There are few active athletes more reviled in the greater New England region than Kyrie Irving. It is in part justified; Irving declared his intention to re-sign with the Boston Celtics, in public, eight months before he needed to make any decision, before going back on his word and going to Brooklyn instead to team up with Kevin Durant. The fans felt insulted and everything got blown out of proportion, as these things do.
Then Kyrie stomped on the Celtics' logo during Brooklyn's gentlemen's sweep of Boston last season. That turned him from an antagonist to a villain in the eyes of the Boston faithful. Worse things have occurred at TD Garden but Kyrie didn't have to do that and he did just to piss people off. He embraced the dark side.
Now the Nets are on the other side of the bracket. They tip off today against the two-seeded Celtics as underdogs despite the presence of Kyrie and KD. Boston is missing Robert Williams but otherwise will be trotting out the same lineups that led them to a dominant post-All-Star Break record. The Nets have an uphill battle ahead of them to avoid a disappointing early-playoff exit, and it also presents an opportunity for Kyrie to level up.
The Nets knocked Boston out of the playoffs last year, but it didn't sting too much for the Celtics because they were so injury-plagued. If Kyrie goes Super Saiyan for the duration of the series and helps lead Brooklyn to an upset... Nobody will be more hated in Boston. No athlete more despised.
It would be tremendous content. Kyrie has his opportunity. It's time to see if he'll deliver or if the Celtics were excise their demons.