I don't know what it is, but there appears to be a trend in NBA players refusing to apologize for their absurd actions lately.
As the steam continues to rise from the parquet in the aftermath of Friday's double-overtime thriller vs. Golden State, the Celtics are preparing to play the Cavaliers in another epic matchup that will draw national eyes. To boil the tension over even more, Jae Crowder and J.R. Smith talked about their brush-up from April yesterday.
It was the fourth and final game of their 2015 playoff, Crowder was on the receiving end of a hard pick by Kendrick Perkins that spilled over into a physical altercation and earned the latter a flagrant foul. The hit was presumed to be in response to Kelly Olynyk's fierce pull of Kevin Love's arm as they both chased a rebound earlier in the game, which pulled it out of its socket and ended Love's season, sending him into a dead sprint towards the locker room.
Love originally ripped Olynyk, who would be suspended for a game at the start of this season for the "bush league" play, but the two appear to have put that in the past:
"I apologized," Olynyk said. "He texted me back. So I think we're all right right now."
The same can't be said for Crowder and Smith. It was later in that same game that the two were bumping each other for position on a Brandon Bass post-up before the ball was sent out to Avery Bradley, who attempted a three as Smith cocked back with a close fist and swung backwards at Crowder's chin.
It was one of the more egregious plays you'll ever see, leading to Smith's ejection on a flagrant two and a two game suspension vs. the Chicago Bulls in round two. As for Crowder, on the way to the ground after being hit he sprained his left ACL and was sent to the hospital.
The C's strung together one of their spirited comebacks afterwards, cutting a 57-36 deficit to 70-61 by the end of the third. Keeping pace from there, Boston pulled within 99-93 with 30 seconds remaining in the game, but a last-resort three-point attempt by Luigi Datome was no good as Cleveland pulled away with the game and series 101-93.
As you'd expect, Smith was more worried about himself than Crowder who he left injured on the ground:
"As I'm boxing him out, I kept feeling his forearm on the upper part of my shoulders...I tried to keep backing up, backing up. He kept pushing, pushing, pushing. And unfortunately I tried to swing my arm loose thinking that was the best way to get my arm up in position to rebound and I made contact...it was nothing malicious about it."
Heading into their first game against each other since the event, Crowder spoke to the media with a clear angst towards Smith who most sensible people would've expected to come out and apologize for his misstep by now:
"I hope he apologizes tomorrow...but if he doesn't, we'll play ball."
Despite that plea, it doesn't sound like Smith seems to see anything wrong with what he did to this day. He won't be showing any remorse:
"Honestly man, I'm done with that whole situation...I'm not even going to feed into it."
Smith's stint in Cleveland continues to be a constant reminder of how little he gets it on or off the court. It was recently reported that he choked a teenager in New York. The boos will certainly be flying loud and clear towards him upon introduction tonight.
Will things get testy between the two teams again? As Crowder said, they'll just have to play ball and find out. 7:30pm tip over at the TD Garden. Only two games separate Boston from the top-seeded Cavs, meanwhile they're tied for fourth in the league (+118) in point differential. With no love lost between these two, it should be a good one.
Follow Bobby Manning on Twitter @RealBobManning
Photo Credit: Barry Chin/Globe Staff Bobby Manning 12/15/2015 06:47:00 AM Tweet Edit