Kyrie Irving is the latest target of abusive NBA fan behavior.
Water bottle nearly hits Kyrie Irving as he walks to the locker room following Game 4 in Boston. pic.twitter.com/RrtZth3cqt
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) May 31, 2021
TD Garden later announced that a fan in the arena had been arrested for throwing a water bottle and was subject to a lifetime ban. Cameras captured images of police escorting a man in a Celtics jersey away from the stands.
The game was the second of the series in Boston and the first Celtics game played in front of a near-capacity TD Garden crowd since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The incident occurred shortly after Irving appeared to stomp on the Celtics logo at midcourt.
— ESPN (@espn) May 31, 2021
Prior to the visit, Irving told reporters that he hoped for a civil reception in Boston free of "subtle racism" and focused "strictly on basketball."
"Hopefully we can just keep it strictly basketball," Irving told reporters last week. "There's no belligerence or any racism going on — subtle racism and people yelling s*** from the crowd."
Irving played two seasons for the Celtics prior to joining the rival Nets in 2019. He addressed the incident after the game.
Kyrie Irving: 'It's a reflection on us as a whole'
Kyrie speaks on having a water bottle thrown at him.
‘People just feel very entitled out here... it's a reflection on us as a whole when you have fans acting like that.’
(🎥: @SNYNets) pic.twitter.com/PaJEZGnkwW
— theScore (@theScore) May 31, 2021
"You're seeing a lot of old ways come up," Irving said. "It's been that way in history in terms of entertainment and performers in sports for a long period of time — just underlying racism and treating people like they're in a human zoo. Throwing stuff at people, saying things.
"There's a certain point where it gets to be too much. ... It's a reflection on us as a whole when you have fans acting like that."
Kevin Durant: 'Your mother wouldn't be proud of you'
His teammate Kevin Durant urged fans to "grow the f*** up."
Kevin Durant has some words for the Celtics "fan" who threw a water bottle at Kyrie Irving:
"Grow the f--k up and enjoy the game. It's bigger than you." pic.twitter.com/eKCc14Kdhn
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) May 31, 2021
"Fans gotta grow up at some point," Durant said. ... "When it comes to these games, you've got to realize these men are human. We're not animals. We're not in a circus. ...
"Have some respect for the game. Have some respect for the human beings. And have some respect for yourself. Your mother wouldn't be proud of you throwing water bottles at basketball players or spitting on players or tossing popcorn. Grow the f*** up and enjoy the game. It's bigger than you."
More abusive fan behavior
Durant referenced a rash of unruly fan behavior aimed at opposing players that's come with the return of near-capacity crowds at playoff games. A Philadelphia 76ers fan at the Wells Fargo Arena Center dumped popcorn on Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook last Wednesday as he walked injured to the locker room. That same night, a New York Knicks fan at Madison Square Garden spit at Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young. Both of those fans were banned the respective arenas.
A day later, the Utah Jazz announced that three fans received indefinite bans after directing abusive language toward Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant's family as they watched Game 2 of their playoff series from the Vivint Arena stands.
Morant's father, Tee, told ESPN's Tim MacMahon that one fan made a sexually explicit remark to his wife, Jaimie, and that another told him, "I'll put a nickel in your back and watch you dance, boy."
The Nets-Celtics series moves to Brooklyn on Tuesday with the Nets holding a 3-1 lead. If the Celtics win, the series would return to Boston for Game 6 on Thursday.
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