Sunday’s game between the Celtics and Cavs revealed no love lost between the two teams. Play was chippy, tempers ran high, and profane strings of trash talk could be heard all over the court. Let’s put it this way: Nobody contemplated delivering an Easter basket to the opposing team after the game.
And that’s just how Doc Rivers likes it. (Boston Herald)
“Well, I like the hatred,” Rivers said. “I think that’s good. I do think the two teams don’t like each other for whatever reason, and I don’t ever think that’s a bad thing personally. I think that’s a good thing.”
Told that James believes the NBA needs to rekindle the nastiness between teams of ’80s and ’90s, Rivers said, “I’m all for it. I love it. He’s the new leader. I think we should all listen to LeBron if that’s what he’s saying. I really believe that.”
The coach then traced the peace on NBA earth back to AAU ball when players become friendly.
“It drives me nuts,” he said, “but that’s just the way it is. I used to fight that my first couple of years here and in Orlando. In Orlando I went so far as if you shake a guy’s hand before a game I’m going to fine you. I was trying everything. Then I realized it doesn’t work. They know each other. They’re friends. So I gave in.”
It’s odd how Rivers has evolved from a coach strict enough to fine a player for shaking hands before the game into the ultimate “players’ coach.” But, for this group, I think it’s for the better. Veterans who have been in the league forever don’t need to be micromanaged. If Doc slapped Ray Allen with a fine for saying what’s up to fellow UConn alum Ben Gordon, he might risk losing Allen’s respect.
Back to Doc, I love the emerging hostility between the Celtics and Cavs. It pains me to see players help opponents up after knocking them down. That’s why I was so jarred when my cousin pointed out that Larry Bird help Kurt Rambis up after Kevin McHale clotheslined Rambis. Bird has always been known as the one of the fiercest competitors ever, someone who wouldn’t even speak to Magic Johnson for large parts of their careers, simply because Johnson was a rival. But there he was, calmly extending his hand to Rambis as chaos ensued around them. I don’t want to say I was disappointed in Bird, because he’s Larry Legend and the idol I’ve looked up to for so many years, but I would have loved to see him walk right by Rambis and into the fracas.
For the same reason I would rather see Bird spit on Rambis’s face than help him up, I loved that Duke’s Lance Thomas let Butler’s Gordon Hayward find his own way to his feet after Thomas’ hard foul knocked him to the floor in yesterday’s National Championship. There’s no need to help him up; if you’re a true competitor, you want to see Hayward stay on the floor as long as possible. You want him to think you’ll foul him even harder the next time. You want him to know you aren’t going to give him an inch, not even during a stoppage in play.
When it comes to basketball, and especially in big games, Eff sportsmanship.