In the famous words of Sean Evans, “Who would have thought?” Kyrie Irving is back in the NBA finals, and he is playing against a former team of his: the Boston Celtics. Irving, now a Dallas Maverick, left the Celtics in a somewhat controversial fashion in 2019. After a not-so-stellar stint with the Celtics, he requested a trade to the Brooklyn Nets. The initial idea was to pair Irving up with Gordon Hayward. But after Hayward’s gruesome ankle injury, it changed everything.

The crux of Celtics fans’ beef with Irving stems from them feeling deceived. Celtics fans are some of the most rabid in sports. They look for loyalty in their stars. After stating in a Nike commercial that he wanted to retire his jersey in Boston, it led folks to believe that Irving would be a Celtics lifer.

The way the cookie crumbles could be a funny thing. In Irving’s two seasons with the Celtics, he played 60 and 67 games of a possible 82 respectively. But they didn’t win more than 41 games with him during those two seasons. So I believe this is where some of the ill will from Boston fans begins to stem. When I was a kid, the Celtics were not good. The years before 2008 with Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker weren’t pretty. However, I grew to learn of the Celtics’ championship legacy.

So, when Boston fans are typically used to winning with 17 titles to its name, who is to argue with the Celtics? When you factor in Irving’s missed games due to injury, you could feel that the fans wondered if the juice was worth the squeeze. With what seemed a lack of chemistry with his teammates, Irving stated that he wouldn’t re-sign. It was the polar opposite of what he told fans on one fateful pre-season night.

Understandably, since then, Celtic fans have had it up to here with Irving, and whether in Brooklyn or Dallas, they wish him no luck on the court. However, with a renewed poise and mentality Irving has earned his way back to the NBA finals. The perennial all-star now finds himself opposite the team that he wanted to leave in his rearview. But to add to his legacy, he now has to grind his way through that same rabid fanbase that once yearned for his success.

As a sports fan, how could you not be a sucker for narratives? The prospect of Irving beating a team whose fans have such vitriol for him would be epic. The 2016 NBA champion has had quite the journey since leaving the side of this generation’s greatest, LeBron James. From his request to leave Boston to his controversial relationship with the media in Brooklyn, Irving is avenging it all. With seemingly more peace and clarity in his life, the greatest ball handler of all time can cap off this resurgence with an NBA title. If he were to win, what a testament to staying the course, and doing the work it would be.