Russo teed off on the Nets‘ mercurial star Wednesday during his weekly residency on ESPN’s First Take. Irving’s latest controversy — he was fined $50,000 by the NBA after jousting with Celtics fans and flipping them the bird during the Nets’ Game 1 loss at Boston in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs — has drawn the Dog’s ire.
“I’m just tired of Kyrie. There’s always something with Kyrie,” Russo said. “There’s the Jan. 6 thing at the Capitol, he’s got to take the week off. There’s a kid’s birthday party, got to miss the road trip. Can’t take a shot because of the vaccination, the world is flat. There’s always something and I’m so tired of it. Go shut up and play the game for crying out loud.”
Russo also said Irving considers himself “America’s most interesting American” during an entertaining side riff on how Irving should look into the abuse Hall of Famer Bill Russell took from Boston fans while playing for the Celtics.
Stephen A. Smith mostly agreed with Russo, but made a counterpoint: Irving’s back-and-forth with the Celtics fans and his strong performance so far this postseason is proof he is finally fully engaged like everyone has demanded he be.
“I’m going to give him a medal because he decided to play in a playoff game?” an exasperated Russo said.
Irving had little remorse for his postgame actions. “Embrace it. It’s the dark side. Embrace it,” he said during a press conference after scoring 39 points in the Nets’ 115-114 loss at TD Bank Garden. Game 2 is Wednesday night in Boston.
“I’ve got Brooklyn winning tonight,” Smith said, “and the series.”
Russo is sticking with the Celtics.
“The Nets are about a lot of bad karma,” he said. “They had bad karma last year, the (James) Harden thing. They’ve got bad karma again.”