/Celtics fan throws water bottle at Kyrie Irving in another NBA embarrassment – New York Post

Celtics fan throws water bottle at Kyrie Irving in another NBA embarrassment – New York Post

Kyrie Irving says he was a victim of more than just fan stupidity. This latest NBA fan attack felt like racism to him.

A Celtics fan at TD Garden threw a water bottle at Irving as he walked up the tunnel to the locker room Sunday after scoring 39 points to lead the Nets to a 141-126 rout of Boston in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series.

“It’s unfortunate that sports has come to this kind of crossroads,” Irving said, “where you are seeing old ways come up … underlying racism and treating people like they are in a human zoo.”

The fan, who wore a Kevin Garnett jersey, was arrested by Boston Police, according to a statement issued by TD Garden.

“This incident is under review,” the statement read. “We have zero tolerance for violations of our guest code of conduct, and the guest is subject to a lifetime ban from TD Garden.”

Irving declined to say if the bottle hit his body or whether there was any interaction with that specific fan leading up to the incident. He stomped on the Celtics’ logo at mid-court shortly after the final horn sounded.

“Fans got to grow up at some point,” Nets star Kevin Durant said. “I know being in the house for 1 ½ years has a lot of people on edge and a lot of people stressed out. But when you come to a game you have to realize these men are human. We are not animals in a circus.

A Boston Celtics fan threw a water bottle at Kyrie Irving after the Nets win Sunday.
A Boston Celtics fan threw a water bottle at Kyrie Irving after the Nets win Sunday.
Getty, YES

“Have some respect for the game. Have some respect for human beings. Have some respect for yourself. Your mother wouldn’t be proud of you throwing water at basketball players. Grow the f— up and enjoy the game. It’s bigger than you.”

This is at least the third incident of fan aggression against a visiting opponent during the first round of the playoffs. The Wizards’ Russell Westbrook had popcorn dumped on him in Philadelphia and the Hawks’ Trae Young was spit on at Madison Square Garden.

“It’s really unacceptable,” Nets star James Harden said. “Fans should come in and boo or cheer, but throwing things and disrespectful language is ridiculous at this point. There is something that has to be enforced with the NBA. Somebody has to be made an example of. I don’t think just banning fans from the arena is good enough, because you see fans in different arenas continue to do it.”

Irving, who played for the Celtics for two seasons before souring the fan base by leaving in free agency, said before the series shifted to Boston that his hope was to avoid racism he said he previously experienced in the arena. Irving struggled as the Nets lost in Game 3, but found his groove in Game 4 and the crowd — increased from 4,789 on Friday to 17,226 on Sunday under modified COVID-19 regulations — reacted.

“From my understanding the culprit was taken care of very quickly,” Celtics guard Marcus Smart said. “We’re glad that was taken care of. Unfortunately, one bad seed doesn’t mean that the whole fruit is poisonous. Our fans have been great. We just had a knucklehead decide to do something knuckleheadish.”

Irving compared what is happening in sports now what players went through decades ago. He explained that “subtle racism” refers to fan comments about “moms, or what you look like or calling you out on your name” and doesn’t want to take away passion from fans.

“Anything could’ve happened with that water bottle being thrown at me,” Irving said. “But my brothers were surrounding me and I had people in the crowd. Just trying to get home to my wife and my kids.”

It is not known if the arrested fan was intoxicated.

“That’s just what sports is: You mix drunk people out in the crowd that are cheering for the team,” Irving said. “You have some fans that are there to watch the quality of the game. Now we don’t know who is who.”

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