Danny Ainge joined the Big Show on WEEI this afternoon and set his feet firmly on Kevin Garnett's side in the whole cancer controversy. Although his opponent seems as much to be Twitter as it is Charlie Villanueva:
"Well, there's one thing I know for sure, and that's KG would not offend cancer patients," said Ainge. "That makes no sense, and it makes no sense on a lot of fronts. Not only is he experiencing it in his own family, but that's not something — in 30 years [in the NBA] — I've ever heard someone say, in trash talking … for a player to say to another player 'You have cancer' or 'You are cancer'?"
Fairly definitive. But you can tell this fires up Danny:
"And the other point I'd like to make, before we move on to real basketball, is tweeting is not about an opportunity, tweeting is about self-promotion in most cases. He's [Villanueva] not trying to be a public servant by telling people about it, as a matter of fact he's the one who brings light to this attention, and if anyone is offended it's Charlie Villanueva who has brought that to attention, not KG. Second of all, Charlie would never tweet 'KG said to me I am a cancer' because that's embarrassing to Charlie. So he's tries to discredit KG and tries to bring sympathy to himself. There's self-promotion in tweeting – all the time. You are talking about a guy who tweets in the middle of a game. Talk about self-promotion. I just think this is just … we know who KG is. Talk about what you like or don't like about KG this is ludicrous."
Totally. Twitter is lame. (Immediately deletes 2,000+ tweets.)
The interesting part of this comment, though, is how Danny chooses to end it. "We know who KG is." Well, yes. We know him to be a nearly insane person on the court. We know that generally speaking the only words he uses on the court start with an M, F, or N, and usually in some combination. So I don't think the "We know who KG is" defense is particularly strong.
The rest of it, though, is plausible.
Doc was also interviewed today, and backed up the comments he made after it happened. He also, like Danny, deflected the criticism toward the communication of the incident, rather than the incident itself.
"After a game… I played the game. I couldn't imagine someone going to the press after the game because someone said something to you on the floor," Rivers said. "That's an unwritten rule that I thought that we didn't cross, and we did that the other night…"
"What he [Garnett] said on the other end and I can't vouch for but, yelling from our bench, anybody on our bench can hear him yell, 'You're a cancer, you're a cancer,' and you know trash talking happens so much in a game, and the way to handle it is you play them the next time and you try to beat them. That's the way we've always handled it."
Rivers was asked if he thought Garnett's "cancer" comments were inappropriate. "The only thing I thought, and I told Kevin this, is 'why are you talking to him?', Rivers said. "And you can actually see me yelling at Kevin because he got the double-tech…"
The trash talk must be unendingly annoying for a coach, especially knowing that the refs are quicker with the whistle now, and that double-techs are given out like 4 oz. cups of Gatorade.
Doc also illuminated what he said he heard Kevin say during the game.
"They had been talking all game, which is nothing unusual, but in front of the bench…when they got the tech, Kevin was out of the game and he looked over at the bench and you can hear Kevin yelling, " You're a cancer. You're a cancer. Everywhere you go, your team loses. You're a cancer'. And so, other than that, if he walked out, and if he had walked out on the floor and said 'You're a cancer patient' now, which I didn't hear that, or if he had said it earlier, I still would have thought he still meant the same thing. So that's the way I took it. That's the way our guys took it. I can hear them in the locker room talking about it."
I have to say, after this all happened, even as a big KG fan, I assumed Charlie was telling the truth. But the Doc and Danny defense is perfectly reasonable. I'm not saying that either side is definitely right…just that it's not open and shut.
The main takeaway from this? I love the "everywhere you go, your team loses" bomb. THAT'S trash talk. It's sensible, it's meaningful, and it's gotta sting more than your usual M-F talk (I would imagine that's easier to get past). Of course, it applies to most of the team we just played: Drew Gooden, Corey Maggette — career losers.
Hopefully this is all behind us now. Although, based on last night's performance from KG, it clearly didn't hold him back much.