Time for Media, Fans, Players to Put a Lid on ‘Silly’ Controversy Between Kevin Garnett, Charlie Villanueva


Time for Media, Fans, Players to Put a Lid on 'Silly' Controversy Between Kevin Garnett, Charlie Villanueva The 24-7 news cycle has even respectable sports journalists scrounging for scraps.

Sports coverage used to be about who won, who lost and how? Maybe there were a few Jeremy Schaap-like human-interest stories mixed in to get folks interested in a game they might not otherwise watch.

But never (or rarely, at least) was there much hype about all the peripherals — think Glen Davis eating Chocolate Cheerios and making out with his dog.

Before the age of the Internet and TV networks devoted entirely to sports, no one really cared. That marginal stuff was all white noise. Now, fans, reporters and analysts have spent two days poring over and painstakingly analyzing a he said-he said between Kevin Garnett and Charlie Villanueva.

To rehash, Villanueva has alopecia, a medical condition that causes hair loss over his entire body. Following the C's win over the Pistons on Tuesday night, Villanueva tweeted that KG had called him a "cancer patient" during the contest.

Garnett responded in a statement Wednesday, saying he had in fact told Villanueva, "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."

Boston coach Doc Rivers backed up that response, telling reporters before the Celtics' game Wednesday night, "I actually heard what Kevin said. I was standing right there, and what he released was what he said."

That, to be literal, makes it less of a he said-he said and more of a he said-two people said, with one of the two being a longtime coach with a track record of integrity. But getting too caught up in who's telling the truth belies the key point in this discussion: It doesn't matter.

That statement is not meant in any way to belittle the struggle of cancer patients. The need for sensitivity and awareness surrounding the disease is enormous — as KG said, "The game of life is far bigger than the game of basketball."

And yet, there must also be a recognition that, for starters, we'll never know what Garnett did or didn't say. Assuming he's guilty based on the word of a guy who just had a double-technical scuffle with the accused (motive, anyone?) would be unfair. Also, what happens on the court has always stayed on the court.

Can you imagine what Michael Jordan said to some of his opponents? While most haven't been willing to share details, general word is the dude had the mouth of a sailor. Heck, he talked trash during his Hall of Fame acceptance speech. Kobe Bryant? Another guy consistently regarded in anonymous polls by his peers as one of the dirtier, more foul-mouthed players in the league.

And there's a reason we don't get specifics on what they're saying.

Basketball is a high-energy, fast-paced game full of rough box-outs, hard fouls, elbows and emotions. Like any human being would, these guys get sucked into that atmosphere. They go off the handle, do and say things they shouldn't. The players don't call one another out on that behavior because they understand that dynamic, and because they know come tomorrow night, it could be them.

Villanueva broke that code. His team's 0-5 and after he lost to the Celtics in a blowout, he decided to get revenge publicly with an accusation that may or may not be true.

"I don't like the whole Tweeting thing," Doc said Wednesday. "Guys talk on the court — and not that they should or shouldn't — but the fact that we're talking about this, to me, it's just silly. It really is. We had a hell of a game [Tuesday]. We should be talking about basketball."

That's precisely why both sports fans and media alike need to put the lid back on the court.

Sure, it behooves the players to be as civil as possible. After all, our children are watching. But in an 82-game season, with the world's best athletes going head-to-head, nasty things will be said. It's best they stay under wraps, where they've always been, lest we find our beloved pastimes becoming less sport and more reality TV.

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