A Boston Celtics fan has been arrested after throwing a water bottle at Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving as the team was leaving the floor after game four of their NBA playoff series.
The incident, which was caught on various TV cameras within the TD Garden arena, was widely condemned and is the latest in a series of incidents in which fans cross the line in their interactions with players.
'CAN'T BELIEVE IT': NBA fans gutted over brutal Anthony Davis news
'DEVASTATED': NBA rocked by legend's tragic death at 64
The fan was arrested and banned for life from the arena.
The Garden had been a hostile atmosphere for Irving, who has been seen as a villain by Celtics fans after his acrimonious exit from the team prior to the 2019-20 season.
The game was the second of the series in Boston and the first Celtics game played in front of a near-capacity TD Garden crowd since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior to the visit, Irving told reporters that he hoped for a civil reception in Boston free of "subtle racism" and focused "strictly on basketball."
When asked about the incident after the game, a disappointed Irving said it was another example of the 'subtle racism' often directed at players.
"You're seeing a lot of old ways come up," he said.
"It's been that way in history in terms of entertainment and performers in sports for a long period of time — just underlying racism and treating people like they're in a human zoo.
"Throwing stuff at people, saying things. There is a certain point where it gets to be too much."
Irving's teammate Kevin Durant was similarly furious, telling fans to 'grow the f*** up'.
"Fans gotta grow up at some point," Durant said.
"When it comes to these games, you've got to realise these men are human. We're not animals. We're not in a circus.
"Have some respect for the game. Have some respect for the human beings. And have some respect for yourself.
"Your mother wouldn't be proud of you throwing water bottles at basketball players or spitting on players or tossing popcorn. Grow the f*** up and enjoy the game. It's bigger than you."
Kyrie Irving incident latest in spate of unruly NBA fan behaviour
The opening round of the playoffs, which have seen most teams welcome an increasing number of fans back into arenas after they were banned for the majority of the coronavirus pandemic to date, has been marred by several instances of fans taking things too far.
A Philadelphia 76ers fan was thrown out and handed a life ban after pouring popcorn over Washington Wizards point guard Russell Westbrook.
A New York Knicks fans earned a life ban from Madison Square Garden for spitting on Atlanta point guard Trae Young during their game one loss to the Hawks.
The two games in New York also frequently saw Knicks fans chant 'f*** Trae Young' throughout the game.
The family of Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant were involved in an incident in which they were verbally abused by Utah Jazz fans.
The Jazz released a statement condemning the acts of the fans and warned the franchise will come down hard on any fans in breach of its guidelines.
"The Utah Jazz have zero tolerance for offensive or disruptive behaviour. An incident occurred last night involving a verbal altercation during Game 2," the Jazz said.
"Arena security staff intervened, and the investigation resulted in the removal and banning of three Jazz fans indefinitely.
"We apologise to all who were impacted by this unfortunate incident and condemn unacceptable fan behavior. The Utah Jazz are committed to ensuring a safe and respectful environment.
Watch 'Mind Games', the new series from Yahoo Sport Australia exploring the often brutal mental toil elite athletes go through in pursuit of greatness:
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.