Boston Celtics

A timeline of Kyrie's tumultuous C's tenure and what's happened since

We can expect TD Garden to erupt with boos when Irving takes the court on Thursday.


The Boston Celtics' quest for Banner 18 is set up for a poetic ending.

Boston will take on the Dallas Mavericks in the 2024 NBA Finals starting with Game 1 Thursday night at TD Garden. That means for the C's to get over the hump and win the NBA championship, they'll have to get through one of the most vilified players in recent Boston sports history: Kyrie Irving.

Irving played for the Celtics from 2017 to 2019. Although he was his usual All-Star self on the court, his tenure was marred by questionable comments and actions off of it. His relationship with C's fans became broken beyond repair when he signed with the Brooklyn Nets just months after announcing his intention to re-sign with Boston.

Since then, fans have greeted Irving at TD Garden with loud boos and words that shouldn't be repeated. Three years ago, a fan threw a water bottle at Irving's head as he exited the court.

Hopefully we won't have another disgraceful moment like that during the Finals, but the boos and R-rated language will be unavoidable whenever Irving is the center of attention in Boston. This series will reopen old wounds for Boston fans who felt betrayed by Irving's actions.

For a refresher ahead of Game 1, here's a full timeline of Irving's rollercoaster Celtics tenure and what's happened since:

August 22, 2017: The Celtics acquire Irving in a blockbuster deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Then-C's president Danny Ainge jumped at the opportunity to pair offseason addition Gordon Hayward with a superstar. He parted ways with All-Star and fan favorite Isaiah Thomas to add Irving in hopes the immensely-talented point guard could help Boston get over the hump and hang Banner 18.

The full trade: Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and Brooklyn's 2018 unprotected first-round pick for Irving.

June 12, 2018: Entering the final season of his contract, Irving is asked whether he'll sign an extension with the Celtics before the 2018-19 season.

"Contractually, financially, it just doesn’t make any sense," Irving said. "I’m pretty sure management and I will have a talk, but that talk won’t happen now."

October 4, 2018: Irving tells C's fans at TD Garden he plans on re-signing with Boston.

Irving made the statement during a question-and-answer session with season ticket holders.

"I shared it with some of my teammates as well as the organization and everyone else in Boston: If you guys will have me back, I plan on re-signing here next year," he said.

October 5, 2018: Irving explains his surprise announcement to the media.

"I have every intention of signing with Boston next year," he said. "I do have a dream of putting my No. 11 in the rafters one day if I'm so blessed to do that. I've worked my tail off, obviously a lot of great players have come before me, but to throw my name in Boston Celtics tradition and history is something I'm glad I can do. And I'm planning on doing so."

" ... Honestly, thinking about starting over was just a s---ty thought. Honestly. It just was like, man, I do not want to move again. I do not want to uproot my family and just be dealing with everything new again. No disrespect to any other organizations, but here was a perfect fit."

October 5, 2018: Following a game against the Knicks in New York, Irving confirms he considered requesting a trade to his hometown team before joining Boston.

"Every team was under consideration. But obviously New York held a special place for me, being from Jersey and obviously envisioning myself as a free agent, and ultimately taking a meeting, playing for Fiz [coach David Fizdale], and the great young core they have, thinking about playing here," he said.

"Playing with KP [Kristaps Porzingis], that was a big thing, before I made my decision to plan on re-signing back with Boston. But yeah, of course, New York was a strong consideration."

November 12, 2018: After a 1-4 road trip, Irving suggests the Celtics should add another veteran player.

"Looking at this locker room, me being in my eighth year and being a ‘veteran’ as well as Al [Horford] and [Aron] Baynes. Right now I think it would be nice if we had someone that was a 15-year vet, a 14-year vet that could kind of help us race along the regular season and understand it’s a long marathon rather than just a full-on sprint, when you want to play, when you want to do what you want to do."

January 12, 2019: Irving appears to demand more from the Celtics' young players after a road loss to the Orlando Magic.

