Looks like the city of Boston gets them started early.
During a January 26th game against the Golden State Warriors at TD Garden — DeMarcus Cousins accused a Celtics fan of yelling the n’word at him and that fan was removed from the arena that night.
According to Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe, the fan who got identified and ousted “is younger than 18 years old and a league source said he will also be under lifetime probation, and if he violates the terms of this two-year ban, he will receive a lifetime ban.”
The source said the fact that the fan was just a minor also factored into their decision to issue a two-year ban rather than a longer one.
This is how everything played out to lead us to this point:
Yahoo! Sports initially reported the news of the ban late Thursday night, and the Celtics have faced mounting criticism since then based on a punishment that did not appear especially severe. But according to a league source, the Celtics were unable to corroborate Cousins’s claim via interviews or film reviews, and the fan vehemently denied mouthing the racial epithet at Cousins, so the team did not feel it was appropriate to issue a lifetime ban.
The source said that the male fan sitting a few rows behind the Warriors’ bench was taunting Cousins throughout the game. At one point, the source said, Cousins saw the fan mouth the n-word at him, and Warriors and TD Garden security were alerted.
The Celtics launched a multi-day investigation in which they interviewed fans who were sitting in that section and others in the bench area, and also reviewed all available video that could have shed light on the incident.
No one could corroborate Cousins’s claim, the source said. And while the video made it clear that the fan was speaking to Cousins during the game, the exact words were inconclusive. The source said that if there was any evidence that the fan had used this racist language, or if any others in the area had corroborated Cousins’s story, a lifetime ban would have been implemented.
The Celtics ultimately decided to believe Cousins and institute the two-year ban of the young fan.
“We express the deepest regrets that this incident happened to DeMarcus,” the Celtics said in a statement, “as such behavior violates everything the Boston Celtics have always stood for.”
Interactions between fans and NBA players have reached a fevered pitch this season, which resulted in the Utah Jazz banning two fans for life for their interactions with OKC Thunder Russell Westbrook.
Jazz owner Gail Miller addressed the Jazz crowd before a game against the Timberwolves:
“This should never happen,” Miller said. “We are not a racist community. 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 you to jump up and shout, ‘Stop!’ We have a code of conduct in this arena. It will be strictly enforced.”