Brooklyn Nets superstar Kyrie Irving recently said that when he returns to Boston to take on the Celtics in their first-round playoff series, he hopes he doesn’t have to deal with subtle racism from fans in the crowd.
Celtics president Danny Ainge responded by saying that he never heard that from any player during his 26 years in Boston. However, current Celtics player Marcus Smart added his thoughts to the matter, and he backed his former teammate.
“Yeah, I’ve heard it,” Smart said in regards to hearing racist comments from fans at TD Garden. “I’ve heard a couple of things. It’s hard to hear that and then have them support us as players. It’s kind of sad and sickening.”
Smart also discussed the two incidents that took place in Philadelphia and New York on Wednesday night.
A Sixers fan had his season tickets revoked and he was suspended from attending any events at the Wells Fargo Center after he dumped popcorn on Washington Wizards point guard Russell Westbrook during their game, and a Knicks fan was banned after he spat on Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young. at Madison Square Garden.
On Tuesday, Irving was asked Tuesday night after the Nets’ Game 2 win what he expected in his latest return to TD Garden and in a heightened atmosphere. Irving also noted that it wasn’t his first time back playing in Boston against the Celtics, but he said that he was “looking forward to competing with my teammates and hopefully we can just keep it strictly basketball.”
“[Hopefully] there’s no belligerence or any racism going on, subtle racism and people yelling (stuff) from the crowd,” Irving said. “But even if it is, it’s part of the nature of the game and we’re just going to focus on what we can control.”
He was then asked whether he experienced something like that before.
“I’m not the only one that could attest to this, but it is what it is. The whole world knows,” he added.
Irving played for the Celtics from 2017 to 2019. Game 3 is set for Friday at 8:30 p.m. ET.
Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report.