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Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving raised eyebrows earlier this week when he hoped there would be no “subtle racism” as the team’s playoff series against the Celtics shifted to Boston.
Danny Ainge, the Celtics’ general manager and president of basketball operations who played more than seven years in Boston, said Thursday he never heard any racism allegations coming from a Celtics player.
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“I think that we take those kind of things seriously,” Ainge said on 98.5 The Sports Hub. “I never heard any of that, from any player that I’ve ever played with in my 26 years in Boston. I never heard that before from Kyrie and I talked to him quite a bit.”
Ainge must’ve missed the Celtics’ Marcus Smart’s comments in The Players’ Tribune in 2020.
Smart wrote about a particular incident “that stuck with me the most.” He said he was called the N-word by a woman who was wearing a Celtics jersey.
Smart added Thursday he did hear racist comments coming from fans at TD Garden.
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“I’ve heard a couple of things. It’s hard to hear that and then have them support us as players. It’s kind of sad and sickening,” he told reporters, via Yahoo Sports.
Irving made the initial remarks after the Nets’ Game 2 win. Irving played two years in Boston and has primarily played in the Eastern Conference during his career.
“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.
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“I’m not the only one that could attest to this, but it is what it is. The whole world knows.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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