Irving was asked Tuesday night after the Nets’ Game 2 win what he expected in his latest return to TD Garden and in a heightened atmosphere. Irving noted that it wasn’t his first time back playing in Boston against the Celtics, but he hoped for at least one thing.
“So I’m just looking forward to competing with my teammates and hopefully we can just keep it strictly basketball, there’s no belligerence or any racism going on, subtle racism and people yelling (stuff) from the crowd,” he said. “But even if it is, it’s part of the nature of the game and we’re just going to focus on what we can control.”
He was then asked whether he experienced something like that before.
“I’m not the only one that could attest to this, but it is what it is. The whole world knows.”
Irving played for the Celtics from 2017 to 2019.
Irving isn’t the only professional athlete to share alleged racist experiences while playing in front of fans in Boston.
Former Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones notably had a racist experience while playing at Fenway Park in 2017. He said at the time fans were calling him the N-word and throwing peanuts at him.
According to NBC Sports Boston, Torii Hunter had a no-trade clause to Boston in his contract because of alleged racist experiences.
Game 3 is set for Friday night at 8:30 p.m. ET.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.