Ainge: Celtics Fans Shouldn't Boo Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving is Public Enemy No. 1 in the eyes of many Boston Celtics fans. But his former boss continues to be diplomatic.

The Celtics host the Brooklyn Nets at TD Garden next Wednesday in what will be Irving's first game back in Boston (assuming he shows up) since his acrimonious departure last summer.

Most star players would receive a tribute video from their former team in this situation, but it's a trickier situation with Irving considering the bridges he reportedly burned in Boston.

During an interview Thursday morning on 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Toucher & Rich," though, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he'd be perfectly fine with TD Garden giving Irving a tribute video.

"Sure. Why not?" Ainge said.

Ainge clarified it's not his call to decide whether Irving gets a tribute video, then insisted Celtics fans are too harsh on the All-Star point guard.

"It was a very good situation with Kyrie," Ainge said. "Kyrie was in a good place, and things were looking good for a year and a half and they went sour.

"... He gets blamed for a lot of the sour of last year, and I just think it's much, much bigger than that. So, I don't have any grudges against Kyrie. I'm grateful that he gave us a chance and it didn't work out. It wasn't his fault things didn't work out. It was a lot of people's fault, including my own."

Irving likely will be booed heartily in Boston, where C's fans haven't forgotten him reneging on a preseason promise to sign with the Celtics long-term before bolting to play with Kevin Durant in Brooklyn.

But Ainge said he's not on board with such a reaction.

"I think that's a sad commentary," Ainge said. "But I understand it just because I know there's been a lot of negative attention."

"I understand all that. I just think it's a bad conclusion to come to. It's not really fair."

Ainge won't make Celtics fans very happy by defending one of their biggest villains, but he's been consistent in taking the high road on Irving's Boston exit.


Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Nuggets, which tips off Friday at 8 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 9 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.

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