Water bottle nearly hits Nets’ Kyrie Irving following win in Boston

A security guard points as Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving and Tyler Johnson look into the stands.
A security guard points as Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving, right with towel, and Tyler Johnson (10) look up at a fan who allegedly threw a water bottle at Irving as he left the court Sunday in Boston.
(Elise Amendola / Associated Press)

Kyrie Irving says banning fans who mistreat NBA players won’t solve the problem.

It goes much deeper than that.

“Just underlying racism, and treating people like they’re in a human zoo,” Irving said after a water bottle was thrown at him following Brooklyn’s 141-126 victory over the Celtics on Sunday night.

“Throwing stuff at people, saying things. There’s a certain point where it gets to be too much. You see people just feel very entitled out here. ... As a Black man playing in the NBA, dealing with a lot of this stuff, it’s fairly difficult. You never know what’s going to happen.”


Irving, who said last week he was the victim of racism during his two years playing in Boston, had 39 points and 11 rebounds to quiet the first post-pandemic full house at the TD Garden. The win gave Brooklyn a 3-1 lead in the first-round playoff series and a chance to clinch at home Tuesday.

As Irving walked off the court, he was nearly hit by a bottle thrown from the stands. Irving and Nets guard Tyler Johnson turned toward the stands and pointed. Police surrounded a man in a Kevin Garnett jersey in the stands before leading him out in handcuffs.

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A spokeswoman for the TD Garden said Boston police arrested one person Sunday night “for throwing an object.”

“We have zero tolerance for violations of our guest code of conduct,” spokeswoman Tricia McCorkle said. “And the guest is subject to a lifetime ban from TD Garden.”

The incident mirrored bad behavior at other NBA games in the past week as arenas began lifting capacity limits set during the pandemic.

In Philadelphia, a fan threw popcorn at Wizards star Russell Westbrook; in New York, one spit at Atlanta’s Trae Young as he prepared to inbound the ball. They were banned, as were three fans in Utah who Grizzlies guard Ja Morant said “just went too far” with him or his family.


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“Fans have got to grow up at some point,” Nets forward Kevin Durant said. “I know that being in the house for a year and a half with the pandemic has got a lot of people on edge, has got a lot of people stressed out. But when you come to these games you’ve got to realize: These men are human. We’re not animals. We’re not in the circus.

“You coming to the game is not all about you as a fan. So have some respect for the game. Have some respect for the human beings. And have some respect for yourself.”