The NBA is taking #PettyWarz to a whole new level in 2018.
First, a little in-game wrassling between the Rockets and Clippers spilled into a locker room confrontation that had Twitter aflame with things like secret tunnels, diversions, Austin Rivers being arrogant, and LAPD takeovers. The following night, Orlando guard Arron Afflalo threw a reckless haymaker at Minnesota's Nemanja Bjelica. Then, after Michael Carter-Williams and Tim Frazier became the NBA's eighth and ninth ejections over the past three days, Wizards coach Scott Brooks dialed it up yet another notch by inviting Dwight Howard back onto the court to shoot the technical free throws, only to see Howard make both, do the Sam Cassell big balls dance, and blow a kiss to the Washington coach.
But perhaps the juiciest story of all revolves around Paul Pierce and Isaiah Thomas. Most of you know the details by now: Celtics announce celebration for Thomas during Feb. 11 Cleveland-Boston matchup; Pierce gets angry, wants own night for his jersey retirement; former Celtics sit down beside campfire, gush about how amazing they were; media/Twitter (ahem, Shannon Sharpe) remind Pierce he's no Kobe; Thomas posts veiled "hating hours" Instagram message. It could be the plot for season 2 of Big Little Lies.
Yesterday on ESPN's NBA Countdown, Jalen Rose summed up the whole thing when he called Pierce "petty" to his face, and the resulting back and forth had Pierce looking like he was ready to risk his job. (Thomas, for his part, liked the clip on social media.)
Jalen Rose WENT AT Paul Pierce during NBA Countdown. He called him "petty" for not wanting an Isaiah Thomas tribute video to play during his evening of honor. He also called out the fact that Pierce is being honored postgame, unlike Kobe Bryant's all-game tribute. Video via ESPN: pic.twitter.com/qLoPGKvuST
I mean, is Jalen Rose not correct? The Celtics honoring Isaiah during the game does not take away from Pierce's moment afterward. The Celtics honoring Isaiah for not just his play on the court but for what he inspired in their fans and the Boston community does not take away from Pierce's moment afterward.
Of course, being that petty is the theme of the month, Pierce wouldn't let it go, coming back at Rose with yet another "81" joke. The former Toronto Raptors guard will probably never live these down, but at least he can take it and keep it moving.
Pierce: Jalen, you were right. I am petty, and I'm gonna be petty 81 more times too... 👀 pic.twitter.com/YUbidHR9Sv
And the critics say the NBA isn't entertaining anymore because the Cavs and Warriors always win.