One Celtics fan will have to watch the team from the comfort of their home or through the windows of the team’s home arena for the next two seasons — but don’t feel bad for them.
The Celtics have banned an unnamed fan from TD Garden Arena for the remainder of this Celtics season and the entirety of the next for muttering a racial slur at Warriors big man DeMarcus Cousins during a game on Jan. 26, the team confirmed Friday.
A statement from the Celtics read:
On January 26, we were alerted by DeMarcus Cousins that a fan had used racially offensive language towards him. Immediately upon receiving the complaint, the fan, who was a minor, was ejected. The following day, per our policy regarding any reported fan behavior complaint, the team initiated an exhaustive investigation of the incident that included reviewing video from multiple angles and identifying and interviewing numerous fans, security personnel, and police in the immediate vicinity.
In the course of this investigation, we were able to conclude that the fan had been verbally abusive toward the Golden State bench, but none of the interviewed parties were able to verify the use of racially offensive language, and video evidence proved inconclusive. Based on our investigation, the fan was issued a two-year ban from all Celtics games, and is also subject to lifetime probation pursuant to our policy. The punishment for any corroborated discriminatory language used towards any player, employee, or fan at a Celtics home game is a lifetime ban.
We were in contact with the Golden State Warriors through this process, sharing our action plan and the final discipline. We express the deepest regrets that this incident happened to DeMarcus, as such behavior violates everything the Boston Celtics have always stood for.
Cousins told Yahoo earlier this week it’s not uncommon to hear similar slurs from the stands throughout the season.
“Oh, I’ve been called n—,” Cousins said. “And it’s crazy because this has happened to me on a few occasions. I reported it to the league, and, you know, I may have said whatever I said back and I was still punished for it. But obviously it became a bigger issue when it was [Russell Westbrook], and he was still fined for it. I don’t really understand it. We’re the product. We push this league, so I don’t understand. When does our safety, when does it become important?”
Cousins didn’t call out particular cities, but did say “there are ignorant individuals in every city.”
Cousins’ comments come in the aftermath of Westbrook’s highly publicized shouting match with Utah Jazz fan Shane Keisel earlier this month. Keisel allegedly told Westbrook to “Get on your knees like you’re used to,” prompting Westbrook to responded by telling Keisel and his wife, “I’ll f— you up.”
“I think it kind of went viral with the whole Russ thing,” Cousins said of the new focus on fan behavior in the NBA. “I’m sure that played a part in it. He’s had multiple instances in that same city. You even got the one clip of the guy flipping Russ off. Like, when does the game get that serious for a fan? Why are you that angry? This dude is literally out there putting a ball through a hoop. How do you get that angry?”
The Jazz permanently banned Keisel from Vivint Smart Home Arena, along with another fan who was captured on camera calling Westbrook “boy” during a 2018 playoff game.