kyrie irving
Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Kyrie Irving is making his return to Boston to play against his former team and he’s already prepping for a hostile welcome.

The Brooklyn Nets are putting a beatdown on the Boston Celtics in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, but it’s time for the series to head back to Beantown for Game 3 on Friday. Of course, this will be Kyrie Irving‘s first appearance in front of a Boston crowd since spurning the Celtics for the Nets in free agency.

“It’s not my first time being an opponent in Boston,” Irving said. “I’m just looking forward to competing with my teammates and hopefully we could just keep it strictly basketball. There’s no belligerence or any racism going on, subtle racism or people yelling s— from the crowd. But even if it is, it’s part of the nature of the game and we’re going to focus on what we can control.”

ESPN’s Rachel Nichols asked Irving if racism in Boston is something he’s experienced before and Irving began to answer before cutting himself off to say, “It is what it is.”

It also sounds like Kevin Durant could be heard off-camera saying, “The whole world knows.”

Last year, Irving missed Brooklyn’s games in Boston, but the fans didn’t seem to mind. The TD Garden crowd was all over Irving even though he didn’t make the trip for what would have been his return. We can expect that raucous Boston crowd to key in on the mercurial star once again.

Heckling a rival player is well within bounds when it comes to the NBA, but racism can’t be tolerated. Hopefully, Game 3 features some good-natured back-and-forth between Kyrie and the Boston crowd and nothing else. The Nets carry a 2-0 series lead.