All through this tough season, in spite of all the losing, I was able to console myself because we had such a close knit group. They were developing great chemistry and chemistry is very important in building a team. That is why I still consider the trade with the Wolves a success - we rid ourselves of players who were potential cancers on the team and were disrupting team chemistry.
I was happy that the team that we have now was building great chemistry. The kids really like each other and none of them want to leave this great group of players. But after the Charlotte game we heard a totally different story. From the Hoopsworld article:
Those are the guys that always [complain] about playing," Rivers said. "Everybody on the bench wants to play on every team. Everybody wants minutes. But when you get in, you have to fight … so I was upset by that."
Guys always complaining about not playing? I haven't heard complaints since Raef complained about not getting to start and Blount complaining about touches. Who is always complaining? I just don't see Powe complaining, even though he has reason to since every time he takes the floor, his play seems to earn more minutes but never does. Was Gomes complaining about not getting playing time while injured? I don't see Ray complaining about not getting playing time since he is so happy just to be back from the D-League and could very well be sent back to get playing time. Green has been getting playing time but hasn't made the most of it. I don't see him complaining. I guess that leaves Telfair, who has also gotten time but didn't make the most of it. So, who is it always complaining about not getting minutes?
The aftermath saw Rivers making a preemptive strike at the ``tanking'' questions, while the locker room was as frosty as any time this season. For a team that has only won 27 percent of its home games, that's saying a lot.
While Al Jefferson (22 points, 11 rebounds in 33 hard-played minutes) stoically gazed past reporters while repeatedly referring to the episode as a ``teaching moment,'' Paul Pierce uncharacteristically left the Garden without speaking to the media. Kendrick Perkins (13 points, 11 rebounds in 24 minutes over the first three quarters) was left to addresses previously unpublicized issues of bench players - presumably some of the same ones who couldn't hold the lead - griping about playing time.
So after the game the locker room was frosty? Are the players turning on each other because of Doc's "lesson"? And Perk having to address locker room issues? Maybe the issues were previously unpublished because they weren't issues before Doc's attempt at explaining his move to leave a group of mismatched bench players in to lose the lead and a game we could have won.
Rivers tried to play off his starters’ anger as a positive. “They were pouting - not at not going in. They were pouting at the group (on the floor) and how they were performing,” Rivers said. “When you walked in the locker room, the discussion was not about that they didn’t go back in. They were ripping the guys who were on the floor. So in a lot of ways, that was all good.” Yes Doc, that does sound like a healthy locker room.
That was all good? Ripping the guys who were on the floor? I don't think teammates ripping each other is good at any time. If a player isn't getting it done, pull them and the coach rips them. Whatever happened to all the talk about a player having to EARN minutes? It just seems like this is sowing the seeds of discontent among the players and it didn't need to happen.
But there is a voice of reason in all this. Delonte West is a glue guy. We need to keep him because of his play, but even more for his leadership on this team. Here is what Delonte had to say on NE Sports tonight when asked about the situation by Pierce:
"At some point, you have to start to view your team as just a team, not as who's starting and who's not starting," he said. "We trust all of our players and we have to be able to go out and compete at a high level."
I just hope that Doc's head games with these kids doesn't destroy the chemistry that they have been building all along. Doc may have been trying to teach them a lesson, but it was a very ill advised lesson if it drives a wedge between players.
Also, it was a very bad time to teach this particular lesson. If the league is fining a GM for sitting next to a player's mom and for making comments about a player, then what would they do if they perceive that a team is tanking. Teach them a lesson against a team that isn't vying with us for the first pick. Don't do it in a way that makes it look so much like tanking that you have to begin your press conference by saying that you weren't. Doc has put the team in a very precarious position. I am sure that the league is carefully watching every team now to assure that no tanking is going on and the Celtics are already on their radar. Doc may have been teaching the subs a lesson, but he used very poor judgement in doing so.