The Boston Celtics fan who threw a water bottle at Brooklyn Nets star point guard Kyrie Irving will face one count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon in Boston Municipal Court on Tuesday.
Cole Buckley, 21, of Braintree, MA was arrested shortly after the Nets defeated the Celtics 141-126 on Sunday at TD Garden in Boston after throwing the bottle toward Irving as he and his teammates walked down the tunnel toward their locker room.
Irving had dropped 39 points in the victory to lift the Nets to a 3-1 series advantage against the team he spent a rocky three seasons with between 2017-2019.
“It’s unfortunate that sports have come to a lot of this kind of crossroad where you’re seeing a lot of old ways come up,” Irving said. “It’s been that way in history in terms of entertainment, performers, and sports for a long period of time — just underlying racism and just treating people like they’re in a human zoo.
“Throwing stuff at people and saying things. It’s a certain point where it gets to be too much… people just feel very entitled out here.”
Irving had voiced his concerns earlier last week before the Nets headed to Boston for Game 3 where he expected a hostile environment from a city and fan base that has often been accused of displaying racist sentiments toward athletes.
“Hopefully we can just keep it strictly basketball,” Irving said last Tuesday. “There’s no belligerence or any racism going on; subtle racism and people yelling s— from the crowd.”
Boston fans booed Irving every time he touched the ball on Sunday and had chanted “f— you Kyrie” and “Kyrie sucks” throughout Games 3 and 4. Irving didn’t have much of a problem playing the heel throughout both games, interacting with the crowd during Brooklyn’s loss in Game 3 before stepping on the head of the Celtics’ leprechaun logo at center court on Sunday.
Buckley has been banned for life from TD Garden along with the charges that he faces.
“We will support and provide assistance to Boston Police as this incident is under review,” TD Garden spokesperson Tricia McCorkle said after the game. “We have zero tolerance for violations of our guest code of conduct, and the guest is subject to a lifetime ban from TD Garden.”
It’s just the latest embarrassing display shown by NBA fans over the last week. A 76ers fan at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center was banned after dumping popcorn on Washington Wizards star Russell Westbrook as he limped into the locker room with an ankle injury. A New York Knicks fan at Madison Square Garden was also shown the door for spitting on Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young.
“I know that being in the house for a year and a half with the pandemic got a lot of people on edge, got a lot of people stressed out,” Nets star Kevin Durant said after Irving’s incident. “When you come to these games, you have to realize these men are human. We’re not animals, we’re not in a circus.
“You coming to the game is not all about you as a fan. So have some respect for the game, have some respect for these human beings, and have some respect for yourself. Your mother wouldn’t be proud of you throwing water bottles at basketball players or spitting on players or tossing popcorn.
“So grow the f— up and enjoy the game. It’s bigger than you.”