In 2021, Kyrie tried to inoculate himself from any criticism in Boston with a pre-emptive strike calling Celtics fans racist without any specific proof.
“Hopefully we can just keep it strictly basketball, there’s no belligerence or any racism going on. Subtle racism and people yelling s*** from the crowd. But even if it is, that’s just the nature of the game, and we’re just going to focus on what we can control,” he said last May.
You’d think after playing in Boston for two years and having a father who played four years at Boston University, Kyrie could have offered evidence to cite when defaming several million people.
Instead, he tore a page right out of the John Henry/Adam Jones/David Price playbook.
The racism was so “subtle,” it cannot be heard by human ears. Talk about a dog whistle.
If one wants to discuss usage of the “n-word” inside TD Garden, my money backs Kevin Garnett as the undisputed champion.
Kyrie and his NBA State Media apologists in Bristol, New York and Los Angeles still believe everyone with Greater Boston in their DNA has an inner Charles Stuart yearning to be free.
In 1989, Stuart murdered his wife but said the assailant was a Black man. The city tore itself apart in the aftermath. Stuart eventually “jumped” to his death from the Tobin Bridge.
When Kyrie isn’t playing victim, he’s offering gibberish disguised as intellect, or dealing in self-delusional hyperbole.
“It’s like a scorned girlfriend, asking for an explanation why I left, but still wanting a text back,” Kyrie said last month of the criticism he receives from the high-rolling Green Teamers seated courtside.
Hey, Kyrie, don’t fool yourself.
You weren’t that good.
One appearance in the second round of the playoffs is the basketball equivalent of a 3 a.m. Uber backseat quickie. You watched your inexperienced teammates reach the Eastern Conference Finals in 2018 (not always) from the bench.
Kyrie seems to have forgotten that Boston was scorned by the most gorgeous creature of them all – Tom Brady.
After Tom, you might as well enter the priesthood.
Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal wisely noted that what Kyrie did Sunday will only make things worse for him tonight in Game 2, at least when it comes from vitriol from Celtics fans.
In the second-biggest surprise of the week, the NBA fined Kyrie $50,000 Tuesday for “making obscene gestures on the playing court and directing profane language toward the spectator stands” in Game 1.
The money is a chump’s pocket change. There’s a double-standard for players and fans here. As there should be. The bar for players must be higher. They are the paid professionals in this equation.
This doesn’t excuse verbiage that crosses the latest metaphorical line. Nor is it an endorsement for vile fan behavior. But a few f-bombs never hurt anyone. And for 75 years, visiting villains have faced the Celtics in Boston. Dozens have been cursed at and booed.
A few silenced the crowd by winning big games, closing out a series, or celebrating a title on the renowned parquet.
Kyrie was the first to flip a double-bird to half of TD Garden on live national television in a Game 1 loss.
He can give Boston the ultimate middle finger by eliminating the Celtics in this round and winning Brooklyn’s first championship since 1955.
Of course, if he does, he’ll be the complement to Kevin Durant’s success, as he was for James in Cleveland.
When you’re forever lost in the shadows, it’s easy to see how you end up on the “dark side.”
Bill Speros (@RealOBF) can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.