Kyrie Irving Beats Them. Knicks Fans Want Him To Join Them.
Kyrie Irving heard the “We want Kyrie! We want Kyrie!” chants that echoed through Madison Square Garden on Friday night. He seemed more annoyed than flattered.
“It’s nothing but a distraction at this point,” he said.
Irving and the Boston Celtics handled it as easily as they handled the overmatched Knicks, winning, 113-99, on Friday night. It was the 12th straight loss for the Knicks and their first game since trading Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas.
Irving had 23 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists before a crowd eager to start the free-agent wooing five months early.
The blockbuster trade to the Mavericks gave the Knicks money to chase two top free agents this summer, and fans showed Irving that they want him to be one of them, cheering him before and during his return from a two-game absence with a hip injury.
Irving is one of the headline names in the potential 2019 free-agent class, and though he said at a Celtics fan event last fall that he intended to re-sign, that may be no guarantee. He told reporters at the morning shootaround to “Ask me July 1” if his plans had changed.
Discouraged earlier this season by the play of some of his younger teammates, Irving is now frustrated with the off-court talk, with the trade deadline less than a week away and his name being tied to the future of Anthony Davis as he seeks a trade from New Orleans.
So Irving, a former New Jersey high school star, figured it would be a scene when he was back in the area.
“Like I said, I’m appreciative of the fan support I get in any arena, but of course coming back home,” he said. “Obviously what’s going on in terms of that noise and commentary is just a bunch of nonsense right now. Can’t do anything about it so I’m just accepting. I’m appreciative, but at the same time, I’ve got a game to focus on.”
Marcus Morris added 18 points for the Celtics, who won for the eighth time in nine games and remain supportive of Irving.
“He’s a guy that’s very polarizing in the N.B.A. and the world,” Morris said, “so everything he says, even if it’s not really that serious, it’s going to be taken out of proportion. But like I said, he still comes in, he’s a professional. We all love him, we all want him here.”
Damyean Dotson scored 22 points and Kevin Knox had 21 for the Knicks, who dealt Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee and Trey Burke to Dallas with the injured Porzingis. They acquired getting Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews in return, and two future first-round picks.
The new players were not available, so the Knicks started with Dotson and Kadeem Allen in the backcourt.
The short-handed lineup hung around into the fourth quarter before opening February with a loss after going a combined 3-24 in December and January.
Knicks Coach David Fizdale, whose team fell to 10-41, said of the cheers for Irving: “You know, I am on a whole other planet when it comes to that stuff. I am just constantly into how do I help these guys win the next play, how do I get them past the last play?”
NETS’ RUSSELL AN ALL-STAR Nets guard D’Angelo Russell was selected for the N.B.A. All-Star Game, Commissioner Adam Silver announced.
Russell, the Nets’ first All-Star since Joe Johnson in the 2013-14 season, was named as an injury replacement for Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo. It is the first All-Star honor for Russell, who is in his fourth season. He has averaged 19.6 points, 6.4 assists and 3.8 rebounds a game this season.
Silver also announced that Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks and Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat had been added for the game, which will take place Feb. 17 in Charlotte, N.C.
It will be the 14th All-Star appearance for Nowitzki, who is probably playing his final season, and the 13th for Wade, who is retiring at season’s end.
(FIELD LEVEL MEDIA)