The Celtics have been no strangers this season to suspensions, fines or run-ins with the league offices in New York. At this point, they're seen as the troubled kid that always ends up in the school principal's office.
So when the latest sanction from the NBA came down Thursday — a $25,000 fine to Danny Ainge for throwing a towel in the air to distract Cleveland forward J.J. Hickson on Monday night — the official team stance was one of … well, laughing it off.
"I was surprised, actually, at the fine," coach Doc Rivers said. "I know a lot of people were not. I was — because you know, he's just an employee. I mean, what's the difference between that and the mascots who do it all the time?
"I was just wondering," Rivers asked, "if Danny had worn Lucky's outfit, would he have gotten away with it?"
The Celtics' president is no mascot, but he certainly has enough team spirit for the job. That's been Ainge's M.O. for as long as he's been around the game — insatiable, unrivaled competitiveness. Remember, this is the same guy that once annoyed Tree Rollins so much that the burly Atlanta Hawks center bit him.
"Danny's as competitive a person as anyone I've met in my life," Rivers said. "And [the Cavs] were making a run, you could see them getting into the game. And he couldn't do anything about it. He feels like me, just sitting there on the sidelines. It was just really funny to me. The $25,000, though, that's not so funny. The joke's over now."
With the distraction behind them, the Celtics can turn their attention back to basketball. Game 3 against the Cavs is Friday night at the TD Garden.