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Question of the day: Did Kevin Garnett cross the line with remarks about Charlie Villanueva?

November 4, 2010 |  9:35 am

Charlie_240 Writers from around the Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses and feel free to leave a comment of your own.

Brian Schmitz, Orlando Sentinel

The NBA should expand its crackdown on on-court behavior to fining Kevin Garnett, calling a belated "T."
He has been a trash-talking cheap-shot artist for years -- even before his classless comments toward Charlie Villanueva. KG has a reputation as a fake tough guy, all disguised as "passion."
Villanueva, who has lost his hair because of alopecia universalis, said Garnett called him a "cancer patient." KG said he told Villanueva he was "cancerous to your team and our league."

I believe Villanueva. Even if it was a "miscommunication," as KG claims, why call him "cancerous?" KG: "I'm a passionate player. If you don't like the way I am...."
I don't. The league shouldn't either, as long as it's all up in arms over on-court civility.    

Shandel Richardson, Sun Sentinel

Talking trash has always been part of the game. Always will be. Always has to be.

But there are lines, and Boston Celtics star Kevin Garnett crossed it if he said what Charlie Villanueva alleges. There were hundreds of other ways to get underneath Villanueva’s skin.  Villanueva isn’t Chris Paul, Deron Williams or David Lee, his peers from the 2005 NBA Draft. So make fun of his somewhat underachieving career. If Garnett wanted to make bald jokes, he could have compared Villanueva to someone like, say, Sam Cassell. 

Garnett could have even mentioned his NBA championship ring or MVP award.

So many options to choose from, yet Garnett, according to Villanueva, decided to make a joke of cancer? Poking fun at a life-threatening disease makes the Big Ticket look like the Big Dope. He could have saved himself lots of grief by keeping his trash-talk just a bit cleaner.

[Updated at 11:51 a.m.:

Lisa Dillman, Los Angeles Times

First of all, I’m wondering where Celtics coach Doc Rivers was standing when he heard what Kevin Garnett said to Charlie Villanueva. Does he, indeed, possess that much better hearing than Villanueva?

Whether Garnett called Villanueva a “cancer patient” or described him as “cancerous to your team and our league” probably won’t ever be determined unless some audio mysteriously surfaces on in a few days.

Still, it is painfully easy to answer the question. Yes, Garnett did go too far with the trash-talking the other night. His carefully crafted, almost stilted version crossed the line, and if Villanueva’s allegations turn out to be the truth, well, then Garnett vaulted way over and well past it.

How many times do you think Villanueva, who has alopecia, has heard insults and dealt with insensitive reactions? In 2000, I covered an Olympic swimmer by the name of Staciana Stitts, who lost her hair at age 12. In a series of interviews, Stitts spoke about losing her hair and even said she thought hair loss was connected to cancer, worrying she was dying.

That’s what I thought about Wednesday. Not whether Villanueva violated the unofficial code of the NBA, or even guy code, by going public and tweeting about the alleged insult.]

[Updated at 1:18 p.m.

K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune

First, we're giving Villanueva's version free rein, a version both KG and Doc Rivers disputed. Second, I have a bigger issue with Villanueva revealing something that was said in the heat of competition than anything Garnett might've said. There's a code on the playing field. Anyone held to a level of accountability in what Garnett thought was a peer-to-peer encounter would likely say some things that cross the line. Outing Garnett was as shortsighted as anything KG might've said. Talk to him yourself. That's all KG thought he was doing.]


Photo:  Detroit Pistons' power forward Charlie Villanueva, No. 31, is guarded by Chicago Bulls' power forward Brian Scalabrine on Saturday. Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki / US Presswire.