Celtics

Kyrie Irving fined $25,000 for throwing basketball into the stands

Kyrie Irving fined $25,000 for throwing basketball into the stands

The NBA fined Celtics All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving $25,000 for launching a basketball into the stands after the final buzzer of Monday’s loss to the Denver Nuggets, and Irving agrees with the penalty — though he also doubled-down on his criticism of Jamal Murray.

Irving, angered when Murray attempted a last-second 3-pointer while trying to eclipse 50 points at the end of Monday’s game, fired the game ball deep into the stands at the Pepsi Center.

“[The fine was] well deserved," Irving told reporters at Boston’s offday practice Tuesday in Phoenix. "There's a sense of professionalism that you have to uphold within this league, and I failed to do so, so I take full responsibility for it."

Yet even though Irving was accountable for his actions that led to the fine, he reaffirmed his displeasure with Murray's shot, which sullied a night in which the 21-year-old scored a career-high 48 points as Denver improved to 9-1 on the season.

"From a competitive standpoint, I think [the ball] absolutely deserved to go into the stands,” said Irving. "You just don't play basketball like that, and it's as simple as that. You just don't. There's a tradition and a respect within the league as well as within any basketball game. Obviously you've won the game, have it sealed, had a great game - the game of your life, and then you do something like that. It's just petty, it's immature. But we'll see him again though."

All of a sudden, that March 18 game in Boston has a little more juice.

A day after suggesting, “the ball deserves to go in the crowd after a bulls— move like that,” Irving didn’t back down from his critique.

“[Murray] knew. It’s not like I hold any resentment towards it, but hopefully going forward after this, he doesn’t do anything like that,” said Irving. "You’ve seen guys throughout the league, I believe there was an incident in Indiana when Lance Stephenson took a layup at the end where they were playing against Toronto, and it’s just experiences that everyone has. 

"You just don’t do that in the NBA. In any game, it’s just a respect for your opponent, and I felt disrespected after the game. So your career-high ball goes in the stands."

Celtics coach Brad Stevens didn’t have much to say about the fine but admitted, 'I think that's a pretty consistent fine from what I've been told.”

Irving was also fined $25,000 last season for a profane outburst in Philadelphia. The Celtics won 16 consecutive games after rallying from behind to win that game against the Sixers.

Could Irving’s latest outburst spark the Celtics again?

Said Irving: "We just gotta continue to be better and will ourselves to be the best team in this league eventually."

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Classic Celtics: C's outlast Michael Jordan's Bulls in 1986 playoff thriller

Classic Celtics: C's outlast Michael Jordan's Bulls in 1986 playoff thriller

Want to witness one of the greatest individual performances in NBA history? Just tune into NBC Sports Boston on Sunday night.

Our "Classic Celtics" series -- which featured Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals on Friday night -- continues Sunday with a throwback: Game 2 of Boston's 1986 NBA playoffs first-round series with the Chicago Bulls.

That April 20, 1986, game at TD Garden was a defining moment for then-23-year-old Michael Jordan, who went off for an NBA postseason-record 63 points.

But Celtics fans can appreciate Jordan's masterful performance knowing that Boston outlasted Chicago 135-131 in double overtime and swept the series en route to an eventual NBA title.

The broadcast begins Sunday at 7 p.m. ET, and as an added bonus, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge -- who scored 24 points in this game while defending Jordan -- will join Brian Scalabrine to provide real-time commentary throughout the game.

Other reasons to watch:

- A vintage performance from Celtics star Larry Bird, who scored a team-high 36 points to go along with 12 rebounds and eight assists.

- The 1980s Celtics at their peak: Bird, Ainge, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson and Bill Walton all scored double figures.

- Jordan hitting two free throws in the final seconds of regulation to force the first overtime.

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NBA Rumors: Execs expect Gordon Hayward to opt in to $34 million Celtics contract

NBA Rumors: Execs expect Gordon Hayward to opt in to $34 million Celtics contract

Gordon Hayward was enjoying his best season as a Boston Celtic before the 2019-20 season came to a screeching halt due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Through 45 games, the 30-year-old forward was averaging 17.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists while shooting 59.3 percent from the field. Hayward's performance was setting himself up for a solid contract if he were to opt out of his contract and hit free agency this summer.

That scenario doesn't appear likely, however.

According to Heavy.com, NBA executives expect Hayward to exercise his $34 million player option.

'It’s too much money to pass up,' one general manager told Heavy.com. 'He could get a longer deal if that is what he really wants. But I don’t think the Celtics want to give it to him, they have a lot of young guys to pay and the starting (salary) number on whatever the contract is will not be close to $34 million. He can opt in this year and then take a big contract next year. When you look at what he has done since his injury, he has only gotten better. He could get better next year and be ready for the summer of 2021.'

That doesn't exactly come as a surprise. Hayward may get a nice contract if he were to hit the open market this year, but it certainly wouldn't be anywhere near that eye-popping $34 million figure.

It makes far more sense for Hayward to take his money and test the market in 2021 if he and the Celtics don't agree on an extension before then. The 2021 free agent class will be much deeper, and teams will have more cap space to give Hayward a sizable long-term deal. That is, if he can duplicate the kind of success he's enjoyed so far this season.