Celtics' Tristan Thompson Says He Heard Racist Remarks in Boston as Opposing Player

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVMay 28, 2021

Boston Celtics' Tristan Thompson (13) in the second half of a basketball game against the Miami Heat, Sunday, May 9, 2021, in Boston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
AP Photo/Steven Senne

Boston Celtics big man Tristan Thompson said Friday that he had racist language directed toward him from fans during his time as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

According to Jared Weiss of The Athletic, Thompson said: "My experience being a Celtic, nobody has said anything racial to me. But as a visitor, it's a different story. If they say anything like that, it comes from their home training, or lack of home training as my mother would say."

Per Weiss, Thompson expanded on his comments, saying: "There are certain cities that you can expect some racial slurs around the third quarter once someone has enough beers and they know that they're far enough from us where we can't do nothing to them."

Thompson's comments came on the heels of current Brooklyn Nets and former Celtics guard Kyrie Irving saying this week that he was hopeful Celtics fans wouldn't direct any "subtle racism" toward him in Games 3 and 4 of Brooklyn's first-round playoff series against Boston.

Per ESPN's Malika Andrews, Irving was asked if Celtics fans had ever made racist remarks to him, and he said he "was not the only one that can attest to this."

Thompson and Irving were teammates on the Cavs for six seasons from 2011-17, reaching three NBA Finals and winning one championship during that time.

The Cavaliers and Celtics were fierce rivals, but Cleveland decided to trade Irving to Boston in 2017 after Kyrie requested to be dealt.

Irving spent two seasons with the Celtics before signing with the Nets in free agency. Meanwhile, Thompson spent the first nine years of his career in Cleveland before signing with Boston this past offseason.

Celtics guard Marcus Smart echoed Irving's remarks when asked about them on Thursday: "Yeah, I've heard it. 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."

Others have alleged racist treatment from Boston sports fans over the years as well.

Last year, Celtics legend Bill Russell said Celtics fans called him racist and derogatory things during his playing career. In his 1979 memoir, Russell called Boston "a flea market of racism."

In 2017, then-Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones said Boston Red Sox fans at Fenway Park called him a racial slur as well.

Per Darren Hartwell of NBC Boston, COVID-19 restrictions are set to be lifted in Boston on Saturday, meaning events at TD Garden will be permitted to have near full capacity attendance.

The Celtics, who are trailing their first-round series against the Nets 2-0, will host Brooklyn for Game 3 on Friday and Game 4 on Sunday.