BOSTON (CBS) — A disturbing incident took place at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night, when a Knicks fan spit on Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young during the game.

That fan has since been identified and banned from MSG, but the incident — combined with a fan dumping popcorn on Russell Westbrook in Philadelphia — spotlighted the line that fans have crossed when interacting with athletes.

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Celtics forward Tristan Thompson has obviously seen the news, but he’s not particularly worried about having anyone spitting on him. In fact, he outright dared people to try.

“I dare a mother [bleeper] to spit on me,” Thompson said while speaking to the media on Friday. “I’ll follow you right to your house.”

Message: sent.

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Thompson said that fans who do get caught spitting in a sports arena should face more punishment than just losing tickets.

“There should also probably be like a fine, like a criminal fine,” Thompson suggested. “Because if you spit on someone down the street, don’t you get fined or arrested or some [stuff] like that? If you spit on people in the arena, and you can’t spit on people on the street, it should be the same protocol I think.”

While spitting won’t be an issue this weekend, when the Celtics host the Nets in Game 3 on Friday and then again in Game 4 in a nearly full TD Garden on Sunday, the topic of racism in Boston figures to remain a prominent issue. Nets superstar Kyrie Irving, who played for the Celtics for two seasons before bolting for Brooklyn in free agency, said after Tuesday night’s game that he hopes to avoid “belligerence or any racism going on” when he returns to play in front of Boston fans for the first time since leaving the team.

On that note, Thompson — who played alongside Irving as a visitor in Boston when the two were on the Cleveland Cavaliers — indicated that he has heard some things said to him in Boston.

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“Yeah, of course, definitely,” Thompson said when asked if he’s ever heard anything racial when visiting Boston as an opponent. “I think that’s what makes Boston fans special and different — not the racism part. I think the part where they’re very into the game and they want to be the sixth man on the court, and however they can get under [the opponents’] skin and taunt us, they’ll try to do that. So I’ve definitely heard guys say some crazy stuff, but I think they’re just trying to do that to get into a player’s head. And sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. At the end of the day, my experience personally being a Celtic, no one has said anything racial to me as a player. As a visitor, that’s a different story. But if they choose to use those kind of words to get a player’s attention, that just comes from their home training, and their lack of home training, is what my mom would say.”

CBSBoston.com Staff