Fans treating players ‘like human zoo’

June 1, 2021
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    Kyrie IrvingKyrie Irving scored 39 points in the Nets' win over the Boston Celtics

    Kyrie Irving said fans in NBA arenas are treating players "like they are in a human zoo" after a supporter was arrested for throwing a water bottle at the Brooklyn Nets guard on Sunday.

    The bottle narrowly missed Irving as he left the court following the Nets' 141-126 win over the Boston Celtics.

    It comes as five spectators were given indefinite bans after separate incidents last week.

    Irving said the sport was now "at a crossroads".

    "It's been that way for entertainment for a long time with underlying racism and just treating people like they are in a human zoo," he said.

    Last week, the Washington Wizards point guard Russell Westbrook had to be restrained by security after a fan poured popcorn over him.

    The Atlanta Hawks' Trae Young was spat on while three fans of the Utah Jazz were removed from the arena after heckling the family of the Memphis Grizzlies' Ja Morant.

    Irving's Nets team-mate Kevin Durant said fans need to "grow up".

    "We are not animals, we are not in the circus," he said. "You coming to the game is not all about you as a fan. So, have some respect for the game."

    Irving scored 39 points as the Nets took a 3-1 play-off series lead with the win over his former side.

    Elsewhere in Sunday's games, the Phoenix Suns beat the Los Angeles Lakers 100-92 to level their play-off series at 2-2.

    The Lakers lost forward Anthony Davis to a groin injury late in the second quarter, allowing the Suns to take control in the second half.

    They stretched their lead to 16 points in the third quarter and a late rally from the hosts, led by top-scoring LeBron James, was not enough.

    The Los Angeles Clippers also drew level at 2-2 in their series with the Dallas Mavericks, winning game four 106-81.

    Kawhi Leonard scored 29 points and added 10 rebounds to lead the Clippers, with team-mate Paul George adding 20 points.

    Earlier, the Atlanta Hawks beat the New York Knicks 113-96.

    The Hawks now lead the best-of-seven series 3-1 and are one game away from the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

    Young – who scored 21 points and added 14 assists in the previous game – starred again with 27 points and the win leaves Atlanta with the longest active home winning streak in the NBA, at 13 games.

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