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Patriots Fans: Racist or Rabid?

In the wake of LeBron James' accusations about Boston, New England fans - and former players - are chiming in.

LeBron James says Boston sports fans are "racist as f-ck."

Former Boston Celtics forward Kenrick Perkins admits that they "do cross the line."

And New England Patriots-ex tight end Ben Watson claims "I've had plenty of racist teammates."

With its countless NBA championship banners, World Series, Super Bowls and Stanley Cups, we all know Boston is one of the winningest cities in America. But is it also among the most racist?

James re-ignited the debate this week on his "The Shop" talk show,  In the latest episode, the Los Angeles Lakers superstar was asked why he hates Boston. 

His answer: "Because they're racist as f-ck."

Those comments really aren’t anything new. A number of athletes across different sports have detailed their experiences playing in front of Boston crowds. Even Celtics players have had their run-ins with racism, dating back to Bill Russell more recently Marcus Smart.

Not new, but true?

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According to Perkins ... probably.

“The fans in Boston do cross the line and hit below the belt when it comes down to being disrespectful,” Perkins said on ESPN's First Take. “I can say throwing stuff at players like LeBron talk about the beer thrown at him. … You start to get out of bounds when you start talking about people and loved ones.”

During this year's NBA Playoffs Celtics fans got under the skin of Brooklyn Nets' guard Kyrie Irving. And in the NBA Finals, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr and star guard Klay Thompson complained about “f–k you Draymond [Green]” chants that echoed throughout TD Garden. At Pats games in Gillette Stadium, obviously, the setting isn't as intimate. In 2018, however, Kansas City Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill did get doused with beer while receiving a bevy of "No. 1" salutes.

While owner Robert Kraft has long championed equality and embraced diversity and won humanitarian awards, the Patriots accidentally stepped in a public-relations nightmare and had to apologize in 2014 for an automated response to a tweet which rewarded the team's one millionth follower ... who had a vulgar and offensive name.

Watson, who had a two-stint, seven-year career in Boston, said racism even reared its ugly head inside the locker room.

“I’ve had plenty of racist teammates," Watson said in 2020. “Of course. Racism is, it’s how we frame racism. It’s easy to say the KKK and people who say the N-word at you, that’s easy to see. But that’s not really the issue. The real racism is the one who is in his living room with his kids watching a show or talking about something in the news, and he’s saying things that when I’m talked to the kid, who is grown now, they say, ‘yeah, my father used to say this, that and the other.’ It’s not necessarily a teammate I see who tells me he’s racist – that’s not happening. But of course, we encounter racists every day.”

It should be noted that, while being repulsed by Boston fans, James did ignore the noise enough to last year become a part-owner of the Red Sox.

Whether fueled by racism or simply being rabid against opposing superstars, Perkins said the common theme is more respect, or lack thereof.

Said Perkins, "The fans are too damn disrespectful when it comes to opposing teams coming to Boston.”