The Boston Celtics dropped their third game of the series on Sunday night, as the shorthanded Cs were easily subdued by the Nets, 141-126. However, the on-court product from both teams was quickly overshadowed by the actions of one Celtics fan shortly after the end of regulation.
Multiple videos surfaced online of the fan throwing a water bottle at Nets star Kyrie Irving as he was leaving the court. The fan was swiftly escorted out of the arena by Boston police and was arrested “for throwing an object,” according to a statement released by TD Garden (via ESPN’s Tim Bontemps).
This is just the latest in a growing list of unacceptable fan behavior that has been brought to light during the first round of the NBA playoffs. Other examples include a Philadelphia 76ers fan dumping popcorn on Russell Westbrook’s head as he was attempting to exit the court with an injury. Also, the Utah Jazz banned three fans indefinitely after hurling racist and vulgar insults at the family of Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant, per The Salt Lake Tribune.
While the NBA has made it a priority to crack down on these lude acts, Irving’s teammates Kevin Durant and James Harden remain repulsed by the behavior, calling for a change following their victory over the Celtics.
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Kevin Durant: ‘Grow the F*** Up’
“Fans gotta grow up at some point. 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,” Durant told reporters. “But when you come into these games, you gotta realize these men are human. We’re not animals; we’re not in a circus. You coming to the game is not all about you as a fan. Have some respect for the game, have some respect for these 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. Grow the f*** up and enjoy the game. It’s bigger than you.”
Durant admitted that he never discussed the incident with Irving — nor did he think he needed to. Irving, a former Celtic, has become villain No. 1 in Beantown in recent years, most recently turning heads with his comments regarding racism in the city and amongst the fan base. The seven-time All-Star was also spotted stomping on the Celtics logo before leaving the court in Game 4.
“We didn’t even talk about it. We know how these people here are in Boston. We know how passionate they are about Kyrie in particular. They still upset at him,” Durant added. “That’s no reason for them to act childish but we don’t need to speak on that. We know what it is already coming in here. Glad we got the W. Hopefully we don’t have to come back here this year.”
Harden Calls for Stricter Enforcement
James Harden, who accounted for an absurd 18 assists on Sunday night and is now averaging a double-double in the series, also chimed in on the matter.
“It’s really unacceptable,” Harden proclaimed. “These fans should come in and boo or cheer or do whatever they gotta do. But throwing things and disrespectful language, it’s ridiculous at this point. I don’t know. There’s something that gotta be enforced with the NBA as far as fans. Somebody has to be made an example. I don’t think just banning fans from the arena is good enough because continuous, you see at different arenas, fans continue to do it. Something has to be put in place.”
“A guest was arrested by Boston Police at the end of tonight’s Boston Celtics game for throwing an object. We will support and provide assistance to Boston Police as this incident is under review. We have zero tolerance for violations of our guest code of conduct, and the guest is subject to a lifetime ban from TD Garden,” Tricia McCorkle, a TD Garden spokesperson, said in a statement.
The NBA released a statement just days prior to the Irving incident, saying fan code of conduct will be vigorously enforced.
The return of more NBA fans to our arenas has brought great excitement and energy to the start of the playoffs, but it is critical that we all show respect for players, officials and our fellow fans. An enhanced fan code of conduct will be vigorously enforced in order to ensure a safe and respectful environment for all involved.
As for the Celtics fan who tossed the bottle at Irving, he has been subject to a lifetime ban from TD Garden. The Athletic has also reported that Boston police confirmed on Monday that the fan faces assault and battery with a dangerous weapon charge, and is set to be arraigned Tuesday.