BOSTON (CBS) — Kyrie Irving said that he doesn’t want to hear any “subtle racism” from Boston fans when the Celtics-Nets playoff series shifts to Boston on Friday night. His former Celtics teammates are backing him up, highlighting some of their own experiences of racism from the Boston crowd.
Asked about Irving’s comments following Thursday’s practice, Celtics guard Marcus Smart said that he is hoping that the Boston crowd will treat all players — whether they’re in a Celtics or a Nets uniform — with respect when the two teams square off this weekend.READ MORE: Paul Pierce Pitches 'Unfiltered' Podcast With Kevin Garnett
“We want our fanbase and our crowd to be very respectful of all players. We’re out here to perform and entertain for the crowd,” said Smart. “We want it to be respectful of all players.”
Celtics forward Jayson Tatum said Thursday that he loves Boston fans, and knows there will be some chants against Irving when the Nets come to town. Like Kyrie, he hopes they keep it about basketball.
“I think there’s a certain way fans should act while enjoying the game and respecting the teams. I think that’s what he was eluding to,” Tatum said of Irving’s comments. “Obviously there are going to be chants against him, but he was talking about keeping it basketball, which people should understand.”READ MORE: Al Horford Grateful For Another Shot At Some Unfinished Business With Celtics
Smart detailed a racist encounter he had with a Celtics fan a few years ago in an article for The Players’ Tribune in October, and echoed again Thursday that he has heard racist remarks from Boston fans.
“I’ve heard a couple of them. It’s kind of sad and sickening,” he said. “Even though it’s an opposing team, we have guys on your home team that you’re saying these racial slurs and expect to go out and play for you. It’s tough. We just want everyone to be respectful.”
Smart also brought up two instances from Wednesday night’s playoff action, when Wizards guard Russell Westbrook had popcorn poured on him in Philadelphia and Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young was spit on by a New York Knicks fan. Both of those fans have been banned indefinitely from those arenas.
“We don’t want our crowd to be like that,” said Smart. “We want everyone to be respected on and off the court.”MORE NEWS: New Celtics Head Coach Ime Udoka Has Earned Gregg Popovich's Respect: 'He's A Pro'
Game 3 of the Celtics-Nets series tips off at 8:30 p.m. on Friday night. Brooklyn holds a 2-0 lead in the series.