Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and coach Doc Rivers were more than surprised by the NBA's suspension of Kevin Garnett for last night's 110-101 win over the Knicks.
"When I heard they were investigating it, I thought, 'Was there something that happened after the game, were there things said?' " Ainge said of the incident involving Garnett and the Bucks' Andrew Bogut Saturday night in Milwaukee. "But the act itself, I never dreamed it would warrant a suspension.
"Those kind of plays happen three times in every practice. That's a pretty common basketball play. I commend Kevin for his restraint."
Instead of a commendation, though, Garnett was suspended and fined one game's salary, about $250,000.
Garnett fouled Bogut under the basket, Bogut appearing to strike Garnett's mouth with his follow-through, Garnett pushing away. Both were assessed technicals but no further penalties on the skirmish after lead official Bennett Salvatore viewed the replay. Bogut did get ejected because it was his second T.
"I think it's a joke, honestly," Rivers said. "But they did it and we have to live with it. I'm just amazed the officials looked at the play for 5-10 minutes and didn't even think Kevin deserved more than just a technical, and the league looks at it and gives him a suspension. I just wish we had more consistency in our league, I really do.
"Usually, when there is an incident that you see on the floor, you go back and review it yourself, to make sure there was nothing, but we didn't even do that. This is not even that. It's a non-incident.
"When Danny called me to say Kevin was suspended, I thought, 'What did he do? Did he do something off the court?' I honest to gosh didn't think about it, that's how bad I think this is.
"But we have to live with it. Players get injured anyway; we look at it like Kevin is injured, and that's why we pay guys. Kevin should absolutely be playing tonight, there's no doubt about that, but he's not, so we just have to get it together and play the game."
Rivers confirmed his postgame assessment that the clash involved two players who were reluctant to fight. "As always," Rivers said. "When you watch it in slow motion, it's even worse.
"Kevin is the guy who gets hit twice in the face and he's the guy who gets suspended. I mean, Kevin's neck was turned, his head was turned, and when you watch it, he takes one hit and then another hit right across his face. If you get hit and your head's turned sideways, your reflex is just to flail, and that's what gets him suspended."
Rivers compared the play to a confrontation involving Phoenix center Shaquille O'Neal and Detroit's Rodney Stuckey Sunday. O'Neal was ejected and fined for the play, but not suspended.
"You look at Shaq's foul," Rivers said, "I hate to call out names, but where there is a hard foul on a guy who is suspended in the air, [O'Neal] gets fined. And Kevin can't play. You factor in the money Kevin loses and the suspension to two guys who had a fight in a Phoenix game, it makes no sense."
Ainge said there is an appeal process for Garnett's fine.
"But they can't rescind the game," he said.