Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving blamed “underlying racism” after a Boston fan threw a water bottle at his head as he was leaving TD Garden.
The story: Irving became the subject of fan mistreatment after the game on Sunday night ended. He and his teammates Tyler Johnson were heading back to the locker room, after claiming victory in Game 4 against the Celtics at TD Garden in Boston, when a fan from the audience hurled a water bottle at him.
The bottle nearly hit Irving in the head.
His response: The Nets start claimed that the incident is an example of “underlying racism.” He also suggested that fans sometimes treat NBA players like they are in a “human zoo” rather than an NBA arena.
“(It’s) just underlying racism, and treating people like they’re in a human zoo,” the Nets star said.
“Throwing stuff at people, saying things. There’s a certain point where it gets to be too much. You see people just feel very entitled out here. … As a Black man playing in the NBA, dealing with a lot of this stuff, it’s fairly difficult. You never know what’s going to happen,” he added.
“I’m grateful that they’re coming in to watch a great performance but we’re not at the theater, we’re not throwing tomatoes and other random stuff at the people that are performing. It’s too much and it’s a reflection on us as a whole, when you have fans acting like that. Hopefully, people learn their lessons from being banned, for however many years of being arrested but there’s always going to be an occasion,” Irving said.
The fan was arrested and reportedly banned from TD Garden for life.
But, before the fan threw a water bottle at the player, Irving appeared to step on and scrape the Celtic logo as the clock hit triple zeroes.
Not a first: Last week, Irving caused a stir when he said he hoped there would be no “subtle racism” at Game 3 at TD Garden on Friday.
“It’s not my first time being an opponent in Boston,” Irving said to reporters on Tuesday. “I’m just looking forward to competing with my teammates and hopefully we can just keep it strictly basketball. There’s no belligerence or racism going on, subtle racism, or people yelling s— from the crowd.”
When asked if he has experienced racism in Boston, Irving said: “I am not the only one who can attest to this, but it is just, you know (throws hands in the air) It is what it is. The whole world knows it.”
Worth noting: ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, in response to Irving’s remarks from last week about racism, said that the basketball player should acknowledge that he angered Boston fans when he signed with the Nets after promising to resign with the Celtics.
“He’s negating his role in the vitriol he’s received, and he’s anticipating receiving from the Boston fans,” Smith said.
“Kyrie Irving was wrong to do this. He was flat out wrong,” he said of his comments. “Because I don’t think this is about race at all. If you go to a Boston Celtics fan, when they are against you, it’s because you are not a Boston Celtic. It’s not because you’re Black.”
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