Celtics coach Doc Rivers came to the defense of Kevin Garnett this evening and lashed out at Charlie Villanueva's use of Twitter to describe words between players on the court.
"I'm not going to go off on a tangent about this whole thing," said Rivers. "I actually heard what Kevin said. I was standing right there, and what he released was what he said. I'm gonna leave it at that."
Villanueva accused Garnett on Twitter of calling him a "cancer patient". Garnett released a statement today saying Villanueva had his words mixed up:
“I am aware there was a major miscommunication regarding something I said on the court last night. My comment to Charlie Villanueva was in fact ‘You are cancerous to your team and our league.’ I would never be insensitive to the brave struggle that cancer patients endure. I have lost loved ones to this deadly disease and have a family member currently undergoing treatment. I would never say anything that distasteful. The game of life is far bigger than the game of basketball.”
The game of basketball is exactly what had Rivers so fired up. Rivers talked about the trash talk Larry Bird used to spew at him back in Rivers's playing days, and said that -- in essence -- what happens on the court should stay on the court.
"I don't like the whole tweeting thing," said Rivers. "I'll state that as well. Guys talk on the court. It doesn't mean they should or shouldn't. The fact that we're talking about this, to me, is just silly. This isn't something we should be talking about. We had a hell of a game yesterday, let's talk about basketball. It's amazing to me that this stuff is news now. This is not sports."
He added, "I used to play, and I can't imagine us running and talking about what was said."
Garnett, per usual, did not speak to reporters before the game, though he did make his customary pass through the locker room. As he walked, Ray Allen was answering questions on KG's trash-talking at another locker. Allen said he didn't hear what Garnett said last night, but that trash talking works for some players, and that lots of things are said.
"It's not only interesting what's said between players, but what you hear from fans," said Allen. "Some of the things that come from fans' mouths, you don't want to repeat that either ... I don't want a mic on those guys. You have an opportunity to hear some things that you don't want to hear, but that's the heat of the battle. That's the competition. I don't think the things that are said on the floor need to be transcribed to TV or the print."
Central to this whole issue is Villanueva's use of Twitter to express his views. Villanueva is something of a Twitter pioneer, having been the first to tweet during halftime of an NBA game, forcing the league to create a policy on the matter. Allen had a Twitter account, but said he closed it because of things people were saying about his family.
Rivers does not have a Twitter account, but he did say he warned his players about saying too much.
"We tell them it's your life, have fun with it and all that," said Rivers. "But what goes on on the team stays on the team. This is a new generation, and we're going to continue to have problems with this until we figure it out."