After the Nets’ 141-126 victory in their matchup, members of the team walked off the TD Garden court, and Irving’s head was grazed by a water bottle thrown by a frustrated Celtics fan. He spoke to reporters about the incident during a post-news conference moments after Game 4.
“It’s unfortunate that sports has come to a lot of this kind of crossroads where you’re seeing a lot of old ways come up,” he said.
“It’s been that way in history in terms of entertainment, performers and sports for a long period of time, just underlying racism and just treating people like they’re in a human zoo.”
According to the Boston Police Department, the Celtics fan, who has since been identified as 21-year-old Cole Buckley, was arrested and faces one count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. He’s slated to be arraigned in Boston Municipal Court on Tuesday (June 1).
A TD spokesperson added he’s been banned for life from the TD Garden.
“A guest was arrested by Boston Police at the end of tonight’s Boston Celtics game for throwing an object,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
“We will support and provide assistance to Boston Police as this incident is under review. We have zero tolerance for violations of our guest code of conduct, and the guest is subject to a lifetime ban from TD Garden.”
Irving is the latest NBA star to be targeted by a fan from an opposing team. Just last week, a New York Knicks fan was banned from Madison Square Garden for spitting on Atlanta Hawks star, Trae Young. Popcorn was also dumped on Russell Westbrook by a fan of the Philadelphia 76ers.
“Throwing stuff at people and saying things. It’s a certain point where it gets to be too much … People just feel very entitled out here,” Irving told reporters. “They paid for their tickets, great. I’m grateful that they’re coming in to watch a great performance, but we’re not at the theater. We’re not throwing tomatoes, and other random stuff at the people that are performing. It’s just too much.”
Look below to see a compilation of the incidents experienced by Irving, Westbrook and Young.