Kyrie Irving’s return to TD Garden is less than one week away, but skepticism is beginning to build as to whether or not the point guard will play as he continues to deal with a shoulder injury.
Paul Pierce, now an NBA analyst for ESPN, joined “NBA Countdown” on Friday to discuss Irving’s return to his former home of two years, and “The Truth” made it very clear how he thinks the All-Star guard will be received, if he does play.
“This is Boston, folks,” Pierce said. “When you tell these fans, ‘Hey, I’m going to re-sign. I’ll be back, I’m here for the long run.’ And then you turn around and leave a sour taste in the organization’s lap and fans — this is going to be one of the loudest boos in league history.
“This has never happened, a player of his caliber saying, ‘I’ll be back,’ and then leave,” Pierce added. “This has never happened. When has that happened with a player of his caliber? It’s never happened. He deserves it.”
Pierce played 15 seasons in Boston, so it’s fair to say he’s pretty familiar with Celtics fans. Now whether Irving suits up, let alone makes the trip, is a completely separate question.
Irving will miss his fourth consecutive game Friday when the Brooklyn Nets take on the Sacramento Kings. Head coach Kenny Atkinson has said he wants Irving to practice at least once before returning to the court, and that has yet to happen since playing through the injury on Nov. 14 in Denver.
Through 11 games, Irving is averaging 28.5 points, 7.2 assists and 5.4 rebounds, but the Nets are off to a disappointing 6-8 start.
Tip-off for the Nets and Celtics Thanksgiving Eve showdown is set for 7 p.m. ET.
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