San Antonio Spurs

Tim Duncan in green? Spurs rebuffed Celtics' trade proposal after NBA Draft Lottery

Tim Duncan in green? Spurs rebuffed Celtics' trade proposal after NBA Draft Lottery

Twenty-three years after the ping pong balls defied the Boston Celtics in the 1997 NBA Draft lottery, M.L. Carr contends the most painful moment came a short while after the San Antonio Spurs vaulted to the No. 1 pick.

Carr, representing the Celtics despite having been replaced as both the head of basketball operations and head coach by Rick Pitino, was on stage in Secaucus, N.J., when Boston saw its logo appear in envelopes representing picks Nos. 3 and 6.

While the Spurs were still basking in the glow of their leap that would soon deliver Tim Duncan and kickstart their own title run, Carr got sent an impossible task.

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"We worked very hard to put the team in position to get, potentially, the first pick. It didn’t happen. When it didn’t happen, obviously there was disappointment,” Carr said Monday on the anniversary of the defiant ping pong balls. “We came up with the third pick. I got a call from the folks in Boston, the Pitino group, asking, ‘Could we give picks to [Spurs coach and president of basketball operations Gregg] Popovich and ask him if he would trade the first pick for a couple — like third and six. And, obviously, you gotta do it; it’s what they asked.”

So Carr engaged the Spurs contingent, despite knowing full well what the answer to his query would be.

"I went to Popovich, he felt sorry that I even had to ask,” said Carr. "Because I knew right then, to get Tim Duncan away from San Antonio, we’d have to give them the Prudential Center, all the money on the Mass Pike, you’d have to give them all of the North End, you’d have to give them all the suburbs, and probably the Callahan Tunnel revenue, as well as the Ted Williams revenue for the next 40-50 years. And it still probably wouldn’t have been enough to give it up.

It was a stupid question. A stupid question you have to ask, and Popovich knew it so he said, ‘No, we think we’re going to hold onto it.’ I had to do it.

Not even the ever positive Carr, famous for his emphatic towel waving during his playing days while winning two titles in the early 80s, could put a positive spin on missing out on Duncan.

“It was a bad moment for the Celtics. Because we we had the best opportunity with the ping pong balls and it went the other way,” said Carr. "It would have been great to have Timmy because there would have been more banners flying, I’m sure.”

Needless to say, you won’t see the 1997 lottery ceremony on NBC Sports Boston’s Classic Celtics series anytime soon. Told, though, that a new generation of Celtics fans are being exposed to Carr and those 80s Celtics team because of the classic games, Carr playfully admitted that’s actually a negative for him.

"The only problem I have with the old games coming up and classic sports is that I have to be truthful to my five grandkids. I can’t tell them I was the best player on the Celtics because they’re looking and saying, ‘Pop Pop, Larry Bird looks like he might have been better than you,’” said Carr with a laugh. "And I can’t tell them I’m the best player to come out of Wallace, [North Carolina] because they may look at ["The Last Dance" documentary] and say, ‘Michael Jordan, yeah, I think he’s better, too, Pop Pop.’

"I’ve gotta be honest and tell them I was just happy to be on the team.”

 

Danny Ainge criticizes ref for ejecting Kemba Walker, may file protest

Danny Ainge criticizes ref for ejecting Kemba Walker, may file protest

Danny Ainge shares Kemba Walker's opinion that the Boston Celtics guard got a raw deal Wednesday night.

First-year referee Evan Scott ejected Walker in the third quarter of the Celtics' 129-114 loss at TD Garden, giving Walker back-to-back technical fouls after he protested a non-call on a hard LaMarcus Aldridge screen.

"I thought it was quick," Ainge said Thursday morning in his interview with 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Toucher & Rich." "I thought the official reacted emotionally and too quickly."

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The officials' crew chief told a pool reporter that Scott gave Walker a technical for using profanity, then hit him with a second technical when Walker continued to curse.

But Ainge thought Scott jumped the gun on that second T.

"(Walker) cursed at the official, but it seemed almost as if he was cursing and the cursing was not finished yet when he got the first T," the Celtics' president of basketball operations said.

"(Scott) should have just turned and walked away, and then if Kemba comes after him continually, then I understand it. But it just seemed so quick, the second technical and the ejection."

Ainge added the Celtics may protest Scott's second technical foul on Walker, if only for the purpose of reducing any fine his point guard may receive.

"I don't think it was warranted," Ainge said. "But there's nothing that's going to happen other than Kemba may get his money back from getting a second technical.

"The game is over. There's no recourse, and I certainly don't want a young official that may have made a mistake -- or may not have; I'd like to hear his side of the story, too, which I haven't -- but the bottom line is it happened, and it's over, and we'll move on."

The Celtics have a tough road matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night and likely won't dwell on Walker's first career ejection any longer. But at least Walker's boss has his back.

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Kemba Walker reflects on his first ejection from an NBA game

Kemba Walker reflects on his first ejection from an NBA game

BOSTON -- Kemba Walker has seen and heard a lot as he plays his ninth season in the NBA. That's what made his ejection from Wednesday’s game against San Antonio all the more surprising. 

Walker was ejected in the third quarter of the Celtics' 129-114 loss to San Antonio after complaining to rookie official Evan Scott about a hard screen set by Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge.

“I guess he felt I said a little too much,” Walker said. “It’s his choice. It’s on those guys to make those decisions; he made it.”

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Pool reporter Jimmy Golen of the Associated Press spoke with the crew chief Rodney Mott after the game.

When asked what did he see on the play, Mott replied, “In real-time, it’s a difficult play; but we deem the screen to be legal, as LaMarcus was set.”

Mott was then asked what led to Walker’s first technical foul. 

“Per rule, Kemba Walker used profanity towards an official which led to the first technical foul,” Mott said. 

And the second technical foul?

“The same,” Mott said. “He continued to use profanity and was given a second technical foul and ejected.”

At the time, Boston was on a 20-7 run and had cut the Spurs lead to single digits, 76-69, for the first time since early in the first quarter. 

The Spurs’ control of the game only grew after Walker’s ejection -- the first of his NBA career.  

The two techs on Walker, the one on Stevens and a shooting foul that was called against the Celtics on that play resulted in five free throws for the Spurs. They hit four of them and the lead was 80-69.

“Definitely getting ejected, it swung the game right back into their favor,” Walker said. “We were definitely on our way back.”

While the Walker ejection certainly played a significant factor in the game’s outcome, Celtics coach Brad Stevens didn't use that as an excuse for what had been a lackluster performance by his team for the second time in as many games. 

“Whatever the call is, the call is,” Stevens said. “Whatever Kemba said to get kicked out, he said, whatever I said to get a tech I said. But, you know, obviously, there was a lot we could’ve controlled up to that point and after that point and played better."

Stevens is right, of course. 

Still, for Walker’s outburst to result in an ejection seemed excessive, not only because of the play in question but also because of Walker’s NBA track record. 

“This is the first time I’ve been ejected in my life,” Walker said. “I am a two-time Sportsmanship Award winner as well. So maybe I should get a little leeway [in voicing displeasure with a call].

Walker added, “I watch a lot of basketball. I see other guys do a lot worse. But like I said, the choice was his and he made it. He got me out of there. What can I do? Just forget about it at this point. We lost, I got ejected and now we got another one tomorrow [in Philadelphia]. Just want to go out there tomorrow, see what we can do and try and get a win.”

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-76ers, which tips off Thursday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live. You can stream it here or on the MyTeams App.