In the wake of Kyrie Irving’s comments about the “subtle racism” of Boston fans, Celtics GM Danny Ainge spoke out about the issue.
In an appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher and Rich,” Ainge claimed that he had “never heard” any Celtics player mention that during their time in Boston.
“I think that we take those kind of things seriously,” Ainge said. “I never heard any of that, from any player that I’ve ever played with in my 26 years in Boston. I never heard that before from Kyrie and I talked to him quite a bit.”
Ainge’s comments were certainly a bit odd, as Marcus Smart had written about a racist incident he faced outside the TD Garden just months before. And on Thursday afternoon, Smart said that he has “heard a couple of things” during his time in Boston.
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“Yeah, I’ve heard it. I’ve heard a couple of things,” Smart said of Boston fans making racist comments, per Yahoo Sports’ Keith Smith. “It’s hard to hear that and then have them support us as players. It’s kind of sad and sickening.”
So, regardless of what Irving did or didn’t tell Ainge about racism in Boston, there’s recent evidence to support Irving’s claims. And it comes from Smart, the longest-tenured Celtics player.
Smart isn’t alone either. In January 2019, the TD Garden banned a fan for two years after they “muttered the n-word” at then-Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins.
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Generally, around the NBA, there has been a recent uptick in incidents between fans and players. Most recently, the Jazz banned fans indefinitely for hurling racist remarks at Grizzlies star Ja Morant’s family.
Additionally, a 76ers fan dumped popcorn on Russell Westbrook on Wednesday night while a Knicks fan spat on Hawks star Trae Young. Both fans were banned from the arenas indefinitely.
Here’s hoping that Friday’s Game 3 between the Nets and Celtics passes without incident.