Why are confrontations between sports fans and players up recently?

BOSTON — Sadly, the incidents keep getting more dangerous. Sunday night may have been the first and last Celtics game this season with a full crowd, but that wasn’t the headline. Unfortunately, the headline was about the bottle thrown millimeters away from former Celtic Kyrie Irving’s head.

“The environment was exactly what you expect, very loud, a lot of fans were booing Kyrie Irving every time he got the ball,” said Timmy King, who was at the Celtics game.

But the chants turned criminal once police arrested that fan.

“This is something we’ve seen a lot in history, underlying racism,” said Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets. “I called it out, I just wanted to keep this strictly basketball. Anything could’ve happened with that water bottle.”

Then, Monday night, another incident in an NBA game. This time in Washington as a fan tried to rush the court. Security tackled him before he got to any Wizards or Philadelphia 76ers players. In the last week, we’ve also seen fans throw popcorn at an injured Russell Westbrook, spit on Trae Young as he inbounded the ball, and racially heckle the parents of Ja Morant.

>>>PREVIOUS: Kyrie Irving nearly hit with water bottle, Celtics fan arrested

Cambridge psychiatrist Dr. Marni Chanoff said the pandemic and racial tensions of the last year have led to the increase in problematic fan behavior.

“Some people are facing their own range of feelings around that, which may not be very welcoming,” Chanoff said. “People are scared. People are not for it. And so, when you have all of these charged emotions and then you add on, on top of that, the contagion of emotion in an arena of 17,000 people, this is a time of great transition and highly charged emotions.”

“You got a bunch of people the whole game, drinking the whole game, their team loses, their team’s down, something happens, at least one person is bound to do something,” King said. “Kyrie was a jerk to Boston fans. Kyrie stomped on the logo after the game, everyone in Boston has a right to hate him. I’m not saying it’s good someone threw something at him, I’m not saying that’s good, but I’m not saying it’s horrible. It was expected, probably someone was going to do something, everyone was drunk everyone enjoyed the night.”

“We claim that we care about each other as human beings, but, you know, we just call things out before they happen like I did the other day and like I’m telling people just keep the basketball and then you have things that happened at the Garden,” Irving said. “You got things happening in Utah, and you know there’s a lot of history there.”

Boston 25 News went by that fan’s house today for comment but were asked to leave.

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