It came up in the 2022 playoffs when Draymond Green‘s wife Hazel Renee called out Celtics fans for their “f*** you Draymond” chants as well as other cursing phrases directed at Green in the presence of his kids (Steve Kerr and Klay Thompson called out Boston fans for that as well). Green invites and revels in this kind of attention from fans, but a line can be crossed.
LeBron mentioned the time someone poured a drink on him as he walked back to the locker room after a game in 2012, but he said that at this point in his career, he largely ignores the racist comments that come regardless of the city.
In off-the-record conversations, players will say that racist comments can come in any city, but it’s more prevalent in a couple of places, with Boston and Salt Lake at the top of the list (the Jazz had an issue with a fan and Russell Westbrook a few years ago). It’s not just a basketball thing with Boston, the MLB’s Tori Hunter talked about the issue in baseball.
Last year, Jaylen Brown — a politically active player and part of the Celtics’ core — spoke to Tim Bontemps of ESPN about the systemic racism in basketball, and what he has dealt with in Boston.
“But I do think racism is bigger than basketball, and I do think racism is bigger than Game 3 of the playoffs… The constructs and constraints of systemic racism in our school system, inequality in education, lack of opportunity, lack of housing, lack of affordable housing, lack of affordable health care, tokenism, the list goes on. So I recognize and acknowledge my privilege as an athlete…
“I know that every Celtics fan in our arena is not a racist. We have people of all walks of life, ethnicities, colors, that are die-hard Celtics fans. So I think painting every Celtics fan as a racist would be unfair. However, Boston, we’ve got a lot of work to do, no question.”
There is a lot of work to do. In Boston, and in America.