Kyrie fined 25K for profane outburst with no regrets
Kyrie Irving, as expected, has been fined $25,000 for his profane outburst directed at a 76'ers fan who had taunted him. When the Celtics left the court Friday night in Philly and headed to the locker room at half-time, a Sixers fan yelled "Where's Lebron ?". Irving apparently yelled back, "Suck my d---." The video of the fan's taunt and Kyrie's response is found below:
We all know that these taunts by fans of opposing teams are common, and they are often met with profanities, obscenities and even physical violence. Irving's flat-earth comments were meant to get our attention and were playful. This outburst got our attention but was far from playful. The analysis of the incident and subsequent interview of Kyrie is via ESPN's Chris Forsberg:
Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving took responsibility for a profane outburst directed at a fan in Philadelphia that yelled at him and referenced LeBron James during Friday's game against the 76ers.
In a video that circulated on social media after Friday's game, a fan is heard shouting, "Kyrie, where's LeBron?" as Celtics players walked down their tunnel to the visitor's locker room at halftime. Irving appears to look up towards the fan before offering a profane response.
Irving said he talked to the league office about his outburst on Saturday but was waiting to hear if he'd be fined. Asked if he had any regrets about the incident, Irving was emphatic he did not.
"At the end of the day, we're human. It's in heat of the moment and frustrations arise, we were at halftime, we were down by 4, in an environment, a season-opener in Philly. Being with a young team like we have here and staying composed, handling that before we go in the locker room and addressing what we have to do in the locker room and going out and handling business and getting the W, that's really the only thing that matters to me.
Asked what he would say to Irving, (Brad) Stevens responded, "You guys know what the right thing to do is. People make mistakes, hopefully they learn from them. There's a right and wrong, and if you're in the wrong, you have to own up to it."
Can you picture Brad Stevens or Al Horford reacting the same way to another team's fans? I can't. Kyrie is the best player on the team. The team needs him to be a leader on the court and exert control away from it. We won the game, sloppy as it was. We didn't need this. The question regarding the next Celtics Captain is still up in the air, and I doubt this helps Kyrie's chances.
This opinion may seem like an outdated stance, but the pro, in pro basketball means professional. Red Auerbach was booed, berated and a target for peanut-tossing fans in the rival stadiums he called "hostile territory". "A lot of people feel a ticket gives them a license to berate you." is a quote from Red via SI's Gilbert Rogin. He exploded on occasion, but coaches have it particularly tough. They can't run off anger or frustration on the court like their players can. For the abuse he endured, Auerbach handled himself well. However, he did tend to lose it when he leveled St. Louis Hawks owner Ben Kerner, but Red only picked up a $300 fine for "unbecoming conduct".
I feel terrible for Brad Stevens because of the Kyrie incident. This is not what he teaches his players. Kyrie's response to the Philly fan was crude. There are quick, clever responses to taunts that would have no repercussions. Irving has the intellect to prepare himself for the next time. That would be professional.
If Boston meets Cleveland in the playoffs this season or next, the pressure on Kyrie will be turned up. When you put playoff tension together with "hostile territory", alcohol, taunts and boos, there needs to be control or a critical suspension may happen. Or even worse, a repeat of the Malice at the Palace (Auburn Hills, Michigan) where a fan, and over reaction by Indiana Pacer Ron Artest, caused a fracas that spawned fines, suspensions and court cases.
The words in Memphis that got DeMarcus Cousins fined were directed at a woman. Reportedly, he said to her, “F-ck you, b-tch.” https://t.co/d9Z7I7oPgn
Kyrie is not in good company here. Both DeMarcus Cousins, also fined $25,000, and Irving are super-talented, but Cousins has a well-deserved reputation for hurting himself and his team by his talk and actions. Because of that, he will never be The Man in New Orleans or anywhere else. Talent paired with mental and physical toughness wins games. Yelling obscenities at taunting fans does not.