Fan arrested after throwing bottle at Kyrie Irving, faces lifetime ban

"It's a reflection on us as a whole when you have fans acting like that," Irving said in a postgame news conference.

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A Boston Celtics fan was arrested and banned for life from the TD Garden Arena after throwing a water bottle at Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving on Sunday. 

“It’s unfortunate that sports has come to this crossroads where a lot of old ways are coming up,” Irving said in postgame press conference. “It’s been that way for entertainment for a long time, with underlying racism and being treated like you’re in a zoo.”

Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets dribbles the ball during the first half of Sunday’s Game Four against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images)

“It’s too much, and it’s a reflection on us as a whole when you have fans acting like that,” he continued. “So hopefully people learn their lessons from being banned for however many years, from being arrested. But there’s always going to be an occasion, so …”

He had predicted such an incident last week before the Nets traveled to Boston, where he once played. 

“I mean, it’s not my first time being an opponent in Boston, so I’m just looking forward to competing with my teammates, and hopefully we can just keep it strictly basketball; there’s no belligerence or any racism going on, subtle racism and people yelling s–t from the crowd,” Irving said last Tuesday.

Sunday’s incident is the fourth in a string of recent incidents against NBA players by unruly fans. Last week, someone poured popcorn on the head of an injured Russell Westbrook as the Washington Wizard left the floor in Philadelphia. A New York Knicks fan spit on Atlanta Hawk Trae Young, and the family of Ja Morant, the Memphis Grizzlies guard, was harassed in Salt Lake City. 

Nets forward Kevin Durant offered a plausible explanation for the behavior.

“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,” said Durant, “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.”

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“You coming to the game is not all about you as a fan. So, have some respect for the game,” he requested. “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 f–k up and enjoy the game. It’s bigger than you.”

NBA stars have been complaining about fans’ behavior on social media. Last week, LeBron James commented on the Westbrook incident, sparking the hashtags #ProtectOurPlayers. 

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The NBA Players Association released a statement last week, writing: “True fans of this game honor and respect the dignity of our players. No true fan would seek to harm them or violate their personal space. Those who do have no place in our arenas. And their conduct is appropriately evaluated by law enforcement just as if it occurred on a public street.”

“Respect our Players,” they plead. “Respect our Game.”

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