The Boston Celtics banned a fan who directed verbal abuse toward the Warriors’ DeMarcus Cousins for the rest of this season and all of next season, the team confirmed. The ban was first reported by Yahoo’s Chris B. Haynes.
The incident occurred Jan. 26, when Golden State visited Boston at TD Garden. Haynes said Cousins alerted security, who ejected the fan from the stadium.
The Warriors confirmed that they had been told about the fan’s punishment, Boston.com’s Nicole Yang reported.
The Celtics issued a statement on the matter on Friday afternoon, noting that the fan was a minor and confirming that the suspension is for two years and “is also subject to lifetime probation pursuant to our policy.” The team added that it “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,” but that while it concluded “that the fan had been verbally abusive toward the Golden State bench, none of the interviewed parties were able to verify the use of racially offensive language, and video evidence proved inconclusive.”
The sanction is light compared with punishments handed out recently by the Utah Jazz, which banned two fans from its stadium permanently over incidents involving Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder. One fan called Westbrook “boy” during the first round of the 2018 playoffs. Another told him to “get down on [your] knees like you used to,” according to Thunder teammate Patrick Patterson.
“This should never happen. We are not a racist community,” owner Gail Miller told the crowd at a Jazz home game after the latter fan had been banned. “We believe in treating people with courtesy and respect as human beings. From time to time, individual fans exhibit poor behavior and forget their manners. Some disrespect players on other teams. When that happens, I want to jump up and shout, ‘Stop!’ We have a code of conduct in this arena. It will be strictly enforced.”
Because of such incidents, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issued a memo reminding teams to clearly state and strictly enforce their code of conduct policies governing fan misbehavior.
The punishment of the Celtics fan also was light compared with sanctions doled out in the past by the Boston Red Sox, who in 2017 banned a fan for life after he used a racial slur toward another spectator during a game at Fenway Park.