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Ainge fined $25,000 for towel toss

5/6/2010

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The NBA fined Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge $25,000 for throwing a towel in attempt to distract a Cleveland shooter during Boston's Game 2 triumph Monday at Quicken Loans Arena.

Ainge earned the fine for creating an unauthorized distraction and for conduct detrimental to the game, NBA executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Stu Jackson announced Thursday.

With 1:53 remaining in the third quarter, Ainge tossed a white towel in the air from the baseline beyond one hoop attempting to distract Cleveland's J.J. Hickson as he shot the second of two free throws with Boston on top, 80-57.

Hickson missed the first free throw after Ainge simply made a motion near his seat behind the basket. Hickson made the second free throw when Ainge tossed the towel skyward.

On Wednesday, Ainge expressed regret for the incident and noted he expected to be fined by the league for his actions.

"I regret that. That was very unprofessional," Ainge said during an interview on Boston sports radio station WEEI. "I was having fun with the hecklers and the crowd that was sitting around me. ... There's just no excuse. It was unprofessional. I regret doing it. The biggest reason I regret it is you guys should be talking about the great play of the Celtics and not talking about a towel incident. I'm shocked that it's become this big a deal."

"Usually when things become public like this you do hear from the league. I don't think David Stern cares about a towel that was thrown, but because it's become such a public story I'm sure there will be something. I'd like to give my charitable contributions to those of my own choice, but I am confident the league does well with our money."

Earlier Wednesday, Celtics coach Doc Rivers and his players simply laughed off the incident.

"Comical," said Rivers. "I didn't know about it, honestly. I was up in my bedroom doing my work and my cell phone kept ringing, over and over again. ... When I saw it, I got a good laugh and giggle out of it. Danny's going back to his playing days. It's pretty comical."

Ainge did his best to antagonize opponents throughout his 15-year NBA career, which included stops in Boston, Sacramento, Portland, and Phoenix. Atlanta's Tree Rollins once got so mad at Ainge that he bit him. As a coach, Ainge once punted a ball into the crowd after being ejected in 1999, and one of his own players, Robert Horry, once drew a two-game suspension for throwing -- ironically -- a towel at Ainge in 1997.

"That was interesting to see that happen during the flow of the game, from Danny Ainge," Mike Brown told reporters Tuesday in Cleveland. "If it's within the rules, hey, at this time, you do whatever you can to win. As long as it's within the rules."

Evidently it wasn't within the rules.

Ainge hasn't been directly fined by the league since Feb. 10, 1999, when he was the head coach of the Phoenix Suns. The NBA docked him $3,000 for kicking a basketball into the stands after being ejected from a game against the Sacramento Kings.

Ironically, Phoenix suspended Robert Horry for two games without pay for throwing a towel at Ainge after he was pulled from a game against Boston in 1997.

The Celtics were fined $30,000 in March of 2007 for excessive contact with the family of then Texas underclassmen Kevin Durant, after Ainge sat next to Durant's mother at the Big 12 tournament.

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