A fan threw a water bottle that nearly hit Kyrie Irving as he left the floor after the Brooklyn Nets‘ 141-126 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 4 on Sunday in Boston. The fan has been arrested and is subject to a lifetime ban from TD Garden as a result of the incident.

This is the fourth incident involving inappropriate fan behavior during an NBA playoff game in the past week. On May 26, fans were abusive to Russell Westbrook, Trae Young and the family of Ja Morant during games in Philadelphia, New York and Salt Lake City, respectively.

“It’s unfortunate that sports has come to this crossroads where a lot of old ways are coming up,” Irving said in postgame. “It’s been that way for entertainment for a long time with underlying racism and being treated like you’re in a zoo.

“It’s too much, and it’s a reflection on us as a whole when you have fans acting like that. So hopefully people learn their lessons from being banned for however many years, from being arrested. But there’s always going to be an occasion, so…”

Before the series’ two games in Boston, Irving — who played for the Celtics two seasons — said he hoped there wouldn’t be any belligerence or racism in his return. “Hopefully we can just keep it strictly basketball,” Irving said last week. Irving’s comments sparked conversation about racial abuse of athletes from Boston fans. Celtics forward Jaylen Brown said there was work to be done to address systemic racism in Boston and the United States.

“Fans gotta grow up at some point,” Nets forward Kevin Durant said in postgame Sunday. “I know that being in the house for a year and a half with the pandemic got a lot of people on edge, got a lot of people stressed out, but when you come to these games, you have to realize that these men are human. We are not animals, we are not in the circus.

“You coming to the game is not all about you as a fan. So, 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 or spitting on players or tossing popcorn. So, grow the fuck up and enjoy the game. It’s bigger than you.”

Irving scored 39 points and 11 rebounds in the win. The Nets lead 3-1 in the series.

“Unfortunately, one bad seed doesn’t mean that the whole fruit is poisoned,” Celtics guard Marcus Smart said. “Our fans have been great. We just had a knucklehead decide to do something knucklehead-ish and it got taken care of, so we’re happy for that.”

On social media, players have spoken up about the behavior of fans in the return to arenas this season as COVID-19 pandemic restrictions have been lowered.

“It’s happening every game,” Portland guard Damian Lillard said when asked about his thoughts on the Boston incident. “They not gone be happy til they do it to the wrong guy and get what they want.”



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