The boos were already set to rain down on Kyrie Irving during his Celtics debut in Cleveland on Tuesday, but the former Cavs guard just ensured they’ll be even louder.
Irving, the All-Star who had his public breakup with the Cavs made official with an August trade to Boston, took a blatant shot at Cleveland on Wednesday when comparing it to his new city.
“Boston, I’m driving in and (thinking), ‘I’m really playing in a real, live sports city?’” Irving said, according to The Charlotte Observer.
The jab doesn’t really inspire a forgive-and-forget attitude from a Cleveland fan base still reeling from the Indians’ stinging defeat to the Yankees in the ALDS.
But even with his desire to get out of LeBron James’ shadow — and the ugly split that followed — Irving has given the city plenty to cheer for.
In his six seasons in Cleveland, he earned a Rookie of the Year award, made four All-Star teams and helped James deliver the Cavs to three straight NBA Finals. Irving’s last-minute three-pointer in Game 7 of the 2016 Finals lifted the team to its first title and the city’s first championship in 52 years.
But the 25-year-old, who grew up in West Orange, N.J., said he’s glad to be back on the East Coast and somewhere that’s not as mundane as his old stomping ground.
“It’s fast-paced. A lot of different cultures, food and people. You get it all, especially in Boston,” Irving said. “You would go to Cleveland, and it would be at nighttime, and things would be going on, but you just see a vast difference.”
Things will certainly be going on at Quicken Loans Arena Tuesday night. And when Irving walks onto the court in his Celtics jersey, he’ll look around and see exactly how much has changed.