As Quentin Richardson made his way over to the chalkline that was Paul Pierce, laying on the sideline in FIFA mode with 40 seconds left in the game, you knew something was about to happen.
According to reports (check all links for proper credit), Richardson was telling Heat team trainer Jay Sabol, who went to check on Pierce, that "he's going what he always do: lay down like it's a season-ending injury, then he gets up and he's miraculously fine. He gets a breath, takes him time or whatever. And he did the same thing."
Recall the time in Game 1 of the 2008 Finals when Pierce actually drew comparisons to Willis Reed. He went down in the third quarter and was carried off the court. He then returned to the game shortly afterward.
Fast forward to Game 1 of this year's first round matchup between the Celtics and Heat, a must-watch series that many feel the undermanned Heat can win against the aging Celtics, who won Game 1, 85-76. And you know that has been mentioned in the Boston locker room. This team isn't getting much respect and they know their intimidation factor, which helped them win the title in '08, has declined with injury-plagued Kevin Garnett's defensive impact.
"I just saw 'Q' standing over him, talking nonsense," Garnett said. "I just asked him to give him some room. Before you knew it, mayhem started."
Garnett said he had "no beef with Q", but he might after he reads in today's papers that Richardson called he and Paul "two actresses."
The Richardson-Pierce rivalry goes back several years (perhaps to when Pierce was at Kansas and was part of Richardson's recruiting visit). We can recall several moments at the NBA level, especially when Richardson was in New York, such as when the two were ejected for trash talking on Martin Luther King Day at Madison Square Garden in 2008.
And early in the 2008-09 season, when the Knicks actually had a decent team (before the salary-cap clearing trades), the Knicks and Celtics engaged in a game at the new Boston Garden in which the Knicks clearly were trying to challenge the defending champions.
Richardson, always quick to respond to Pierce's incessant trash talking, was exchanging pleasantries (hockey term) with Pierce during the game and Zach Randolph also jumped into the conversation, which involved the perpetually ornery Kendrick Perkins, too.
"They won the game," Q-Rich told us at the time of the 110-101 final, "but I think a few of those guys know they can't say anything to us."
The Celtics blamed the Knicks for starting the trouble. And Richardson had no problem upping the ante.
"Some of those guys are woofing about 'Get a ring'; you ain't been in the league long enough to talk like that to some people who's got as many years as we got over here," Richardson said, clearing talking about Perkins. "I don't got a lot of respect for that."
But Richardson's issue has always been with Pierce's infamous yap. Q is proudly from the mean streets of Chicago, while Pierce is from South Central LA. Maybe it's an East-West thing.
"I'll just be real curious to see what a lot of those guys would say if we weren't in a basketball arena, where there ain't no referees and the NBA officials are going to stop certain things," Richardson said after that Nov. 2008 game. "I mean, it wouldn't be the same story. They are the World Champions and rah-rah-rah. But I mean the tough talk, I don't buy."
Coincidentally, Garnett didn't play in that game because he was serving a suspension. It is possible he could be suspended for Game 2, if the NBA feels his elbows deserve more than just the ejection.
Richardson, of course, believes Garnett deserves a suspension and reiterated his point from that Nov. 2008 game about how the controlled environment of the NBA allows players to act tougher than they might on the street. The same argument is made in the NHL about players such as Rangers instigator Sean Avery.
"All I will say is people act one way in NBA environments where things can be restrained and you're going to be penalized, fined . . . Stuff is going to come to a screeching halt as soon as it happens anyway," he said. "And you know, you put some people in different environments, they want to do the same thing. And [Garnett and Pierce] pretty much know that. They've been in different environments and didn't act the same way.
"You know, that's why I call them actresses."