Kyrie Irving will return to Boston this Friday to play in front of a TD Garden crowd for the first time since leaving the Celtics in free agency.
After the Brooklyn Nets' Game 2 win over the C's Tuesday night, Irving was asked about his anticipated return and had some interesting comments.
“It's not my first time being an opponent in Boston, so I'm just looking forward to competing with my teammates and 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," Irving said. "But even if it is, that's just the nature of the game and we're just gonna focus on what we can control."
Irving then was asked whether he experienced racism in Boston before.
"I'm not the only one who can attest to this but ... [puts hands up and laughs] ... it is what is," he answered.
Irving isn't the first athlete to speak out on Boston fans making racist remarks. Adam Jones, as an outfielder for the Baltimore Orioles, brought the issue to the forefront in 2017. Former MLB outfielder Torii Hunter also said he experienced racism that led him to including a no-trade clause to Boston.
On Celtics Postgame Live, Kendrick Perkins shared his thoughts on what Irving had to say.
"Celtics fans are some of the best fans in the world. I played there for eight-and-a-half years. I lived there for eight-and-a-half years. And me personally, I never dealt with any type of racism while I was living in Boston," Perkins said. "That's just me personally. I never dealt with it. I also came back as an opponent of the Celtics. I played there with the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Cleveland Cavaliers and still never experienced any racism."
"It's always extra with [Kyrie]. I don't even know why we're surprised by this comment," he added. "Just think about it, in New York the other night fans were chanting 'F Trae Young.' That don't mean that they're racist, that's just, they're ruthless. They're just cheering on their team. But do we expect anything less than Kyrie to be extra about something?"
Game 3 between the Celtics and Nets is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET on Friday night. TD Garden will be limited to 25 percent capacity for Game 3 and will be back to almost 100 percent for Game 4 on Sunday.