Kyrie Irving is Public Enemy No. 1 in the eyes of many Boston Celtics fans. But his former boss continues to be diplomatic.
The Celtics host the Brooklyn Nets at TD Garden next Wednesday in what will be Irving's first game back in Boston (assuming he shows up) since his acrimonious departure last summer.
Most star players would receive a tribute video from their former team in this situation, but it's a trickier situation with Irving considering the bridges he reportedly burned in Boston.
During an interview Thursday morning on 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Toucher & Rich," though, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he'd be perfectly fine with TD Garden giving Irving a tribute video.
Ainge clarified it's not his call to decide whether Irving gets a tribute video, then insisted Celtics fans are too harsh on the All-Star point guard.
"It was a very good situation with Kyrie," Ainge said. "Kyrie was in a good place, and things were looking good for a year and a half and they went sour.
"... He gets blamed for a lot of the sour of last year, and I just think it's much, much bigger than that. So, I don't have any grudges against Kyrie. I'm grateful that he gave us a chance and it didn't work out. It wasn't his fault things didn't work out. It was a lot of people's fault, including my own."
Irving likely will be booed heartily in Boston, where C's fans haven't forgotten him reneging on a preseason promise to sign with the Celtics long-term before bolting to play with Kevin Durant in Brooklyn.
But Ainge said he's not on board with such a reaction.
"I think that's a sad commentary," Ainge said. "But I understand it just because I know there's been a lot of negative attention."
"I understand all that. I just think it's a bad conclusion to come to. It's not really fair."
Ainge won't make Celtics fans very happy by defending one of their biggest villains, but he's been consistent in taking the high road on Irving's Boston exit.
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The Los Angeles Clippers superstar forward is not going to lavish himself with praise or go into detailed accounts of certain plays. He also barely shows any emotion on the court. The two-time NBA Finals MVP only cares about playing basketball and winning, and that's what you want from the face of your franchise.
Therefore, it wasn't surprising to hear Leonard talk about his incredible poster dunk on Boston Celtics center Daniel Theis and game-saving block on Kemba Walker in the most nondescript way possible after the Clippers' 107-104 overtime victory Wednesday night.
We knew it was coming, but it was still pretty funny. Take a look in the video below:
Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard goes full monotone to describe blow-by-blow his poster dunk on Daniel Theis and game-sealing block: “What do you want me to say? Patrick threw me the ball, I took two dribbles into the paint and tried to jump high and dunk the basketball.” pic.twitter.com/tKkwC7REmZ
If Leonard won't give his dunk the love it deserves, we'll help him out. It was a sensational slam and gave the Staples Center crowd a huge jolt during a critical time in the fourth quarter. In Theis' defense, he made a strong effort to contest the dunk and didn't make what is known as a "business decision" to avoid being on the highlight reel.
Leonard's game-sealing block on Walker in the final seconds of overtime was a fantastic defensive display. But even after making the play of the game, the superstar forward barely showed any emotion, although we did a get a small clap.
The Clippers are an elite defensive team, and that starts with their two best players -- Leonard and Paul George. If these two superstars are healthy come playoff time, it's going to be tough to beat L.A. in a seven-game series. We should't forget, however, that the Celtics gave the Clippers a heck of a fight in a performance that should give instill a lot of confidence in this young Boston squad.