Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving says some fans are treating players like “they’re in a human zoo” after a spectator was arrested for throwing a water bottle at the NBA star on Sunday.
The incident came as Irving was walking off the court having helped the Nets beat the Boston Celtics 141-126 at the TD Garden, with the bottle narrowly missing his head.
“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 told reporters after the game.
“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.
“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.”
A Boston Celtics fan was arrested and received a lifetime ban from the TD Garden.
“A guest was arrested by Boston Police at the end of tonight’s Boston Celtics game for throwing an object,” a TD Garden 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.”
Earlier in the week, three NBA teams indefinitely banned fans after incidents in which attendees exhibited unruly and outright disrespectful behavior toward players.
“They paid for their tickets — great, I’m grateful that they’re coming in to watch a great performance,” Irving continued.
“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.”