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Nets’ Irving blasts ‘human zoo’ environment at arenas after fan throws bottle

May 30, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) dribbles the ball in front of Boston Celtics forward Jabari Parker (20) during the second half of game four in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving said NBA arenas had become like “human zoos” after a fan was arrested for throwing a water bottle at the former Celtic guard on Sunday.

Video posted on social media showed the bottle narrowly missed Irving, who scored 39 points in Game 4 as the Nets beat the Celtics 141-126 to take a 3-1 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series.

The Athletic reported the fan could be banned for life from Boston’s TD Garden.

“It’s unfortunate that sports has come to this crossroads where a lot of old ways are coming up,” Irving, who played for the Celtics from 2017-19, said after the match.

“It’s been that way for entertainment for a long time with underlying racism and just treating people like they are in a human zoo.”

The conduct of fans has been an issue for the NBA lately, with five spectators hit with indefinite bans for “completely unacceptable” behavior towards players and their families in separate incidents last week.

Nets forward Kevin Durant said fans need to “grow up.”

“We are not animals, we are not in the circus,” he added. “You coming to the game is not all about you as a fan. So, have some respect for the game.”

Reuters has requested comment from the NBA.

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