A Boston Celtics fan reportedly has been banned from the Garden for two years after muttering a racial slur at Golden State Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

The incident occurred on January 26, 2019, during the Warriors lone regular season visit to Boston.

The fan has been banned for the remainder of this season and next season.

The Celtics released the following statement Friday:

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.

This happens more often than you would think. 

Celtics star Kyrie Irving spoke out about it: 

“Really what matters is just treating people with respect,” Irving said. “That’s really what it comes down to. In sports, there really gets a gray area where sometimes fans can say really hurtful things. They treat us — and I say some fans, not all fans. I’m just saying sometimes instances come where it goes way beyond basketball, and that’s a personal thing. It matters to all of us because we have kids, we have families that we represent. We represent very different backgrounds. I think coming to Boston has been a very eye-opening experience for me. Just getting to experience and know Boston. I haven’t really heard too much about stuff like that. But hearing about it, it’s a little saddening. Just to happen not just in Boston, but just as an NBA player. Hearing another NBA player go through something like that is just terrible, or any athlete hearing racial slurs.”

Irving also understands that the issue at hand extends well beyond the basketball court.

“Racism still exists in our society. It happens every day,” Irving said. “I don’t want to limit it to just us athletes. A lot of people go through a lot of racial tension. It’s a terrible thing in our society. …At one point or another, things happen like that and I don’t want that to ever happen to anyone. Whether you’re walking down the street or playing in an NBA basketball game, in today’s society there’s no room for that. We can’t accept that.”

Unfortunately Sports will never be immune to society’s problems. 

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