Boston Celtics fans probably will boo Kyrie Irving and Rick Pitino until the end of time.
The Athletic on Thursday published results of a Celtics fans survey, in which roughly 800 fans voted the former Boston point guard and ex-head coach as their least favorite player and coach ever, respectively. Irving drew Boston fans’ ire when by stating his desire to re-sign with the Celtics then performing an about-face and leaving for the Brooklyn Nets last summer in free agency. The sour taste Irving left behind undoubtedly was among the main reason why 36.7 percent of the voters chose him ahead of second-place Antoine Walker (6.5 percent), third-place Sidney Wicks (4.3 percent) and fourth-place Vin Baker in the “least-favorite player” question.
“Surprise, surprise. The Kyrie Irving hate has not subsided in Celtics Nation,” The Athletic’s Jay King and Jared Weiss wrote. “He was far and away your ‘winner,’ with Antoine Walker and Vin Baker finishing as distant runners up. Irving was polarizing while he was in town and was at the epicenter of the unforgettably forgettable calamity that was the 2018-19 season. It was nice to see Ray Allen nowhere near the top of this list. The guy deserves a break from the hate emanating from Celtics Nation.
The Celtics appointed Pitino as head coach, general manager and team president in 1997. By the time he left town in 2001, with a 102–146 record and exactly zero appearances in the NBA playoffs in tow, most fans were happy to see him go.
“Could there ever be any doubt? Rick Pitino was a monumental hire and a spectacular failure,” King and Weiss wrote. “The stories about how his authoritative college coaching style fell flat are endless. His stint in Boston helped establish the stereotype that college coaches couldn’t succeed making the leap to the NBA. (Current Celtics coach Brad) Stevens ironically broke that mold. Pitino’s lasting legacy is a condescending speech that broke the fan base’s faith in him. That’s a good way to earn yourself a lifetime of scorn from Celtics fans.”
One day someone might overtake Irving and Pitino among players and coaches Celtics fans love to hate. Doing so will be the toughest of tasks.