Tuesday night in Cleveland is going to be a mixed bag of emotions. Basketball’s officially starting and there will be action at 6th and Huron St. till mid-June. But at the same time, an ex from the past is returning to make his debut in a different jersey.
It’s always awkward when you meet an ex for the first time after a breakup. Both parties have poured their heart and soul into the relationship, but it’s over now and in the past. Cavaliers’ fans devoted all of their love towards Kyrie Irving and he played his heart out for his time here in Cleveland, but how should the fans react on Tuesday?
If you asked me eight weeks ago, when the trade became official, I would’ve said that Cleveland fans should celebrate Irving’s time with the team, honor him before the game and show him the love he deserves for hitting the franchise’s biggest shot in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
Yet, Irving began to quietly take shots in the media about Cleveland — the basketball team and the city.
When the Celtics’ point guard spoke with Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe, he had this to say about Boston and Cleveland.
It’s a really major city. Coming from Cleveland, the Midwest, where the culture is different. And then you move to the East Coast — into Boston — and it’s so real [and] alive. An ongoing, thriving city. Consistently. No matter what hour throughout the night.
You would go to Cleveland, and it would be at nighttime, and things would be going on, but you just see a vast difference in terms of what the Midwest is — Cleveland — and what Boston is. Boston, I’m driving in and [thinking], ‘I’m really playing in a real, live sports city?’ And a great city.It’s a really major city. Coming from Cleveland, the Midwest, where the culture is different. And then you move to the East Coast — into Boston — and it’s so real [and] alive. An ongoing, thriving city. Consistently. No matter what hour throughout the night.
Irving didn’t also hesitate to take a slight dig at the Cavaliers. When Jalen Rose asked the new Celtic about the difference between the two teams, his response was short and sweet: “ball movement.”
So what is the ex-Cavs’ point guard trying to accomplish by taking all these shots at Cleveland? Simple, he’s trying to provoke the fans in Cleveland ahead of the season opener, so he can try and get booed before the game starts.
Irving’s biggest inspiration is Kobe Bryant, so it makes total sense that Irving wants to play in a hostile environment, where he can invoke a chip on his shoulder. It’s that cold, killer mentality that helped seal the deal in the NBA Finals.
I think the fans that head to the game on Tuesday night shouldn’t fall for any of Irving’s antics from the past few weeks. They should respect what he’s done for the franchise since joining them in 2011 and once the ball’s been tipped, Irving’s a Celtic and they should boo him like any other opponent.
Irving’s return to Cleveland is different than most stars going back to their former home. When Kevin Durant went back to Oklahoma City, he hadn’t won a championship with the Thunder. When LeBron James came back to Cleveland in 2011, he hadn’t delivered the Cavaliers a title.
But Irving’s coming back to Cleveland with a ring on his finger — a championship that ended a 52-year drought for the Northeast Ohio region. Cleveland doesn’t win that championship without him and the fans should honor him on Tuesday night before the game.
The Cavaliers will play a video tribute for Irving and the fans should show their appreciation for everything No. 2 has done in wine and gold. But once the game starts, all bets are off.