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.”
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.
“Fans gotta grow up at some point,” Nets forward Kevin Durant said in postgame. “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.
“We just had a knucklehead do something knuckleheadish,” Celtics guard Marcus Smart said. Smart said the fan was located quickly and “taken care of” by authorities.
This is a developing story. More to come.