BOSTON (CBS/AP) — A fan was arrested and banned from the TD Garden for life for allegedly throwing a large can of Truly hard seltzer onto the court during the Boston Celtics game with the San Antonio Spurs Wednesday night.
The can sailed over the Spurs bench and exploded on the court during a game-changing swing in San Antonio’s 129-114 win.
The incident began in the third quarter when Celtics guard Kemba Walker was knocked to the court on a hard pick by LaMarcus Aldridge. There was no call from the referee and then Walker was ejected for back-to-back profanities.
The ejection didn’t sit well with Celtics fans, as a chorus of boos came raining down toward the court and then a drink came flying onto it, directly over the Spurs bench. Tyler Finnegan was a row behind the man who threw the can when it happened.
“And out of the corner of my eye I see this kid, just stand up and just launch this beer can from our section onto the floor and it literally felt like the can was in the air for 5 or 10 seconds,” Finnegan told WBZ-TV.
According to a Boston Police report, one of their officers “observed some sort of object flying through the air towards the opposing bench” and it “landed directly in front of the San Antonio Spurs bench missing one of the players by just a few inches and exploding onto the basketball court.”
When the officer looked to section 303 he said “numerous fans pointed at the direction of the suspect.”
The Celtics fan who threw the beer on the court from the balcony getting escorted out and about to have some new jewelry around his hands #celtics #spurs #nba #arrested #tdgarden pic.twitter.com/x91IS2NqSz
— Jason Botelho (@jmbotelho01) January 9, 2020
No one was hit by the can and no one was hurt. Celtics spokesman Christian Megliola said the fan who threw the can was immediately found and arrested.
Boston Police later identified him as 22-year-old Justin Arnold of Everett.
“It should be noted that as the officer was escorting Arnold out of the arena, he appeared to be extremely intoxicated and had a strong odor of alcohol,” police said in their report.
Arnold was charged with disturbing a public assembly and released on bail overnight. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Thursday morning in Boston Municipal Court. He was taken away in handcuffs after the arraignment for a prior incident out of Malden District Court.
According to court documents, Arnold was arrested in December 2018 for an assault and battery on a police officer, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct outside a bar. The last two charges were dismissed, but the assault and battery charge was given a continuance without a finding and Arnold was put on probation until July 10, 2020.
The drink in the Garden incident was initially described as a beer, but Boston Police later identified it as a 20-ounce can of Truly hard seltzer.
“This act is a serious violation of our guest code of conduct and as a result the guest will be banned from all future events at TD Garden, for life,” a spokesperson for the TD Garden said.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he apologized to the Spurs. San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich spoke to reporters for 33 seconds, and did not address the incident.
“I told Pop after the game I’m really sorry that they had to experience that,” Stevens said. “I hope that person’s not allowed in an NBA arena again.”
“We can’t have that,” Boston forward Gordon Hayward said. “I love our fans. I love our passion. But we’ve got to stay away from that.”
In a radio interview Thursday, Celtics president Danny Ainge said in some arenas in Europe players are protected by dugout-like shelters that surround the entire team and coaching staff from the fans.
“I hope we don’t have to get to that,” Ainge told Toucher & Rich. “Because it’s just obstructed view for people that are sitting close to the benches. It’s just not a good look. It’s not a good feeling to think you have to be protected from the fans.”
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)