Kyrie Irving left Boston for the Brooklyn Nets two years ago and is showing some apprehension about his return. About the city, he said, “It’s not my first time being an opponent in Boston,” he said Tuesday. “I’m just looking forward to competing with my teammates and hopefully we can just keep it strictly basketball. There’s no belligerence or racism going on, subtle racism, or people yelling s— from the crowd.”
When he was asked about this, he said “I am not the only one who can attest to this, but it is just, you know (throws hands in the air) It is what it is,” he said. “The whole world knows it.” Celtics coach Brad Stevens addressed the remarks on 98.5 The Sports Hub Wednesday saying, “I certainly take any comments like that very seriously,” Stevens told Zolak and Bertrand.
He went on to say, “I don’t know what context [Kyrie] was discussing there. But I know that the Garden, I know that the Celtics, I know that the NBA, is very alert to making sure that our fans don’t cross the line. I think that’s really important. People shouldn’t ever feel like they’re being discriminated against. I think everybody is dialed into that.”
“That’s happened maybe once or twice since I’ve been here, and it was dealt with immediately. But maybe it’s happened and guys haven’t talked about it. Certainly Kyrie has never mentioned anything to me about it, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, and I think those things should always be taken very seriously.”
A fan was banned in 2019 by the Celtics organization from TD Garden for 2 years for shouting a slur at a player. The slur was directed at Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins.
Former Celtics player Kendrick Perkins has a different opinion saying, “Celtics fans are some of the best fans in the world. I played there for eight-and-a-half years. I lived there for eight-and-a-half years. And me personally, I never dealt with any type of racism while I was living in Boston,” Perkins said on NBC Sports Boston after Game 2. “That’s just me personally. I never dealt with it. I also came back as an opponent of the Celtics. I played there with the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Cleveland Cavaliers and still never experienced any racism.”
Now Irving has a lot of history in Boston that backs up his claims. Mark Wahlberg as a teenager was arrested multiple times for throwing rocks at blacks and asians calling them racial slurs on multiple occassions. One of those events involved him shouting “Kill all the n*ggers.” This was around the time of the Charles Stuart case, a man who killed his wife, blamed a made up black person and sent the city into mayhem with the police beating up and arresting random black people.
And then there’s the words of other athletes. Barry Bonds said Boston was too racist for him to play there. Adam Jones had racial slurs hurled at him in Boston and a bag of peanuts thrown in his direction in 2017. There’s plenty of examples of how things are in that city and hopefully this won’t be anything Irving will have to tolerate because it’s noto nly draining but a distraction from playing.