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If I were to tell you there was a guy who was Larry Bird's personal rebounder for shooting sessions, you might think "it's pretty neat."  But what if the same guy was arrested for indecent exposure in a hotel?  You might think, "pervert" or "bad luck."  But what if that same guy was then in a car with Jamal Tinsley and got shot?  You might think "it's time to write a book!"  This all actually happened to Joe Qatato, pictured left of the reclined Larry Bird above.

Qatato met Bird in 1979 when Joe was a student at Emerson College in Boston and a public relations intern with the Celtics and Bird was a rookie with the Celtics.  Fast forward to the 80s, and Qatato held multiple roles with Boston including equipment manager, van-driver and masseuse [TB tangent: I remember as a kid seeing him with the Celtics' warmup on the bench and "Qatato" on the back and wondering who it was.  There was Ray Melchiorre at the time too, who was the trainer (before Ed Lacerte) and he also had the warm-up with "Melchiorre" on the back.  But I knew who he was.  I didn't know who the guy with the Q-last name, without a U, was.  Think of it: the vast majority of anything that starts with the letter 'Q' is followed by U.  But not for Joe. Maybe why Bird gave him the nickname "Quirky?"]
Now you know the other guy in this pic of Bird


They became very good friends and Bird even invited Joe to his wedding.  When Bird went to the Pacers, he even brought Joe along and he became equipment manager for Indiana too.  And yes Bird did coin the nickname "Quirky."  Why?

"It stuck," Qatato said. "There was no rhyme or reason to it. He thought that's what I looked like, I guess, or put a name to what I was. And that's what I was. Some people don't even know my real name."

So what about the indecent exposure?  Well apparently Joe got busted in Birmingham, MI in 2004 for public exposure from his hotel room after the Pacers were knocked off by the Pistons in the playoffs.  Pretty amusing recap here:

The Indiana Pacers equipment manager was arrested Tuesday -- the morning of Game 6 -- at a Birmingham hotel and charged with indecent exposure.

"Apparently he was proud of his equipment," Birmingham Police Chief Richard Patterson said. "He wanted to show it off."

The equipment manager, Joseph Qatato, 44, of Indianapolis, allegedly was naked and posing in front of the window of his second-story Townsend Hotel suite facing Pierce Street at about 8 a.m. Qatato also was fondling himself, Patterson said.

The Pistons eliminated the Pacers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals that night at the Palace.

Pacers spokesman Jeff McCoy said the team, which stayed at the Townsend during the playoffs, became aware of the arrest on Thursday afternoon and said "the matter will be handled internally" after a court decision.

According to a Birmingham police report, officers went to the hotel room and were greeted by Qatato, wrapped only in a towel. Police told him they had received complaints about asuspect fitting his description. He responded with a shrug, Patterson said.

Qatato was released from police custody on $200 bail. His arraignment is scheduled on June 23 in 48th District Court in Bloomfield Hills. A message left Thursday with a man at the Pacers' offices who identified himself as Qatato's assistant was not returned.

Really?  "Proud of his equipment" is the quote from the police chief?  And what about Joe.  When confronted by the cops he just shrugged?  What the hell was Joe thinking?  Why was he doing this in front of a window?

Jamal often looked annoyed playing
But we're not done.  In December of 2007 while still with the Pacers, Joe was in the Rolls Royce of Pacers' guard Jamal Tinsley when shots were fired.  We can't make this stuff up:

Sgt. Paul Thompson, a spokesman for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, said the incident began at the nightclub Cloud 9, 5150 W. 38th St.
Members of Tinsley's group said people in another group harassed them about Tinsley's expensive cars -- a Mercedes, Rolls-Royce and Dodge Charger -- and the amount of money he made.
Tinsley's group left the club and headed for Tinsley's Downtown condominium but soon realized they were being followed by a gray Chrysler and a dark pickup truck, Thompson said. They pulled into the Conrad Hotel because they thought it would be safer, he said.
The shooting began about 3:40 a.m., after both groups reached the hotel, Thompson said.
After [Pacers equipment manager Joe] Qatato was shot, he went inside, where Conrad employees called emergency medical services and police.
Qatato had been sitting with Tinsley in the player's Rolls-Royce. A Methodist Hospital spokesperson said Qatato was released Sunday afternoon after being treated. Tinsley, in the front passenger seat, was not injured.

What the hell was Qatato doing with Tinsley at 3:30 am?  Did Larry send him to chaperone Jamal's activities?  Or did Joe feel like going clubbing?  They released 911 tape of the calls in which Joe apparently got shot in the elbow.  However as you can see from that link, it doesn't appear to be working.

Joe wound up suing Tinsley in 2009 over the incident.  Some more details:

“Indiana Pacer Jamaal Tinsley’s rush for safety during a 2007 shooting left the team’s equipment manager a sitting duck in the back of Tinsley’s Rolls-Royce, a new lawsuit says. Trapped in the back seat, Joey Qatato suffered gunshots to both elbows as gunmen opened fire outside the Conrad hotel in Downtown Indianapolis. Qatato’s lawsuit against Tinsley and the car’s driver seeks to hold them responsible for his injuries.”

So Tinsley hightails it out of there leaving Joe to get shot at?  What the fuck?!

My first thought on all this was how wasn't Stephen Jackson involved, but then I realized he had already been shipped out of town by December of 2007.

My second thought in all of this is how Joe definitely needs to write a book.

Joe today


Today Joe is involved with All Noise Radio where he does a show sometimes called Sports Mayhem.  In his bio you can see it says "A highlight in Joe’s career was when he was on tour with the New Kids on the Block in 1990."  Really?  Nothing about being the guy in the vintage 80s videos rebounding the ball for Bird in an empty Boston Garden?

Qatato absolutely needs to release a book.  Who wouldn't want to hear about all his adventures?  How many people can say they spent 30 years in the NBA between two teams doing various odd-jobs including being Larry Bird's personal rebounder and getting shot in a car with Jamal Tinsley?  I'll tell you, nobody, except Joe Qatato.  Come on Joe, publish your story!  Couldn't you see it now "Off the Court: the behind the scenes life of the NBA and what the league doesn't want you to know" by Joe Qatato.

We here at Celticslife would be all over it!

tb727 7/21/2014 09:00:00 AM Edit
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