UPDATE: The Celtics released a statement regarding the incident, explaining why the fan in question did not receive a more harsh penalty.
Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe added some details about the fan and the punishment. The person was reportedly a minor, and with his penalty came a lifetime probation, one that will lead to a permanent ban if he ever violates it.
EARLIER: The NBA and its teams have made it a point to install a zero tolerance policy towards fans who go over a line in their interactions with players. The way basketball arenas are set up means it’s impossible to stop fans from talking to players, but starting with the recent incident involving Russell Westbrook and a Utah Jazz fan that led to the latter receiving a lifetime ban, this issue has been thrust into the spotlight.
The most recent example of this came to light on Thursday during a Yahoo Sports video featuring NBA insider Chris Haynes. According to Haynes, during the Golden State Warriors’ trip to Boston earlier this year, someone in attendance said the n-word to DeMarcus Cousins.
Haynes brought word that the fan who “muttered” that towards Cousins did not receive a punishment as harsh as the fan who said something racially charged towards Westbrook. Instead, the fan received a ban for the remainder of this season and the 2019-20 campaign.
You can see Haynes’ full comments around the 20-second mark of this video. It includes a breakdown of why players who receive this type of harassment get fined despite the fact that they are hearing racist language from fans. (Westbrook was fined $25,000 for his comments towards the fan that received a ban.)
“Well I think, obviously, the players are the high-profile players, they’re the athletes,” Haynes said. “And so whenever there are these back and forth exchanges going on, the player … the camera’s gonna be on the player first and foremost, it’s gonna be on them. You’re hardly ever gonna see what the fan said. So it’s gonna be on the players to keep their cool even if they’re hearing things of that nature.”
Haynes looked to add context for the discrepancy in the amount of time fans were banned by saying that the Cousins incident did not go viral and occurred before the Westbrook incidents — both the incident from earlier this month and one that occurred last year. There is no word on whether the two-year ban was the decision of the Celtics, the NBA, or decision makers at TD Garden in Boston.