Nets’ Kyrie Irving middle finger hugged “Dark Side.”

BOSTON — After Kyrie Irving responded to hours of profane chanting from Celtics fans by fingering them multiple times in Game 1 on Sunday, he called it the dark side.

It remains to be seen if the NBA will fine Darth Kyrie.

The league announced no fines for Irving Monday. But after the Nets guard gave a group of fans the finger, followed by a subtle double-finger salute behind his head and fired back a profane response at another going into half-time, there’s a chance he might also be for this from the league office overhears interactions or swearing in his post-game press conference.

“It is what it is. I don’t really focus on it. It’s fun. But where I’m from, I’ve been through so much, it’s nice to come here as a competitor,” said Irving.

“It’s not my first time in TD Garden, so what you guys have seen and what you think is entertainment or what fans think is entertainment, it’s all fair competition. So if someone calls me by my name, I’ll look them straight in the eye and see if they really mean business. Most of the time they are not.”

First Round of the NBA Play Offs, Game 1 - Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving #11 reacts on court
Kyrie Irving loved the atmosphere of Game 1 in Boston.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Irving’s controversial relationship with Boston fans is well documented, although he refused to have them defined as “hostile” after the game.

“We know they will show up and support their team. But we know they’re going to let Kyrie listen to it as much as possible,” said Kevin Durant. “So it is what it is; that’s part of the sport.”

With the nets up one with 15 seconds to go, Durant missed a potential Dolch 3 pointer. And while the miss goes down Durant’s stats line, the Celtics know Irving was partly to blame for the game. He was white hot but didn’t give up the ball and was caught by Marcus Smart and Al Horford in a doubles team.

Irving eventually passed Durant while the shot clock was running down.

“For me, he didn’t want to go off the ball. He kept trying to use all his opportunities, getting stuck and being faked,” said Ime Udoka. “In this Durant game, we want to get the others to hit us, obviously not Durant; and [Jayson Tatum] was there and fought well. So it wasn’t like it was swing-swing and wide open for Durant. Like I said, he didn’t really want to go off the ball. Luckily, JT was on Durant and contested it well.

Durant’s 23 points gave him an all-time 4,477 points in the playoffs and propelled him past Jerry West (4,457 points) to eighth on the NBA all-time list. Next is Karl Malone with 4,761.

Irving’s 39 points was the second-highest in Game 1 of a first-round series in Nets playoff history. The record is 40 by the late Drazen Petrovic on April 23, 1992 in Cleveland.

Game 2 is Wednesday at 7 p.m. on TNT. Game 3 is Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN.

Celtics guard Marcus Smart won the 2021-22 NBA Defensive Player of the Year award. Nets’ Kyrie Irving middle finger hugged “Dark Side.”


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