Prior to Memorial Day weekend, Brooklyn Nets Point Guard Kyrie Irving made headlines for his comments about the behavior of fans in TD Garden. He told reporters that he hoped to avoid any acts of "subtle racism" while playing against the Celtics in Boston, Massachusetts. More importantly, he hoped to keep things "strictly [about] basketball" while playing in Boston.
"I am just looking forward to competing with my teammates and hopefully, we can just keep it strictly basketball; there's no belligerence or racism going on -- subtle racism," Irving said.
"People yelling s--- from the crowd, but 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."
After his team's 15-point win against the Celtics on Sunday, it appears that fans could no longer keep things "strictly [about] basketball." As Irving and his teammates walked towards the tunnel and toward the locker room, a fan threw a water bottle at the point guard. Shortly thereafter, the fan was been identified as 21-year-old Cole Buckley of Braintree, Massachusetts. Security escorted Bukley out of the arena and banned him from TD Garden for life. Afterward, the Boston Police Department charged him with assault and battery.
"We will support and provide assistance to Boston Police as this incident is under review," a spokesperson for TD Garden said.
"We have zero tolerance for violations of our guest code of conduct, and the guest is subject to a lifetime ban from TD Garden."
Unfortunately, this is not the first incident in which a player was harassed by a fan. In New York, a fan reportedly spit upon Atlanta Hawks Point Guard Trae Young. In Utah, a fan allegedly harassed the family of Memphis Grizzlies Point Guard Ja Morant. Most recently, a fan ran onto the court at Capital One Arena during a game between the Philadelphia 76ers and Washington Wizards. During a post-game interview, Irving expressed his disappointment with the recent behavior of fans.
"You can see that people just feel very entitled out here," Irving said.
"They paid for their tickets -- great, I'm grateful that they're coming in to watch a great performance. But we're not at the theater. We're not throwing tomatoes and other random stuff at the people that are performing."
Following the incident, the Brooklyn Nets will head home for their next game against the Boston Celtics on June 1.
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