By Jason Wojciechowski on April 29, 2008 at 5:07 AM
So Paul Pierce's "menacing gesture" from Game 3 was, in fact, seen by the league, and he got hit with a $25,000 fine for it. Danny Ainge says that Pierce makes this sign all the time, and that it stands for "blood, sweat, and tears", not for any gang activity. Doc Rivers tried to make light of the incident, saying that he'll "be careful when [he's] giving signals to the players" from now on. Rivers apparently also said that he'd interpret the sign as "Ok". That's consistent with holding the sign so that the fingers are vertical, not horizontal, the way Pierce had it (and the chart of gang signs I linked to in the last post).
Some news stories go so far as to say that the entire team has used it as an internal signal this year. It isn't clear what it could possibly mean at that point to Al Horford, though, nor is it really helping Paul Pierce's case that the first word in the three-part signal is "blood". The fact that Pierce does the sign before every game, as Ainge says, isn't exactly inconsistent with it being a gang sign, either.
I'm not sure what the real deal is here. I don't know Paul Pierce. I don't know anyone who knows Paul Pierce. But I'm not sure this thing should just quietly go away until some adequate resolution on exactly what happened is reached.
I just saw David Stern questioned by Cheryl Miller on TNT. He first defused the question with a joke ("What was that we did? Ask Stu!"), then basically refused to answer: a menacing gesture is whatever Stu Jackson determines it is. The reality, according to Stern, is that he doesn't want players walking toward each other's benches and making any gestures. That's all well and good, but there are a million gestures Pierce could have made that likely wouldn't have been labeled "menacing" and likely wouldn't have resulted in such a hefty fine. For instance, what about that most unambiguous of gestures, the middle finger? Is that menacing? Unlikely. So clearly there are some gestures that are menacing and some that are not, but Stern refused to say what the menacing ones were, likely because he didn't want to admit that he and Jackson thought Pierce threw up a gang sign.
Oh, on another note, Brendan Haywood keeps endearing himself to me:
But first, Haywood puckered his face up like a baby and did a mocking imitation of James.
"Oooh, they're trying to hurt me," Haywood said before turning serious. "C'mon man, this is the playoffs. He wears 23 and he wants to be Michael Jordan. I respect that because he's a great player. But look what Mike went through. Mike got fouled way worse than this. You know what I'm saying? Nobody is trying to hurt him. Everybody is trying to play basketball, trying to win, trying to play tough. Leave it alone."
Haywood also said that he can't remember a player ever complaining so much about physical play.
"When I was growing up, I never heard that," Haywood said. "I never heard Magic [Johnson] say that. Or Mike. Or Larry [Bird]."