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Kyrie Irving isn’t nervous ahead of Cleveland return: ‘It’s just hoops’

Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving denies feeling any nerves ahead of his imminent return to The Land after forcing his way off the Cleveland Cavaliers with an offseason trade demand. And things get real quickly in that regard as the Celtics will descend upon Quicken Loans Arena to face the Cavs on NBA opening night.

Irving blew off the notion to ESPN’s Marc Spears that he’ll be nervous come Oct. 17, downplaying the showdown with his former team after a tumultuous split, instead chalking it up as just another game of basketball.

“No. Why would it be? It’s just hoops,” Irving said following a Wednesday shootaround. “It’s just hooping. I understand the magnitude … But I know what it is going to entail in terms of marketing, whatever the case may be, to garner up this energy to make people feel a certain type of way. I get all that. It’s part of the game. It’s been a part of the game for a while. But, it’s just two hoops and a basketball.

“It’s all love no matter what. I have heard boos at times to hearing cheers in the parade. I’ve been in the championship parade as well as being down 30 in ‘Q Arena.’ So, I’ve heard it all. It’s just good to be there and hoop against a great team like the Cavs.”

Irving has had plenty to say about the city of Cleveland in recent days. And there’s no understating how he raised the ire of Clevelanders by singing the praises of Beantown.

“Boston, I’m driving in and [thinking], ‘I’m really playing in a real, live sports city?” Irving said Wendesday, via The Charlotte Observer.

Irving forcing a trade is not surprisingly viewed as an unforgivable act of betrayal in Cleveland. Now this?  It was going to be bad enough for Irving in his first game back in The Land.

Suffice to say, Cavs fans inside The Q are going to be whipped up into a frenzy on opening night.

Perhaps Irving should be nervous.