'Coward': Nets' Kyrie Irving Taking Heat For Missing Game Against Celtics

Alex Greenberg
November 27, 2019 - 3:01 pm

The Nets are in Boston on Wednesday night, but they’ll be facing the Celtics without their best player.

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Kyrie Irving isn't available to play against his old team as he is still dealing with impingement in his right shoulder that has kept him out for the last six games. It’s safe to say he wouldn’t have received a friendly welcome from the crowd had he been healthy enough to suit up.

Irving won’t be at the TD Garden for the tilt between division rivals, according to The Athletic’s Joe Vardon, but there will be plenty of furor aimed in his direction anyway. Signs calling Irving a “coward” were spotted outside the arena in Boston on the day of the game.  

Irving is not a popular person in New England after he left the Celtics this summer to join the Nets as a free agent. His decision to leave came after a season full of drama for the underperforming Celtics, and it came after he had told fans at an event back in October of 2018 that he planned on re-signing with Boston at the end of the campaign.

The point guard’s decision to go back on that statement was significantly affected by his desire to play with Kevin Durant, who he is close with, but Durant is out for the entirety of this season as he recovers from a ruptured Achilles injury that he sustained with the Warriors in Game 5 of June’s NBA Finals.

Oct 25, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving (11) controls the ball against the New York Knicks during the fourth quarter at Barclays Center
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Brooklyn has now won four games in a row without Irving, but the team had made a disappointing start to the year before those victories. Meanwhile, the Celtics seem to be buoyed by Irving’s departure. The chemistry in Boston’s locker room is clearly much better, and Brad Stevens’ team is 12-4 and tied for the third-best record in the league.

For his part, Stevens told reporters Wednesday that he "enjoyed" Irving during his time in Boston.

It’s unclear if Irving will be healthy enough to play when the two teams head to New York to play in Brooklyn on Friday afternoon.