Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart is opening up about the racism he says he encountered at the team’s home arena, TD Garden, with fans of his own team using racist insults against him earlier in his career.
Smart spoke out in support of DeMarcus Cousins, who himself was the subject of racist taunts from a fan at TD Garden, who has now been banned from the arena. The team released a statement on Friday saying that the fan directed the racial slur — reportedly the N-word — at the Golden State Warriors center.
Before Friday’s game, some members of the Boston Celtics sounded off on the incident, including coach Brad Stevens.
One of the most powerful statements came from Marcus Smart, a fan-favorite guard who said that even he was subject to racist abuse at the arena where the Celtics play. As the Boston Globe reported, Smart said he was forced to learn how to deal with racist abuse.
“I’ve dealt with a lot of things, here in my own city, and out of this city,” Smart said, via NESN. “I get it. I’ve seen it. I’m not surprised, and it has to be fixed, plain and simple.”
Marcus Smart shared more thoughts on the incident that Cousins faced. The fan in question, whose name was not released, is reportedly a minor. Smart said that the young fan had to have learned that hatred from someone.
“I blame his parents,” Smart said. “You teach that. Ignorance is taught. You’re not born with ignorance. … Some of it’s on him, but you’ve got to do a better job.”
The incident comes just weeks after the Utah Jazz banned a fan accused of using racial taunts against Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook. The incident garnered national attention as it first appeared that Westbrook engaged in an argument with the fan, though it later came out that the fan used racist language and had been accused of using racial slurs in the past as well.
UPDATED: Marcus Smart told the Globe he faced incident of racism at TD Garden early in his career, too. He was discouraged by news of DeMarcus Cousins allegedly being called racial epithet. "I get it. I’ve seen it. I’m not surprised & it has to be fixed." https://t.co/Q6YWUF8HuW— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) March 29, 2019
After that incident, some other NBA players came forward to say they too faced racial slurs and other abuse from fans.
“It’s no secret,” former Jazz guard Ronnie Price told the Salt Lake City Tribune. “The fans here are passionate, they’re great, they love their team, but there’s always — at every arena and not just in Salt Lake — a couple of individuals that seem to take it a little bit too far.”
The young Boston Celtics fan who used a racial slur toward DeMarcus Cousins has been banned from the TD Garden for two years.