There’s been a swell of support on social media for Kyrie Irving to press charges against the fan who was arrested for throwing a water bottle at the pro basketball star and narrowly missing in the moments after an NBA playoff game Sunday night.
A combination of Irving’s magnificent play for the Brooklyn Nets during Game 4 and his fears of experiencing racism from fans in Boston culminated in the still-unidentified Celtics fan targeting the star by lobbing a water bottle in his direction.
Video shows it nearly hit him and other Nets players as they were exiting the court following the Celtics being trounced by the Nets and moving one game away from winning the first-round playoff series that turned extra contentious after Irving — who used to play for Boston — expressed concerns of “casual racism” upon his return to the city last week.
The water-bottle throwing proved his point, Irving suggested in post-game comments reacting to the questions about being the physical target of Celtics’ fans scorn. He doubled down on his claims of racism.
“It’s unfortunate that sports has come to this crossroads where a lot of old ways are coming up,” Irving said. “It’s been that way for entertainment for a long time with underlying racism and being treated like you’re in a zoo.”
It was in that context that NBA social media timelines were flooded with posts encouraging him to press charges against the Celtics fan, who was quickly identified and led out of the arena in handcuffs. Video also showed the fan wearing a Kevin Garnett Celtics jersey throwing the water bottle. He could be seen looking as if he was denying responsibility in the moments before authorities handcuffed him after fans had vacated TD Garden.
While there is no proof of a connection, Irving’s comments last week about Celtics fans likely helped prompt the water bottle to be thrown. Well, that and Irving marching to the center of the Celtics’ home court after the game Sunday and appearing to stomp on the legendary leprechaun logo — an act considered highly disrespectful in sports.
Soon after, the water bottle was launched.
Prior to playing Game 3 of the series in Boston, Irving publicly expressed hope that his return to the city isn’t tainted by fans being racist.
“Hopefully we can just keep it strictly basketball,” Irving said during the post-game press conference. “There’s no belligerence or racism going on, subtle racism, and people yelling [expletive] from the crowd. Even if it is, it’s part of the nature of the game and we’re just going to focus on what we can control.”
Kyrie added about his claims of racism in Boston: “I’m not the only one who could attest to this . . . but it’s just, it is what it is. The whole world knows it.”
Celtics fans instantly resented the implication that Boston is a racist city or that the franchise could have racist fans.
Some context: Irving reneged on his promise to re-sign with the Celtics, bolting in 2019 to join the Nets, which has assembled a superteam of other perennial all-stars. Celtics fans claim that is the reason for their hatred of Irving. But, if that’s true, why the added resentment over his comments about potentially experiencing racism from in Boston? Why not just outright condemn racism instead? Unless…
After the fan was arrested, it was reported that he could receive a lifetime ban from TD Garden.
To be sure, this isn’t Boston’s first racist fan rodeo, with one of the most recent instances serving as a reminder that Sunday night probably will not be the last time that fan gets to wake through the doors of TD Garden.
Lest we forget in 2019, when then-Golden State Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins told Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes that he was called the N-word by a fan but didn’t name the city. Haynes later reported that the incident happened in Boston and the fan was banned for that season and the next, which, of course, means that fan will be welcomed back next season unconditionally into the same arena in which he reportedly called a Black NBA player the N-word.
That is to speak nothing of the Player’s Tribune article penned by Celtics player Marcus Smart about the racist fan who called him the N-word after a game while wearing a Celtics jersey alongside a little boy. That was during the 2016-2017 season, but Smart shared the story just last year, months after the purported racial reckoning the country was already underway.
This is America.