Ahead of Kyrie Irving's anticipated return to Boston on Wednesday, Celtics general manager and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he holds no hard feelings toward his former floor general.
" … He (Kyrie) gets blamed for a lot of the sour of last year, and I just think it’s much, much bigger than that. So, I don’t have any grudges against Kyrie," Ainge said during an appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Toucher & Rich" on Thursday.
"I’m grateful that he gave us a chance and it didn’t work out. It wasn’t his fault things didn’t work out. It was a lot of people’s fault, including my own,” Ainge continued.
Irving's two-season stint with the Celtics was highlighted by organizational dysfunction, which former teammate Marcus Smart later acknowledged was more of a team-wide issue than something solely brought on by the now-Nets point guard.
The club's on-court product faltered as well, with Boston getting bounced out of the second round in five games by the Milwaukee Bucks after reaching the Eastern Conference finals the previous campaign.
Despite Smart's assertion, Irving did play a role in sparking the hysteria. In October 2018, the former No. 1 overall pick teased season-ticket holders that he'd re-sign with the organization, only to spurn the C's in free agency the following summer.
While addressing how he'd like to see Irving received at TD Garden, Ainge implored Celtics fans not to boo the team's former star.
" ... I just think it’s a bad conclusion to come to. It’s not really fair," Ainge said.
"I think that's a sad commentary. But I understand it just because I know there's been a lot of negative attention."
Irving's status for the contest is unclear at this time, with the Nets star set to miss his fourth consecutive game Friday night against the Sacramento Kings with a shoulder impingement.