Speaking in the aftermath of comments made by Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics President Danny Ainge said he has not known of racial encounters between players or fans in his 26-year association with the franchise. "We take those kind of things seriously," Ainge said. "I never heard any player that I have (been) with. I never heard that before from Kyrie and I talked to him quite a bit." Reports of racial epithets being directed at home and visiting players is long woven into the fabric of the New England's sports scene - dating back beyond the days of Red Sox slugger Jim Rice.
In 2020, Celtics guard Marcus Smart, no stranger to fan dustups himself, reported being slurred by a jaywalking white fan wearing the jersey of Black player Isaiah Thomas while trying to drive out of the arena area after a game.
Thursday marks Irving's first visit to TD Garden as a visiting player since fans have been allowed back, and promises to be a raucous scene. Meanwhile the No. 7 seed Celtics find themselves down 2-0 in the best-of-seven first round series. An early exit could spell the end for Ainge and Head Coach Brad Stevens.