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Dan Shaughnessy

As if the Celtics on court were not bad enough, one fan makes it even worse

The Nets scored so many points, so easily on Sunday night in winning Game 4 that the capacity TD Garden crowd almost lost its will to boo Kyrie Irving.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

It just gets worse.

Kyrie Irving scored 39 against the Celtics in a 141-126, Game 4 drubbing Sunday night, then stomped on the Celtic midcourt logo before leaving. When Irving exited the floor with his teammates, a fan wearing a Kevin Garnett jersey fired a water bottle at Irving, narrowly missing his head. The fan was apprehended by Boston Police and led from the lower bowl in handcuffs.

“It’s unfortunate that sports has come to this crossroads, where you are seeing a lot of old ways come up,” said Irving. “It’s been that way in history, in terms of entertainment, performers in sports, for a long period of time. Underlying racism and just treating people like they’re in a human zoo. Throwing stuff at people, saying things. There’s a certain point where it just gets to be too much. I called it out. I wanted to keep it strictly basketball. But people just feel very entitled out here . . . we’re not at the theatre. We’re not throwing tomatoes and other random stuff at the people that are performing. It’s too much.”

Irving had a miserable two years playing for the Celtics and left on bad terms. After beating them in Game 2 last week, he was asked about coming to Boston and said, “Hopefully, we can just keep it strictly basketball, there’s no belligerence or racism going on — subtle racism — people yelling [expletive] from the crowd . . . I’m not the only one that can attest to it. The whole world knows it.”


Things were relatively calm Friday after the Celtics beat the Nets. It was different after Game 4, when the city of Boston got another black eye due to the actions of a single fan.

A water bottle thrown by a fan narrowly missed Nets player Kyrie Irving, who was leaving the court after Game 4.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

“We know how these people here are in Boston, how passionate they are about Kyrie in particular. They are still upset at him. That’s no reason for them to act childish,” Kevin Durant, who scored 42 for Brooklyn in Sunday’s win, said.


“Fans got to grow up at some point. 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. But when you come to these games, you got to realize these men are human. We’re not animals. We’re not in the circus. You coming to the game is not all about you as a fan. Have some respect for the game, have some respect for the human beings, and have some respect for yourself. Your mother wouldn’t be proud of you throwin’ water bottles at basketball players or spitting on players or tossing popcorn. Grow the [expletive] up and enjoy the game. It’s bigger than you.”

The fan who was identified by others as the one who threw the bottle at Kyrie Irving is led away in handcuffs after the incident.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

“I heard about it,” said Celtic Marcus Smart. “One knucklehead decided to do something knucklehead-ish.”

All in all, it was another horrible night for the city of Boston and its sports fans. Oh, and then there was the basketball game — a total beatdown by the Nets.

Can we just call the whole series off right now? Do the Celtics have to travel to Brooklyn to play Game 5?

It would be better to stop the fight. Stop the bleeding. Put this miserable Celtic season out of its misery right now. Declare the Nets winners and let them move on to the second round against the Milwaukee Bucks.


Playing without Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker, and Robert Williams, the 2020-2021 Celtics — a major disappointment since Christmas — succumbed to the star-laden Nets in front of a full Garden crowd. It was a truly awful game, a festival of 72 free throws, featuring Brooklyn’s amazing marksmanship and zero defense by both teams. The Nets scored so many points, so easily, that the Boston crowd almost lost its will to boo Kyrie.

James Naismith (no relation to Celtic Aaron Nesmith) certainly never envisioned anything like this when he first hung the peach baskets in Springfield in 1891. The Nets had 73 points at halftime and 112 at the end of three. In New England Patriot style, Brooklyn’s Big Three (James Harden added 23 with 18 assists) stayed in the game until the final minute, as did Jayson Tatum, who scored 40 for Boston.

This is not what the Garden’s first basketball sellout since March 2020 wanted to see when it filed into the big barn during the dinner hour. Fair or unfair, the veteran Walker is going to get some heat for missing this game with a knee bone bruise. Bank on it.

The immortal Romeo Langford replaced Walker in the starting lineup. Wherefore Art Thou Romeo was not deemed worthy of a single minute on the court in Game 1.

Energized by the big crowd — the first in 448 days — the Celtics never trailed in the first and led, 34-33, after one. Tatum scored 14. It was inelegant basketball with whistles constantly interrupting the flow. It was a game only Scal could love. The Celtics spent most of the quarter at the free-throw line.


Brad Stevens started the second with Langford, Semi Ojeleye, Payton Pritchard, Evan Fournier, and Grant Williams — a quintet not to be confused with Bird, Parish, McHale, Ainge, and DJ. When Tatum came back in the game, he picked up a selfish technical while arguing a non-call instead of getting back on defense. Irving made the technical free throw shot to give Brooklyn a 57-47 lead.

Harden and Durant blew by Boston’s defense and drove to the basket at will. Brooklyn made 17 of 24 from the floor in the quarter and led, 73-60, at halftime. Giving up 70 or more points in a half has been a Celtic specialty this season.

Brooklyn led, 112-91, after three. It was the most points any Celtic team ever allowed in the first three quarters of a playoff game. Incredibly, the everything-is-awesome Green Teamers were still chanting, “Let’s Go Celtics,” while the locals trailed by 23 with five minutes to play.

With it 140-125 and 55.9 seconds remaining, Nesmith intentionally fouled Harden to stop the clock. Truly. He did that. In Lawrence, Kansas, James Naismith rolled over in his grave.

This thing needs to be over. Now.

No mas. Please.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at Follow him @dan_shaughnessy.