Woj: Danny Ainge's Comments About Racism in Boston 'Shocked' People Around NBA

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIMay 29, 2021

Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge prior to the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, May 11, 2021, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
AP Photo/Charles Krupa

People in the NBA were "shocked" after hearing Boston Celtics president of basketball operations and general manager Danny Ainge's recent comments that he had never heard about any problems with players experiencing racism in Boston.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski provided that report on NBA Countdown prior to the Celtics' Game 3 matchup Friday against the visiting Brooklyn Nets for their first-round playoff series.

Ainge's comments were in response to Nets point guard (and ex-Celtic) Kyrie Irving's remarks strongly implying that he's experienced racism in Boston:

Jared Weiss @JaredWeissNBA

Kyrie Irving says he hopes he doesn't receive racial abuse from the crowd in Boston when he returns on Friday, making it pretty clear it's happened before. <br><br>"Hopefully we can just keep it strictly basketball, there's no belligerence or any racism going on." pic.twitter.com/EifwUtTMFF

Ainge, who played for the C's from 1981-1989 and has worked in the front office since 2003, said this to 98.5 The Sports Hub (h/t Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston):

"I think that we take those kind of things seriously. 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. So, I don't know. As far as I'm concerned, it doesn't matter. We're just playing basketball. Players can say what they want."

That isn't the opinion of others, including Celtics guard Marcus Smart.

"I've heard a couple of them," Smart said regarding racial slurs in Boston, per Tom Westerholm of Boston.com:

"It's kind of sad and sickening. Even though it's an opposing team, we've had guys on your home team that you're saying these racial slurs and you expect us to go out here and play for you. It's tough.

"We just want everyone to be respectful, on and off the court. We want that same respect that we give to fans and the crowd to come out here and put on a good show and not to interfere in that type of manner with them. We expect the same in return from us."

Celtics guard Jaylen Brown offered his perspective as well:

Boston Celtics @celtics

.@FCHWPO has a message for everyone. pic.twitter.com/MJBAOQojGi

He said the following in part (h/t Justin Leger of NBC Sports Boston):

"I know that every Celtics fan in our arena is not a racist. We have people of all walks of life, ethnicities, colors that are diehard Celtics fans. So I think by painting every Celtics fan as a racist would be unfair. However, Boston, we've got a lot of work to do. No question. Incarceration rate is ridiculous. The wealth disparity is embarrassing. The inequality in education specifically in Boston Public Schools needs to be better. There's lack of resources there, lack of opportunity. The tokenism here in Boston needs to be addressed as well. ...

"I definitely think, Boston, we've got a lot of work to do."

As for Irving, he and the Nets hold a 2-0 series lead over Boston. The point guard was greeted with an "onslaught of boos" as he stepped onto the floor pregame, per Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News.