Did Kyrie Irving Flip Script On Celtics Fans? Skip Bayless Explains

Bayless didn't have a problem with Irving's Game 1 antics


April 18

Kyrie Irving said before Game 1 of the Nets’ first-round playoff series against the Celtics that he didn’t intend to pay attention to the “extra noise” surrounding his return to Boston.

Clearly, his stance changed.

Irving not only paid attention to the heckling Sunday at TD Garden. He proactively fed into it, flipping off the Boston crowd and even shouting an obscenity at a fan as he returned to the locker room.

“Of all the athletes I’ve ever closely observed, no athlete marches to the beat of his own drummer — a different drummer — the way that Kyrie Irving does,” Skip Bayless said on Monday’s episode of “Undisputed” on FS1. “He wants to shatter every mold, in and out of basketball. He wants to change the world. This was a revolutionary approach to rabbit ears. This is Kyrie flipping the script on the fans and saying, ‘Hey, I’m going to have the same energy. I’m going to go back at you just as hard as you come at me. I will respond in kind.’ “

Flipping the script? Sure, that’s one way to put it.

Or, it could just be the latest instance of Irving being wildly inconsistent with just about everything that comes out of his mouth. Kinda like that time he said he was going to re-sign with the Celtics so long as Boston would welcome him back.

Anyway, Irving was excellent Sunday despite Boston’s 115-114 win. He put the Nets on his back, seemingly using the drama to his advantage, and had Brooklyn positioned to steal a series-opening victory until Jayson Tatum’s buzzer-beater sent TD Garden into a frenzy.

“I must admit, having watched this so closely for so long, these players are sick and tired of the verbal abuse that they’re forced to just live with, just suck up and swallow,” Bayless said. ” … Now, it feels like the fans feel more empowered than ever, because they see the players getting fined and oftentimes they see that they’re having an impact on the game. Well, this was the first time I can recall when they had a negative impact on the game. Because the more they heckled, the more they cursed, the more shots he made. He scored 18 points in the fourth quarter and very nearly stole this game right out from under them, because it appeared that Kyrie was actually feeding off their vitriol. He was fueled by the fans’ fire.

“So, again, they’re trying to get even with him, and in fact he turned the tables and said, ‘I’m going to embrace — what he called — the dark side. I’m going to embrace it and I’m going to use it for my fuel.’ Well, that was a beautiful thing to watch, because I don’t really recall that ever happening quite to that extent. So, when you ask do I have a problem with this? I don’t.”

Of course, Irving firing back at Celtics fans the way he did Sunday only adds to the intrigue surrounding the playoff series, which features two teams with NBA Finals aspirations. It’s fair to assume TD Garden will be rocking Wednesday night and that Irving will be on the receiving end of more heckling in Game 2.

“Again, I’m not advocating violence in return. I’m not advocating crossing the line and saying, ‘If you want to go, let’s go right here,’ because obviously Kyrie’s smarter than that,” Bayless said. “But he is sending a powerful message back to the fans through his postgame remarks: ‘I’m just not going to take it from you.’

“Now, will that escalate it when they play (Game 2)? You better believe it will. And yet will that continue to fuel Kyrie even more than ever? It might. And the more shots he makes, the quieter it will get at Boston Garden.”

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