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The NBA hit Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving with a $50,000 fine Tuesday for making obscene gestures to the crowd during his team’s game-one playoff loss against the Boston Celtics, which the controversy-prone Nets star said he only did in response to taunts from Boston’s fans.
Irving was seen on multiple occasions giving the middle finger to Celtics fans, and the NBA also said in a statement Irving directed “profane language toward the spectator stands.”
Irving said in a news conference after the game he just wanted to give Celtics fans the “same energy” they were showing him, claiming people were “yelling p—-y, b—-h and f—k you and all that” at him throughout the contest.
The Celtics defeated the Nets 115-114 on a game-winning shot from Jayson Tatum to capture game one of the first round Eastern Conference best-of-seven playoff matchup.
“All is fair in competition,” Irving—who played for the Celtics until 2019—said in his defense after the game, adding he felt it was “fun” to play in what he considered a hostile environment.
Irving’s actions generated a tremendous amount of buzz in the sports world, with most commentators criticizing the Nets guard and noting numerous other players have endured similar heckling and maintained their composure. Irving is no stranger to controversy and bizarre behavior, though. He sat out most of the Nets season this year after refusing to be vaccinated against Covid-19, putting him at odds with New York City’s vaccine mandate, which has since been lifted. Irving has also peddled numerous conspiracy theories, such as claiming the CIA attempted to assassinate Jamaican reggae star Bob Marley and suggesting the earth is flat. Irving later apologized for his flat earth comments.
What To Watch For
The Celtics host the Nets in game two of the series at 7 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday.
Charles Barkley, Shaq React to Kyrie Irving’s Comments After Game 1 vs. Celtics (Sports Illustrated)