Kyrie Irving has been the center of attention for Boston Celtics fans so far this postseason, and that derision turned dangerous on Sunday night after a Game 4 loss at TD Garden. A fan threw a bottle at Irving as he left the floor, drawing the attention of Nets players and staff as they were walking off after the 141-point outing put Brooklyn on the brink of a series win against the Celtics.
Some people speculated wildly about why the person threw the bottle and who it was, with images of someone being escorted out of the seating bowl in a Kevin Garnett jersey making the rounds on social media in the aftermath. There was also a video of Irving greeting teammates at halfcourt after the game, appearing to intentionally step on the face of the Celtics logo.
Kyrie appeared to step on the Boston logo as he greeted his teammates at half court postgame.
— ESPN (@espn) May 31, 2021
If that’s an intentional slight at the Celtics and all the storied history Irving failed to add to in his time in Boston, well, so be it. That’s apparently what Celtics fans are upset about in the first place when it comes to the Nets star. Still, there’s no excuse to throw a projectile at a human being for simply walking off the floor. And Irving’s comments in postgame were reflective of that, comparing the way some fans see players as “being treated like you’re in a human zoo.”
Kyrie Irving, in part, on the fan throwing a water bottle at him: "You're seeing a lot of old ways come up… just underlying racism and 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."
— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) May 31, 2021
But perhaps the most astute comments in postgame came from Kevin Durant, who said after a week of demeaning fan behavior in venues across the NBA that fan behavior like that simply cannot be tolerated.
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) May 31, 2021
“Your mother wouldn’t be proud of you throwing water bottles at basketball players. Grow the f*ck up and enjoy the game,” Durant said in postgame on Sunday night. “It’s bigger than you.”
That’s certainly true, though this one particular fan in Boston certainly did their best to make themselves a story along with another Celtics loss. Reports emerged late Sunday night that the fan in question had been arrested, so they certainly succeeded in making a name for themselves here. Just for all the wrong reasons.