BOSTON – Boston Celtics point guard Marcus Smart said he hopes fans will be respectful Friday night when Kyrie Irving makes his first comeback appearance at TD Garden with fans in the arena for Game 3 of the series. First-round playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets.
“We want our fan base and our audience to be very respectful of all the players,” Smart said Thursday. “We are here to perform and entertain the crowd. We just want to be respectful on both ends. Now they saw us in the League with a couple more incidents with the fans in the crowd. We don’t want our people to be like that. We want everyone to be. respectful on and off the pitch “.
Smart wrote in The Players’ Tribune in October about a racist incident he had personally been through in Boston, and said he had heard of other similar incidents in the past.
“Yeah, I’ve heard a couple of them. It’s kind of sad and disgusting,” Smart said. “Even though it’s an opposing team, we’ve had guys on the team who are getting racial slurs and they expect us to come out here and play for you guys. It’s tough. Like I said, we just want everyone to be respectful, on and off the court. We want the same respect that we give to the fans and the public to come here and put on a good show and not interfere with them like that. We expect the same in return from us. “
A couple of years ago, a TD Garden fan received a two-year ban for yelling a racial slur at All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins, then with the Golden State Warriors, in a game on January 26, 2019.
“In the course of this investigation, we were able to conclude that the fan had verbally abused the Golden State bench, but none of the interviewed parties was able to verify the use of racially offensive language and the video evidence was inconclusive.” The Celtics said in a statement at the time about the fan, who was a minor.
“Based on our investigation, the fan received a two-year ban.”
Current Nets star Kevin Durant was on that Warriors team, while Irving at the time was still a member of the Celtics.
Danny Ainge, the Celtics’ president of basketball operations, said in a radio interview Thursday that he had never heard a player say they had dealt with racism as a member of the Celtics in the past.
“I think we take that kind of thing seriously,” Ainge told 98.5 The Sports Hub. “I’ve never heard any of that, from any player I’ve played with in my 26 years in Boston. I’ve never heard that before from Kyrie, and I talked to him quite a bit. So I don’t know. Like As far as I’m concerned, no It matters. We’re just playing basketball. Players can say what they want. “
Fan behavior has received a lot of attention in recent days, since Irving’s comments after Game 2 on Tuesday night that “hopefully we can keep it strictly in basketball; no belligerence, no racism, subtle racism.” , to Russell Westbrook who had popcorn thrown on his head in Philadelphia and Trae Young being spit on in New York.
Celtics star Jayson Tatum, who will play Friday after being hit in the eye in the second half of Tuesday’s loss, said that like Smart, he expects fans to be respectful of Irving when he returns.
“I love our fans and I think it’s just a certain way that the fans should act as they continue to enjoy the game and cheer on their respective teams,” Tatum said. “I think that’s what I feel he was referring to. Obviously, there will be chants against him, but I guess he was just talking about keeping basketball, which I think most people should understand.”
For his part, Nets coach Steve Nash said whatever happens, he hopes Irving won’t have a problem handling it.
“I haven’t talked to Ky about it,” Nash said. “He is an international basketball player. I think he is quite comfortable in hostile environments. I am sure he will enjoy the opportunity. There is a line, but crossed or not, Ky can handle that, no question. We hope everything is within the limits. standards of sportsmanship, so to speak, but Ky can handle it and has done it his entire career. “