Here we go again. Since crowds have returned to NBA arenas, the behavior of some fans crossing the line has been on the rise and is grabbing headlines.
Boston fans were loud with their boos — and worse language — directed at former Celtics guard Kyrie Irving all game long Sunday. Then, as the Nets were leaving the court after their win, a fan threw a water bottle at Kyrie Irving (he missed). That fan was taken into custody and detained.
As Kyrie Irving was leaving the floor at TD Garden a fan threw a water bottle at him pic.twitter.com/r6GeIvtt3I
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) May 31, 2021
— gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) May 31, 2021
— Michael Grady (@Grady) May 31, 2021
The TD Garden announced that a “guest at tonight’s Boston Celtics’ game” was arrested by Boston police after throwing an object at a player, and the man — who was wearing a Kevin Garnett jersey — is subject to a lifetime ban from the arena. This was the first game the TD Garden was back to full capacity.
“Fans have got to grow up at some point,” Durant said (via the Associated Press). “I know being at the house for a year and a half … has 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,” Durant said. “Grow the f*** up and enjoy the game. It’s bigger than you.”
This incident follows on the heels of a 76ers fan throwing popcorn on Russell Westbrook (said fan was ejected from the game, stripped of his season tickets, and banned from the Wells Fargo Center); a Knicks fan attempting to spit on Trae Young (he has been banned Madison Square Garden); and three Jazz fans crossing the line with the family of Ja Morant and saying vile things to them during a game (those fans were ejected and barred from returning to the arena).
It’s becoming an issue for the NBA — one with race and the treatment of Black players by some fans — overshadowing the games themselves at times. A real problem for a league trying to sell a joyous return to sports. This kind of behavior has to be punished swiftly and decisively as a deterrent, but the question now is what more can be done.