Celtics

Marcus Smart says he has heard fans use racial slurs at TD Garden

"It's kind of sad and sickening."

Marcus Smart says he has heard fans say racial things at TD Garden. Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

In the wake of Kyrie Irving’s comments about Celtics fans yelling racist remarks, Marcus Smart told reporters on Thursday that he, too, has heard fans at TD Garden use racial slurs.

“I’ve heard a couple of them,” Smart said. “It’s kind of sad and sickening. Even though it’s an opposing team, we’ve had guys on your home team that you’re saying these racial slurs and you expect us to go out here and play for you. It’s tough.

“We just want everyone to be respectful, on and off the court. We want that same respect that we give to fans and the crowd to come out here and put on a good show and not to interfere in that type of manner with them. We expect the same in return from us.”

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Last year, Smart outlined an incident that left him shaken in the Players Tribune. Leaving TD Garden one night after a game, Smart saw a woman and a child crossing the street as cars started to drive. Smart yelled at the woman — who was wearing an Isaiah Thomas jersey — to hurry out of the street.

“I figured she’d be cool,” Smart wrote in his story.

Instead, the woman turned and screamed at him, calling him a “f—ing n-word” in front of the young child.

“Dozens of times since that run-in, I’ve prayed for that child who was clutching his mom’s hand that night,” Smart wrote. “For his future. And for all the kids out there being brought up to hate rather than to love.”

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Earlier on Thursday, Danny Ainge told 98.5’s Toucher and Rich he has “never heard any of it.”

“I think that we take those kinds of things seriously,” Ainge said. “I never heard any of that from any player in my 26 years in Boston. I never heard that from Kyrie, and I talked to him quite a bit. I don’t know. As far as I’m concerned, we’re just playing basketball.”

Jayson Tatum said he believed Irving was referencing issues across the league, not just in Boston. Tatum pointed to an incident on Wednesday when a fan at a Knicks game spat on Trae Young.

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“Obviously, there are going to be chants against him, but I guess he was just talking about keeping it basketball, which I think most people should understand,” Tatum said about Irving.

Irving’s comments, however, were made on Tuesday when he was asked about returning to a hostile TD Garden for the first time since he signed with the Brooklyn Nets in the summer of 2019.

“I am just looking forward to competing with my teammates and hopefully, we can just keep it strictly basketball,” Irving said. “There’s no belligerence or racism going on — subtle racism, people yelling s— from the crowd. But even if it is, it’s part of the nature of the game and we’re just going to focus on what we can control. 

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“I am not the only one who can attest to this, but it is just, you know,” Irving paused, and threw his hands in the air. “It is what it is. The whole world knows it.”

Irving’s teammate, Blake Griffin, was asked about Irving’s remarks on Thursday. Griffin said he has heard racist comments in a number of NBA cities.

“Never played a playoff game in Boston,” Griffin said. “So it’s a little different regular season. So, hopefully not. Like I said, I have a lot of respect for the fans in Boston: They know the game, they’re loud, they support their team. But you just hope it stays like that and doesn’t cross any lines. But again, I’m not going into it with that expectation, because I haven’t had that experience and it’s just kind of how I operate.”

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