Celtics players need not hate Kyrie, but must avoid friendship trap through NBA Finals

When Boston sports fans feel wronged by one of their former stars, it takes a lot for us to get over it. Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, Johnny Damon, Ray Allen, the list goes on. The most recent addition to the club was Kyrie Irving who famously told a Celtics crowd he wanted to remain a Celtic for his career and then just a few months later was plotting his exit to New York with Kevin Durant.

After a brutal playoffs, Kyrie left and he's been an enemy of Boston since. After saying he never experienced racism in Boston either as a Cavs player or a Celtic, his accusations towards Boston fans in Brooklyn didn't help put things behind him as he claimed multiple times he wanted. The stomping on Lucky didn't help either.

While the "F#ck Kyrie" chants are juvenile and not up to the creative level of taunting that has often given Boston teams a sweet home court (or field) advantage, we are also living in a different era where a portion of fans don't want you to say anything mean at all to a rival like Kyrie or LeBron James. This is not the 80's, 90's, 00's, or even most of the 10's.

So you will hear some Celtics fans (short for fanatics of course) go overboard with their hate for Kyrie these next few weeks, while other Celtics fans will admonish anyone that treats him like a rival. A unique dichotomy for sure.

All this stuff written above will be fodder for the media who's been itching to ask Irving again about his feelings about Boston. Starting to tomorrow they will run to ask Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum for their feelings about Kyrie. Don't expect either of the Jay's to say a bad word about their former teammate. They both like Kyrie and Jaylen especially has always looked up to Irving as a mentor.

Tatum and Brown will say the right things about how when the games start Irving will be their adversary like all the Mavs players will be, but what's important is for them not just to say the right thing, but to legitimately act that way.

Michael Jordan was long rumored to use his friendship with other stars to get them to take it a bit easier on him on the court. This was in contrast to the Pistons players who he wasn't friends with and who would play hi extremely physically. Jordan just wanted to win. Same with Larry Bird, Isiah Thomas, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Garnett.

Tatum and Brown don't need to hate Irving, or even dislike him during these NBA Finals. But if they want to be champions they need to treat him the same as they'd treat any other top 2 player on their opponent's team in a playoff series. Irving looks at this series as a chess match and has already said as much.

The Celtics All-Stars need to avoid becoming pawns in this chess match by treating Irving as less of a rival than Luka Doncic. After the NBA Finals Jayson and Jaylen can go back to loving Irving, but for these next few weeks he must be an enemy to them.