The Boston Celtics banned one of its fans from home games for two years for allegedly using a racist slur against Golden State Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins, club officials said Friday.
The ugly incident happened at Boston's TD Garden on Jan. 26 when Cousins accused the Celtics die-hard "had used racially offensive language towards him," according to a club statement.
The fan, who is a minor, was immediately ejected, the Celtics said. The team said it's since said it has reviewed video and interviewed fans, police and security guards who possibly witnessed the incident.
"In the course of this investigation, we were able to conclude that the fan had been verbally abusive toward the Golden State bench, but none of the interviewed parties were able to verify the use of racially offensive language, and video evidence proved inconclusive," according to the Celtics.
"Based on our investigation the fan was issued a two-year ban."
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A rep for the Golden State Warriors declined comment on Friday.
Earlier in the week, Cousins told the Yahoo podcast "Posted Up with Chris Haynes" that he's been called an N-word multiple times at NBA arenas in his career, though he didn't detail when and where.
"It's a line that should not be crossed and it gets crossed often," Cousins told the podcast.
"At the end of the day, bro, our heart beats the same way yours does. We bleed the same way you bleed. Our emotions are the same as yours. You somewhere walking down the street and someone says something crazy to you, you're going to react," Cousins said.
"So just because it's a basketball event, doesn't mean those emotions go out the door, or us being a human being goes out the door. It's the same thing," he said.
The Celtics' temporary ban stands in contrast to the Utah Jazz, which in the last year kicked out two fans for life for heckling Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook.
One of the fans told Westbrook "boy" and shouted for him to “get down on your knees like you used to.”
The Celtics insisted that any proved incidents of racist taunting would earn any fan a lifetime ban.
"We are in contact with the Golden State Warriors through this process," the Celtics said. "We express the deepest regrets that this incident happened to DeMarcus."
David K. Li
David K. Li is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.