"Experience. It’s the best thing I can say is experience," he said. "We’re lacking it and, because of that, we have a lot of learning to do. So we have a lot of ground to make up in that aspect. It gets tough. When it gets hard you’ve got to think. You’ve got to do the right things.

"You can’t gamble and think that it’s going to be the winning play. You’ve got to be able to play the full 48 minutes, no matter what’s going on, and hold your head high when you make mistakes. When your job is called upon, you’ve got to do it to the best of your ability. You’ve got to come in and make an impact for the minutes that you’re playing out there. 

"You’ve got to appreciate being out there and just competing. It doesn’t matter who you’re going against. It matters the type of preparation you have, what you’re going out and trying to accomplish. What’s the big picture? What are we doing here? These are things I don’t think some of my teammates have faced of just every single day. It’s not easy to be great."

January 16, 2019: Irving admits he called LeBron James to apologize for past disagreements and ask for leadership advice.

"I had to call Bron and tell him, I apologized for being that young player that wanted everything at his fingertips, and I wanted everything to be at my threshold," he said. "I wanted to be the guy that led us to a championship. I wanted to be the leader. I wanted to be all that and the responsibility of being the best in the world and leading your team is something that is not meant for many people.

"Bron was one of those guys that came to Cleveland and tried to show us what it’s like to win a championship. And it was hard for him and sometimes getting the most out of the group is not the easiest thing in the world.

" ... So, I think what that brought me back to was like, all right, how do I get the best out of this group to the success they had last year and then helping them realize what it takes to win a championship?"

February 1, 2019: Irving appears to renege on his October promise, instead insisting he'll make the decision that's best for him.

"At the end of the day, I’m going to do what’s best for my career. I spent the last eight years trying to do what everyone else wanted me to do -- managers, other personnel -- and I don't owe anybody s---," he said.

"I still have confidence in Boston and what they can promise for the future and what we have in terms of pieces. That’s what excited me at the beginning of the season."

"... It’s my decision at the end of the day. Who cares who said what’s best for him, like, it doesn’t matter. It’s unwarranted commentary, and of course it’s going to continue throughout the season. I’m aware of that. I’m a professional, I’m not going to disrespect anybody, but like I said, it really comes down to what’s best for me and my family."

February 18, 2019: Irving appears to tell Kevin Durant, "Two max slots, it's time" during a conversation in the hallway at the NBA All-Star Game.

With his contract expiring, and rumors of his desire to leave Boston circulating, Irving was caught seemingly trying to form a plan to team up with Durant in the offseason.

June 30, 2019: Irving signs a four-year, $141 million contract to join fellow superstar Kevin Durant on the Brooklyn Nets.

After the Celtics lost in five games to the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the 2019 playoffs, Irving's rollercoaster Celtics tenure officially came to an end during the 2019 offseason after he signed with Brooklyn.

Dec. 18, 2020: Irving returns to TD Garden and burns sage around the arena before helping the Nets beat the C's.

May 30, 2021: Irving stomps on the Celtics' logo at midcourt after Brooklyn beat Boston in Game 4 of the first round in the NBA playoffs. Moments later, a fan at TD Garden is arrested after throwing a water bottle at Irving's head as the ex-Celtic leaves the court.

April 20, 2022: Irving heaps praise on the Celtics after they take a 2-0 first-round series lead over the Nets at TD Garden. Boston goes on to sweep Irving's Brooklyn squad and advances to the NBA Finals.

"I'm not surprised at all," Irving said. "I just think the timing is right. Their window is now for these young guys that are on this team that have matured. They've been through series together, they've been through seasons together, they've been through battles together."

Feb. 6, 2023: The Nets trade Irving to the Dallas Mavericks.

Days later, Brooklyn traded Durant to the Phoenix Suns.

June 30, 2023: Irving re-signs with the Mavs on a three-year, $126 million deal.

Irving chose to stay in Dallas after exploring his options in free agency.

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