Celtics confirm use of racial slurs vs. opposing teams; ‘sickening,’ says Smart

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After former Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving stirred an especially uncomfortable pot regarding his hope he wouldn’t witness racist acts when returning to Boston for Game 3 of the Brooklyn Nets star’s series with his former club, it elicited some surprising — and to many, disappointing — responses.

Prominent members of the franchise and beloved alumni both ruffled feathers with their ignorance some suggested might be selective amnesia despite the team’s well-known, fraught racial relationship with its fanbase, continuing up to the present as attested to by Marcus Smart in The Players Tribune. Asked about the difficult topic, Smart himself confirmed he’d heard problematic things said by the fans to opposing teams, and another Celtic backed up the Flower Mound native’s recollections.

While such claims ought to be taken seriously regardless of the claimant, the nature of news media spurred on inquiries to Smart and other Celtics, the veteran guard attesting to the sort of abuse Irving had alluded to.

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"It was sad and sickening," he explained Thursday afternoon.

"Even though it was an opposing team, we have guys on your home team saying racial slurs, and you expect us to go out there and play for you. It's tough ... We just want everybody to be respected on and off the court. We want that same respect that we give the fans in the crowd to come out here and entertain to put on a good show and not interfere in that type of manner."

"We expect the same for us on the court," Smart demanded. https://twitter.com/TheCelticsWire/status/1397915532662214662?s=20

The following day, teammate Tristan Thompson confirmed those negative interactions with Celtics fans as a visiting player from when he was formerly with the Cleveland Cavaliers. "My experience being a Celtic, nobody has said anything racial to me," explained. "But as a visitor, it's a different story. If they say anything like that, it comes from their home training, or lack of home training as my mother would say." https://twitter.com/TheCelticsWire/status/1398263819999363073?s=20

"There are certain cities that you can expect some racial slurs around the third quarter once someone has enough beers and they know that they’re far enough from us where we can’t do anything to them," he noted.

"Of course the fans are very important to us in this league, and we appreciate them and their support every night, but there's a fine line when it becomes too much. When you start using racial slurs, or talking about someone's kids, then I think it's going too far past that line. The league's doing everything they can, and the arena -- they give all the rules and regulations. You saw in Philly and Utah and even New York ... the fans crossing the line, and they got their season tickets revoked."

Thompson noted that some acts, like spitting, were simply beyond the pale; "I dare a [expletive] to spit at me -- I'll follow you right to your house." https://twitter.com/TheCelticsWire/status/1397993856155672578?s=20

On the league side of things, the NBA ought to clamp down on the increasing number of such incidents around the Association aggressively. Whether it's the result of an especially acrimonious political landscape in recent years, the isolation of the pandemic or some combination of factors, we could see a return to an outcome like the so-called "Malice at the Palace." https://twitter.com/TheCelticsWire/status/1398323219845820417?s=20

Take it from the man himself -- Peace made a point of bringing up the historic scuffle on a recent episode of "The Undefeated". "When I saw this, it made me shake, because I remember when I was in the Palace and ran into the stands. Trash talking is okay, but when it comes to throwing things and spitting, as fans you can't do that. It's ridiculous." Indeed. This post originally appeared on Celtics Wire. Follow us on Facebook! [lawrence-related id=51222,51213,51198,51144] [listicle id=51202]

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