COMMENTARY | They say that all is fair in love and basketball. But are there unwritten rules to trash-talking, with lines that players simply should not cross? Or, is it fine for athletes to say things on the court that they would never say off of it? Perhaps that somehow puts it into perspective– when a player is generally a “good guy” in real life, but a beast in between the lines.
Players normally talk trash in order to get into the head of an opponent or perhaps even get themselves going. The Boston Celtic’s Kevin Garnett is arguably the master at this. It’s strange, how we can witness him overcome with sincere passion after winning his first NBA Championship or in a tearful embrace with Houston Rockets’ head coach Kevin McHale after the passing of McHale’s daughter, to hearing of absolutely heinous things he allegedly says to opposing players during games. So heinous, that it begs the question of whether or not KG goes a bit too far as a number of players have taken exception.
Carmelo Anthony is the latest player to be offended by Garnett’s reckless chatter, arguing that there are just some things a man should not say to another man. Rumor has it that KG made a derogatory comment about his wife, LaLa Vasquez. Anthony was so upset that he even went to meet Garnett at the Celtic’s team bus after the game. Here is where there is cause for concern. Something said on the basketball court in the heat of battle was carried over into real, off-the-court life.
Of course, this is not Garnett’s first case of getting all the way under an opposing player’s skin with his mouth. There was that instance where Charlie Villanueva, who suffers from alopecia universalis, says he called him a “cancer patient” due to his bald head, which is a result of the condition. There was also that time KG, again allegedly, told Tim Duncan “Happy Mother’s Day,” knowing that his mother died of breast cancer when he was 14.
If Garnett did in fact say these things, and surely a great deal more that we are unaware of, any reasonable person would agree that it is downright disrespectful. KG is one of the most intense players in the league. Maybe this intensity gets the better of him, to the point where he is willing to gain an advantage over opponents, however slight, by any means necessary. And if after the contest a player is still talking and thinking about something Garnett said, he gained this advantage. He won.
So then the issue comes back to whether or not Garnett’s over-the-top trash talk is acceptable. Should the league intervene? When you have players looking to confront him after games, this is a valid question. KG is not hurting anyone, physically at least. He is also not known for getting into trouble or being a bad guy off the court. This is basketball warfare. In which case, many would argue that anything goes and what happens on the court, should stay on the court.
Acamea Deadwiler is a Chicago-area native with several years experience covering the NBA for Examiner.com. She has also been featured in Bounce magazine, SLAM Online, and various other publications. Follow Acamea on Twitter @AcameaLD.
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