Nov 3, 2010, 4:01 PM EDT
If you’ve ever sat near the court for a Kevin Garnett Celtics game, you know this — the man talks a lot of trash. A lot. Some genuinely nasty, personal stuff. He uses it to intimidate and to fire himself up.
Charlie Villanueva thought KG crossed the line last night and called him on it, tweeting that Garnett called him a “cancer patient” during the Celtics thumping of Detroit last night. We don’t know if Garnett actually said that, he and the Celtics have yet to comment. But if you’ve heard KG on the court, it is believable.
Villanueva suffers from alopecia universalis, a condition that includes total body hair loss. He does a lot of charity work on behalf of those with the condition.
Plus, cancer is an area that should be off limits. KG is a quality person and leader who has another persona on the court. Some, such as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo call him a bully once he steps onto the hardwood. However you choose to describe him, KG is going to get backlash for this, as he should. He should pay a price.
But that price should not be from the league. There can be no fine or suspension from the league office.
Technically they could — there can be fines or a suspension, and there are some fans and people out there calling for that right now.
But what Garnett is a vocal practitioner of is common in the NBA. Guys get on each other. Hard. Mountains of trash talk fly around an on an NBA court. It is vicious and nothing is sacred — questioning manhood, family and everything else goes on. Nightly. And has for generations — Michael Jordan was ruthless with his mouth just like his game. Same with Larry Bird. And so on and so on…
If you fine or suspend Garnett for this comment, you are on a slippery slope. A derogatory term for homosexuals gets used during games often, is that worthy of a fine every time? Curse words? Only when a referee hears it?
If you thought the new technical foul enforcement was ludicrous, this would dwarf it with problems. Trash talk takes place on playground courts, high school gyms and the YMCA. Guys grew up doing it. Then they get to the NBA and have to be saints?
There was a time when this could be enforced on the court. When Villanueva or a team’s designated enforcer could inflict some physical pain on Garnett for these antics, and said enforcer would get tossed for the game for it. And that was all. So teams had enforcers. Now the fines and suspensions make that kind of retribution impossible.
Trash talk is part of the game. You don’t have to like it. But you can’t fine and suspend for it, not even over-the-line comments about cancer.
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