Boston Celtics: TowelGate

Ainge fined $25,000 for towel toss

May, 6, 2010
5/06/10
12:15
PM ET
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.

Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe league fined Danny Ainge $25,000 for his towel-throwing antics in Game 2 of Celtics vs. Cavs.
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.

Hop HERE to read more on the incident.

Ainge regrets TowelGate

May, 5, 2010
5/05/10
3:58
PM ET


WALTHAM, Mass. -- Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Wednesday that he regretted tossing a towel into the air to try to distract Cavaliers forward J.J. Hickson's free throw attempt in Boston's victory in Monday's Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series.

"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."

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 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.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers and his players simply laughed off the attention being given to the situation.

"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, including stops in Boston, Sacramento, Portland, and Phoenix. Atlanta's Tree Rollins once got so mad he bit Ainge. 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.

Boston players genuinely didn't know -- or at least feigned ignorance about -- the situation.

"I just heard it this morning from [Ainge]," said Pierce. "He's just a fan of the game."

Added Rajon Rondo: "I didn't know anything about it. Obviously, [Ainge] has a lot of faith in his team. That's just part of the game. [Dallas Mavericks owner Mark] Cuban does what he does. There's nothing wrong with it."

Pierce did note that he hopes the Boston fans follow Ainge's lead and bring the same intensity in Game 3, and if that means waving -- or throwing -- towels, that would be fine by him.

"Whatever the fans gotta do to get up, I'm sure they'll be real loud because I know the fans in Cleveland were real loud," said Pierce, who then turned his attention to the TV cameras in front of him. "I expect our crowd -- if you all are watching -- I expect you all to be 10-times as loud as the Cleveland crowd, because it was pretty loud in there."

While no official punishment has come down from the league yet, the NBA did say it was reviewing the matter.

"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."

Ainge, who said he expects to be fined by the league due to the attention the matter has received, noted he'll probably stick to the locker room for future games, noting he can throw as many towels as he wants back there without harm.

Click HERE to read more on Ainge's apology.

Throwing in the towel

May, 4, 2010
5/04/10
6:04
PM ET
Screenshot from TNT BroadcastA screenshot of the Game 2 television broadcast on TNT with the towel in the air on right.
No, the Celtics aren't throwing in the towel in their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the top-seeded Cavaliers. Just the opposite, it appears the team is looking for every advantage possible.

With 1:53 remaining in the third quarter of Boston's lopsided Game 2 triumph, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is shown on TNT's television replays tossing a white towel in the air from the baseline beyond one hoop attempting to distract Cleveland's J.J. Hickson as he shoots the second of two free throws with Boston on top 80-57.

NBA spokesman Tim Frank confirmed that the league is aware of the actions and was reviewing the situation Tuesday night.

"That was interesting to see that happen during the flow of the game, from Danny Ainge," Mike Brown told the Associated Press in Cleveland Tuesday. "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."

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

Click HERE to read more from the Associated Press.

Two quick thoughts: 1) While that 23-point lead got whittled to 10 in the fourth quarter, not sure Ainge needed to try to distract Hickson in that situation, especially since 2) the Cavaliers need absolutely no assistance missing from the charity stripe. Cleveland connected on just 26 of 38 freebies (68.4 percent) in Game 2 and finished dead last in the NBA for the regular season at 72 percent from the line.

Regardless of whether the Celtics are punished for Ainge's actions, it will be interesting to see if Boston fans follow the GM's lead. If the Celtics hand out rally towels before Game 3, one can envision a sellout crowd of 18,624 sending the towels skyward like former Patriot Tedy Bruschi did with snow after defensive touchdowns in Foxborough.

It also seems like Ainge has only endeared himself more to Boston fans with his actions. Right or wrong, fans like that their general manager is out there trying to do whatever he can to win a game -- even when his team is up 23 on the road.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jeff Green
PTS AST STL MIN
16.9 1.7 0.7 34.2
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsR. Rondo 9.8
StealsR. Rondo 1.3
BlocksB. Bass 0.9