The Boston Celtics fan who threw a water bottle at Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving on Sunday night has been identified as Cole Buckley, 21, of Braintree, Massachusetts, according to the Boston Police Department. Buckley faces one count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon in Boston Municipal Court on Tuesday.
Buckley allegedly threw a bottle of Dasani water in the direction of Irving as the Nets star entered the tunnel to leave the court following a 39-point performance in a 141-126 victory against the Celtics at TD Garden.
According to police records, security located the individual in question, and a police officer on detail at the arena arrested Buckley as the suspect. A witness from TD Garden security told police the water bottle grazed Irving's head. A member of Nets security also witnessed the incident, which was caught on video.
Asked directly on Sunday night if the water bottle hit him, Irving responded in a conference call, "It doesn't matter, honestly. ... Anything could've happened with that water bottle being thrown at me, but my brothers were surrounding me, I had people in the crowd, so I'm just trying to get home to my wife and my kids."
TD Garden is cooperating with Boston police and has issued a lifetime ban of Buckley.
"We will support and provide assistance to Boston Police as this incident is under review," TD Garden spokesperson Tricia McCorkle said in a statement issued following the game. "We have zero tolerance for violations of our guest code of conduct, and the guest is subject to a lifetime ban from TD Garden."
After the Nets took a 2-0 lead in their first-round series with the Celtics, Irving publicly expressed reservations about playing in front of Boston fans for the first time since leaving the team in 2019.
"Hopefully we can just keep it strictly basketball," Irving told reporters on a conference call on Tuesday. "There's no belligerence or any racism going on — subtle racism and people yelling s*** from the crowd."
Irving was booed every time he touched the ball and showered with chants ranging from "f*** you Kyrie" and "Kyrie sucks" throughout Games 3 and 4 in Boston. Until the water bottle-throwing incident, Irving took the jeers in stride, even egging on the crowd as he struggled during a loss to the Celtics on Friday. He casually stepped on the head of the leprechaun in the Celtics logo at center court after the Game 4 win.
The alleged assault crossed the line beyond basketball, Irving said.
"It's been that way in history in terms of entertainment and performers in sports for a long period of time," Irving added on Sunday night, "and just underlying racism and treating people like they're in a human zoo. Throwing stuff at people. Saying things. There's a certain point where it gets to be too much. I called it out. I wanted to keep it strictly basketball, and then you just see that people just feel very entitled out here.
"They pay for their tickets — great, I'm grateful that they're coming in to watch a great performance — but we're not at the theater. We're not throwing tomatoes and other random stuff at the people who are performing. It's too much, and it's a reflection on us as a whole when you have fans acting like that."
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