Trash talk, bad blood reign in NBA playoffs
Talk is cheap in these NBA playoffs, and it seems as if everyone wants in on the act.
As the stakes grew in the first round, the venom being spewed became ever more toxic. Superstars are jawing at bench players. Reserves are picking fights with superstars. Coaches are accusing opponents of being dirty. Even Carmelo Anthony's wife hasn't been afraid to talk some serious trash.
''Try again,'' La La Vazquez tweeted after Celtics reserve guard Jordan Crawford was caught on video hurling curse words toward Anthony at the end of Game 5 against the Knicks. ''You on the bench for a reason.''
Conventional wisdom says that come the postseason, the showboating, chest-thumping and smack talking takes a backseat; that players need to focus too much on the game itself to have time to worry about getting into verbal battles with their opponents. But there has been plenty of playground swagger infused in the first round at NBA arenas throughout these playoffs, and it has come back to bite the barker more often than not.
The Knicks put a Madison Avenue spin on Rucker Park-style boasting when they showed up to the Garden for Game 5 against Boston dressed in all black, planning on attending the Celtics' funeral. All it did was breathe new life into a proud, veteran team, and the Celtics rolled over New York to force a Game 6.
''Well, we was going to a funeral, but it looks like we got buried,'' Knicks guard J.R. Smith said. ''Basketball is a very humbling game.''
Crawford was jawing at Anthony as the two teams headed to the locker room, with Knicks point guard Raymond Felton stepping in and hollering right back. While the Knicks may have regretted wearing black and rebounded to eliminate the Celtics in Game 6 on Friday night, they weren't exactly apologizing for doing a little talking. They see trash talk as something that is as much a part of the game as sneakers or headbands.
''It's just something those guys like to do,'' Felton said. ''It's nothing.''
Celtics forward Kevin Garnett has made a career out of belligerently bashing his opponents with the kind of blue language that would make Tiger Woods after an errant tee shot sound like Mary Poppins. Garnett and Anthony had a heated exchange earlier this season when Garnett allegedly uttered some disrespectful comments about Vazquez, and Crawford was rumored to have targeted her as well.
''I would never talk trash about that man's wife,'' Crawford tweeted. ''I don't (know) him. All I did was respond!!''
Anthony brushed it off, saying the seldom-used guard didn't even deserve to have his name typed in a story by reporters.
''I'm not thinking about no Jordan Crawford, not at this point in time, I'll tell you that,'' Anthony said.
Knicks-Celtics is far from the only series in these playoffs that would have been right at home being broadcast on HBO. Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant was seen pounding his chest and appearing to swear toward the crowd in Houston in Game 6 on Friday night, Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson accused the Denver Nuggets of playing dirty in their series and the referees were handing out technical fouls like Halloween candy in the testy Clippers-Grizzlies series.
Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph and Clippers forward Blake Griffin got into a wrestling match in Game 6 and Clippers agitator Matt Barnes thought he got thrown out of game twice in about the last three minutes while arguing with referee Joey Crawford. Crawford allowed Barnes to stay, but tossed both Randolph and Clippers star Chris Paul as the Grizzlies closed that series out.
''I was just talking to the bench and we was exchanging words, and Joey, he don't play,'' Randolph said. ''So he tossed me.''
Neither does Jackson, who accused the Nuggets of taking shots at Warriors guard Steph Curry. The accusations actually may have brought even more heat on his star player and earned Jackson a $25,000 fine.
Curry said that the some Nuggets kept calling him ''soft'' on the court during Game 5. Even a Nuggets fan ''crossed the line'' by saying ''something stupid'' about Curry and his family when he walked off the court after in Denver, he said.
''What does that mean? I'm out there playing, been playing well all year,'' Curry said. ''It doesn't matter what people call you, what people think of you. Just get your job done. That's all I'm really worried about.''
Asked about some Nuggets possibly calling Curry soft, Jackson said it depends on who said it.
''If Mike Tyson calls him soft,'' Jackson said, ''I'd say Mike has a point.''
The second round begins on Sunday when Oklahoma City hosts Memphis for Game 1, and there are no signs of the chatter slowing down. Thunder center Kendrick Perkins and Randolph got into a confrontation during a game in November, one that allegedly carried into the back halls of the arena after the game.
When Randolph was asked about it later, he told reporters: ''I play basketball. I don't worry about all that. Perk's all right. There's a lot of bluffin' going on the court. That's all, you know? And I don't bluff.''
The Grizzlies draped towels over the seats at their arena before Memphis closed out the Clippers. The gold towels had a slogan written in blue.
''We don't bluff.''
AP Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney in New York and AP Sports Writers Antonio Gonzalez in Oakland, Calif., and Teresa M. Walker in Memphis, Tenn., contributed to this report.