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More game-misconduct penalties

BY CHRISTOPHER YOUNG

Today weíre going to talk about men behaving badly. Wait a minute. Didnít we discuss this very topic just three weeks ago?

Sadly, yes. That analysis focused on the shenanigans that plagued the Red SoxĖDevil Rays series in St. Pete last month; now weíre talking about some other miscreants.

Item A: Paul Pierce. Are Bostonians beginning to tire of the seventh-year forwardís act by now? Shouldnít Celtics fans expect more team-like production, captain-esque demeanor, and positive attitude? How about leadership, plain and simple? In Pierceís tenure with the team, he has reached the playoffs four times now, with two of those resulting in first-round exits and another being a four-game sweep in the second round at the hands of the Nets. Sure, the 2002 post-season was magical, but dropping three straight in the conference finals ó two of those at home after gaining a 2-1 edge (vs. NJ) ó was a bit confounding.

Now the Celtics have imploded against a far inferior first-round opponent, falling in seven games against the sixth-seeded Pacers. Despite Pierceís pouting for the better part of this season because of his role in the teamís playmaking, there was Doc Riversís Green team as Atlantic Division champs: healthy, stronger, and with the home-court edge in that first-round playoff match-up. Their opponent? An injured, elderly, and in some cases suspended Indy squad. After winning the opener handily, the Celts lost four of the next six, including three in a row at home, culminating in a ridiculous 27-point loss in the decisive game seven at the Fleet. Rivers has to take some of the responsibility for his teamís performance in that debacle, but Pierce nearly cost his team game six in Indy with his ill-timed ejection late in the game (and his post-game antics weren't exactly the epitome of Celtics pride, either). He then scored just 19 points (six on freebies) in the deciding game ó and en route proceeded to get another technical just for good measure. Cís fans should expect more from a guy making over $15 million a year, and given the teamís overall track record in recent years (and its 19-year title drought), itís difficult to fathom why Pierce has become one of the NBAís biggest trash-talkers night in and night out. MJ he ainít.

Item B: Antoine Walker, youíre not getting out of this unscathed, either. Just because your team won game three of that series without you doesnít excuse you from getting thrown out of game two. Walker also was a team captain prior to his 2003 trade to Dallas, and even though Pierce is the teamís sole "C"-wearer now, Walker should still have been able to exhibit more exemplary behavior than he did in earning double Ts while trying to get past a referee in the closing moments of the game-two loss. Most will admit that the addition of Walker to the Celtics in March was a turning point in the teamís season, and that his play rejuvenated the squad and helped the Cís land that division title. Still, if he really wants to stick around this team and be a part of the 2005-í06 edition of the Green, he should back off statements like the following, which he made in early March to the Boston Globeís Jackie MacMullan: "To be honest, Iím not going to live with [playing for $6 million a year]. I bring too much to the table to settle for that."

"Settle" for that. A guy whoís coming off a six-year maximum contract that has paid the 28-year-old forward $84 million to play hoops seven-plus months a year.

Sigh.

Item C: Of course, we here in championland should be glad that we donít have to deal with the Philadelphia Eaglesí problem. The NFC champs now have to face the fact that perennial troublemaker Terrell Owens, arguably the teamís best player, now wants to tear up the seven-year, $49 million contract he just signed last spring and renegotiate. This after the petulant wideout demanded a trade out of San Francisco last spring, got traded to Baltimore, refused to report, and then gleefully accepted another deal to the Eagles. Owens seems to have forgotten that he missed two regular-season games and two more playoff games to injury last fall and still got his full paycheck. His gallant return in the Super Bowl was laudatory, but a dealís a deal ó especially when you claim to be a team player.

Sadly, the pair of sulking Celtics and the controversial TO have learned little about that concept of team play despite a front-row seat at perhaps the greatest story of teamwork in recent sports history. In the New England Patriotsí view, the greediness and me-first attitudes of guys like Ty Law and Terry Glenn werenít going to be tolerated. They and others have been shown the door, and yet the team continues to flourish.

The Celticsí forwards in particular need to decide if theyíre going to act like the leaders that they are and exhibit the behavior worthy of such accolades. Banner #17 isnít going to be earned and raised any time soon unless they become more Patriotic and follow this simple credo: for cryiní out loud, shut up and play.

"Sporting Eye" runs Mondays and Fridays at BostonPhoenix.com. Christopher Young can be reached at cyoung@phx.com


Issue Date: May 13, 2005
"Sporting Eye" archives: 2005 | 2004 | 2003 |2002
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