Thursday, January 10, 2013
Doc Rivers defends Kevin Garnett
By Greg Payne
Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Thursday morning that forward Kevin Garnett did not include Carmelo Anthony's wife in trash talking during Monday's victory over the New York Knicks, as has been rumored.
"Well, No. 1, I know what's been reported did not happen," Rivers said adamantly during his weekly interview on Boston sports radio station WEEI. "I know that as a fact."
Pressed further on Garnett's rumored remarks, Rivers said: "That did not happen."
Garnett and Anthony were called for double technicals in Monday's game for jawing at each other on the court, an argument that extended to the tunnel of Madison Square Garden after the game. Anthony was suspended Wednesday for confronting Garnett after the game and approaching him at the Celtics' team bus.
Rivers chalked up the incident to Anthony trying to deflect attention back to Garnett.
"Guys, you know how this works," Rivers said. "A guy does something crazy like Carmelo did, and the way to get out of trouble is to say, 'Well, he said this.' It happens all the time, and what bugs me about this whole thing is this is not a Kevin Garnett issue. And it was made into one, and it shouldn't have been made into one."
Rivers did admit that players can cross the line when it comes to trash talking, particularly if the language is racial in nature or is directed at another player's family, but he said Garnett knows where that line is and doesn't cross it.
"It's pretty crude, I can tell you," Rivers said. "Out there at times, you hear some crazy stuff. But when it gets racial or personal to family, then that crosses the line. But I'm going to say it again: In this case, that didn't happen.
"(Garnett) does (know where the line is). He does. I will say that. I've never heard him cross the line. And usually when he talks about guys, it's usually about their game or their team or what he thinks if the guy's a winner or loser."
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge weighed in on the Garnett-Anthony issue during his own appearance on WEEI on Thursday, saying he was more concerned with the safety of his players than the actual trash talking on the floor.
"Well, you know, I'm not really concerned about what players are saying on the court," Ainge said. "I mean, I've been involved in so many big games and so much talking going on. I, first of all, can't imagine that anybody lets anybody ... I don't care what it is on the court, in the heat of battle, bother you. That's the first thing. So, I'm not worried about that from our team standpoint or our players. Second of all, my concerns are more just security and issues revolving around postgame and the safety of my players. I'm not so much worried about all the shenanigans that are going on."
Asked further about why Garnett has received such heavy criticism for his reported remarks about Anthony's wife, Ainge offered: "I don't know. I'm just telling you my perspective, and my perspective is I would be embarrassed if somebody said something that threw me off my game."
Ainge said he wasn't sure if the one-game suspension Anthony was dealt by the NBA was warranted, but he did acknowledge that punishments need to be put in place to help prevent incidents such as these in the future.
"Well, you know, I think that this is a first-time incident of this type of situation, and they're making it a first-time warning to the whole league," Ainge said. "You don't confront players in the locker room or by the bus after games, and if you do, you get suspended. The next time anybody does it, it'll be a much bigger suspension, I'm sure."
Rivers also admitted during Thursday's radio spot that he was displeased with Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry for reportedly handing over video of Rajon Rondo making contact with referee Rodney Mott during last Saturday's win against the Hawks to another game official. Rondo was later suspended a game for bumping the ref and failing to cooperate with a league investigation.
"Well, I do (have a problem with it)," Rivers said. "Guys do that. I rarely do that. I don't know if I've ever done that -- I've been in the league awhile -- where you're turning other players in and stuff. I don't know. I don't like it, but it's his choice."
Asked whether he was satisfied with Ferry being fined $15,000 by the NBA, Rivers said: "You know, I don't care. I really don't. It didn't bother me one way or the other. I just didn't like it, especially in a game like that. That wasn't the reason they lost, you know? So to me that is sour grapes, and I don't like that."
Ainge also touched on Rondo's one-game suspension, saying he was surprised by the league's decision and felt it was an overreaction.
"I think that that's an overreaction, personally," Ainge said. "But, I wasn't involved in the investigation and I don't know all the details. I did talk with the league about all of this, and I don't know what their decision was. I'm just telling you what I believe it was. I think it was a combination of both and I don't agree with it."
He later added: "I think that it was the combination of Rondo's history with the officials and with the lack of cooperation with the investigation, yeah. Let's put it this way: If that had been Avery Bradley, I don't think anybody would have noticed."
As for Ferry's involvement in Rondo's suspension, Ainge hesitated to pass judgement.
"I have never snitched, no, and I don't know, I'm not even going to comment on that, because I have no idea what was reported, if there's any validity to it," he said. "So, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt."
Greg Payne is a regular contributor to ESPNBoston.com