Kyrie Irving wanted his return to Boston to be focused on “strictly basketball.” It most certainly was not.
A Boston Celtics fan was arrested and banned from TD Garden arena for life after throwing a water bottle at Irving’s head as the Brooklyn Nets star was exiting the arena following the Nets game four victory on Sunday.
A fan appears to throw a water bottle at Kyrie as he heads into the locker room after the Nets-Celtics game. pic.twitter.com/SCGaWyStht
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 31, 2021
Nets players and members of the crowd were able to identify the man — 21-year-old Cole Buckley — who has been charged with one count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
Irving left Boston for Brooklyn after the 2019 season, enraging Celtics fans who felt spurned by his decision after he pledged he’d be back in Celtic green just one year earlier.
Games three and four in Boston were Irving’s first games at TD Garden — with fans in attendance — since leaving for the Nets in free agency. Before game three, Irving said he hoped he wasn’t the target of any “subtle racism” from the fans, sparking a conversation around Boston’s alleged history of racism when it comes to athletes.
After the game, Irving continued to elude to racism being a factor in the way visiting players are treated by fans in Boston.
“You’re seeing a lot of old ways come up,” Irving said. “It has been that way in history in terms of entertainment, performers and sports for a long period of time and just underlying racism and just treating people like they’re in a human zoo. Throwing stuff at people, saying things. There is a certain point where it gets to be too much.”
The incident comes after multiple instances of fans coming into contact with NBA players over the past week. Russell Westbrook of the Washington Wizards had popcorn dumped on his head after game two of their series against the Philadelphia 76ers, and Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks had a New York Knicks fan spit at him during game two of their series at Madison Square Garden.
“Fans got to grow up at some point,” Kevin Durant said after Sunday’s game. “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 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 at basketball players or spitting on players or tossing popcorn. So, grow the f*** up, and enjoy the game. It’s bigger than you.”
Though the fan who threw the water bottle was clearly in the wrong and deserves to be punished accordingly, Irving was not completely innocent in the ordeal.
He was caught stomping on the Celtics mid-court logo after the game, no doubt enraging a fanbase that was already upset after the blowout loss.
Kyrie Irving stomped on the head of the Celtics logo after the Nets beat them in what could be the final game at their arena this season pic.twitter.com/Zoa0EUs7dx
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) May 31, 2021
“We just gonna act like we didn’t see that,” Hall of Famer and former Celtic Kevin Garnett wrote on Instagram. “TF is going on…. You can’t do that. That’s not coo on any level .. All of us need to be better frfr.”
“Real bulls***,” former Celtic Glen “Big Baby” Davis commented. “Like I said you step on lucky you step on everybody that played for that team. Keep the s*** basketball before somebody get hurt in real life.”
The Celtics and Nets continue their series Tuesday night in game five of their first round matchup.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to email@example.com.
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