Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge has to feel like he's in a Snoop video. He got G-checked by Heat President Pat Riley, after criticizing LeBron James’ objections to hard fouls during the Bulls victory over the Heat on Thursday.
It was a highly physical, concrete-jungle clash that snapped Miami’s 27-game winning streak. LBJ wasn’t feeling the physical contact one bit, and let it be known.
“First of all Kirk Hinrich in the first quarter basically grabbed me with two hands and brought me to the ground,” James said. “And the last one, Taj Gibson was able to collar me around my shoulder and bring me to the ground. Those are not basketball plays.”
Ainge went in on LeBron, basically calling LBJ something Ainge himself was infamously known for being—a whiner.
“I think it's almost embarrassing that LeBron would complain about the officiating. I think the referees got the calls right. I don’t think it was a hard foul,” Ainge said during an interview with Salk & Holley on WEEI in Boston.
Riley responded with some, "move up the block as we groove up the block,” and has this to say:
“Danny Ainge needs to shut the f--- up and manage his own team. He was the biggest whiner going when he was playing and I know that because I coached against him.”
Only thing missing was Ice Cube, Morris Chestnut, a 40oz of malt liquor and a throwback Crenshaw drive-by.
Riley basically said Ainge was bitch made as a player, and nothing's changed, so don’t listen to a word he has to say.
Ainge was his usual passive-aggressive self in responding to Riley. He backed away, but maintained his antagonistic nature. So he didn’t totally punk out, and fired some final flares.
“I stand by what I said. That's all. I don't care about Pat Riley. He can say whatever he wants," Ainge, the ultimate combative instigator during his 14-year NBA career, said before Friday’s game. "I don't want to mess up his Armani suits and all that hair goop. It would be way too expensive for me," he said.
Ainge is out of line, because his Celtics are embroiled in a low-seed playoff hunt and he needs to make sure his own nails are manicured before he starts trying to pull somebody's skirt up.
Riley stepped in before LBJ could even respond. It kind of reminded you of the old Riley. The one that paced the sidelines for the ‘80s Lake Show. He was slick as Nu Nile and calm as a cloud, but possessed the deadly instincts of a gentleman assassin.
Riley refused to let Ainge get any type of psychological advantage with the refs leading into the playoffs. Riley is an O.G., who knows the tricks-of-the-trade. The last thing he needs is a relaxed attitude by the refs towards extreme-physicality against James.
Riley and Ainge are used to going at each other. Riley's Lakers teams beat Ainge’s Boston squads in two of their three ‘80s NBA Finals matchups.
Riley trumped Ainge on the court back then. Now he’s kicking his butt in the boardroom, outpacing Ainge in chips as a front office exec, 2-1.
Ainge trying to win a public crusade against LeBron and Riley—at this point—is almost as dumb as trying to fight 7-1 Tree Rollins. It could come back to bite him.