The frustration in the Bobcats locker room reached a boiling point not just because of the loss, but because of the way the Celtics acted while handing them a 24-point beating.
Stephen Jackson captured the mood of a locker room that was more or less livid because of trash-talk they felt was taken to the extreme, addressing what he felt was a matter of disrespect by the Celtics throughout the course of the game.
“I can take getting beat, if it’s about basketball,” said Jackson. “But when it gets to a point where you’re being personal and being disrespectful as a man to another man, that’s when I have a problem.”
Jackson got into a dust-up with Paul Pierce in the third quarter that led to double-technicals. Jackson was fouled by Ray Allen, words were exchanged and ultimately Gerald Wallace had to hold Jackson back from going after Pierce.
Pierce explained to reporters afterwards, “I don’t know how it started. I just thought that Ray was playing good on him. I didn’t think it was a foul on him and I was just saying, ‘Good D, Ray.’ You know how Stephen is, he is a fiery guy. That is just how he is. He is a competitor. I love to watch him play. It was just both of our competitiveness coming out. It was nothing more than that.”
Jackson said, “It turned disrespectful when certain things were said. You can be emotional, talk to your teammates and do all that, but when it’s getting personal, and you’re directing certain things at people as far as their manhood that’s when a problem comes up. And I guarantee you, if I wasn’t in this gym that wouldn’t have said that to me.”
Mid-answer, however, a Bobcats media relations member cut Jackson off, asking that all questions pertain to the game, even though the on-court conduct was what Jackson was addressing. Jackson and Pierce both acknowledged that they were friends off the court. Jackson is also friends Marquis Daniels, who was in Jackson’s wedding. Jackson’s issue was solely with the lack of respect on the court.
“Everybody, knows me as a basketball player,” Jackson said. “But everybody knows me off the court, too. So if it’s about basketball, I’m cool. I respect everybody on their team, and I respect them as being a good team. But when it gets to the point where you’re disrespecting us as a man, that’s another problem. As far as the game, they were the better team.”
A year ago, the Celtics handed New York a 110-101 loss and the trash-talk angered several players including then-Knick Quentin Richardson, who said, “They won the game. but I think a few of those guys know that they can’t just say anything to us.”