The Celtics… Dirty?

That’s what Tom Ziller is saying on FanHouse today.

That flagrant foul on Anderson Varejao might be the dirtiest NBA play since … Perkins violently threw Jason Maxiell to the floor in January. Is it a pattern yet?

Doc Rivers and Tom Thibodeau haven’t told their players to decapitate the opponent, I’m sure. But the style the Celtics play with Garnett as leader (even from the bench) is wild, fast and violent. The forwards and guards have to fly around to deny shots. Sometimes, when caught out of position, they flail … and rope the opponent around the neck.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion… but I wonder how many Celtics game Tom Ziller has watched this year.  Leveling the “dirty” accusation is pretty heavy.  This piece makes it sound like the Celtics are pulling Laimbeer-esque dirty plays on a daily basis.

Don’t confuse a hard foul with dirty play.  Maybe, like Doc said last night, I’m from a different generation.  Maybe I understand the difference between Glen Davis’ hard foul and a dirty play.

But just in case people want an explanation:  Baby went for the ball, and his goal was to make Varejao earn his points from the line.  Dammit, it’s what you’re taught to do as a player.  He didn’t undercut him.  He didn’t just swipe at his head.  He didn’t just lay into him with the body.  He went for the ball.

It was intended to be a hard foul.  He was out of position and it was a harder foul than intended.  I don’t want to see players go to the floor awkwardly like that.   Davis was punished for it, and by the way the rules are written, he was punished accordingly (despite my disagreement with the spirit of the rule).  But please, don’t confuse that with a dirty play.  A dirty play is different… and if you’re going to level that kind of accusation, you have to know the difference.


44 Responses

  1. Isn’t Tom Ziller the guy who said Mikki Moore was the second coming of Mark Blount? Yeah, there’s a reason why he’s writing for “Fanhouse” and not ESPN.

  2. I don’t want this to turn into a Ziller-hate fest. I respect the guy. I just think he’s way off here.

  3. Because ESPN is know for their hard-hitting, unbiased analysis? Please.

    I appreciate both sides of this argument, but the medium of communication has nothing to do with the underlying.

    Is Brendon Haywood a dirty player? Bruce Bowen? Just curious on your feelings of someone not wearing green and white.

  4. “Davis was punished for it, and by the way the rules are written, he was punished accordingly”

    I said this in the post. Davis shouldn’t be suspended or even fined. A Flagrant-2 was the appropriate punishment.

    I just noted that there’s a pattern here of hard-to-dirty play, and it can be attributed to the defensive style which Boston plays. I’m not saying that Boston isn’t great or that the league should crack down. (Again, I wrote in the post that the punishment fits, and has fit.) Why is any and all criticism of the team taken as some sort of martial accusation of war crimes? I think the Celtics play pretty dirty basketball. They are the champs. They still might repeat.

  5. And trust me, I watch plenty of Celtics basketball. (It’s hard not to, in fact.) That is the least useful retort ever.

  6. that was not even close to a dirty shot. I would put all of those clippers hacking at pierce’s thumb the other night more dirty. He got hacked so many times, and the refs weren’t calling anything, that after it popped out the second time pierce stopped driving hard to the basket. Big baby went for the ball. Good solid basketball. Varajao flopped like a futbol player. He acted all hurt, then when Big Z and bron bron got into big baby’s face he popped right back up like he just popped a viagra.

  7. Reds, your piece is exactly correct. Baby was going for the ball and… in that split second, his arms came down, the other guy happened to be just there, and Baby got punished for the result. Nothing dirty about it. Just because it’s a Flagrant 2 doesn’t mean that it was dirty (in case that’s what’s confusing Ziller)… under the new rules, it’s just the event that matters, not the intention.

    By referencing Perk’s prior foul, he is trying to make the Cs look dirty (as if 2 events do that, but whatever). THAT indicates bias to me… There have been REALLY dirty plays this season that he fails to mention. Shaq purposefully throwing Stuckey to the ground (November) is one, and then David West clearly, purposefully SLAMMING Mike Miller on the head and neck (Feb 8) to stop his fast break was a true, unmistakably dirty play that happened AFTER Perks foul on Maxiell — making Ziller’s assertion that Baby’s foul was the “dirtiest” in the NBA since Perk’s patently FALSE.
    West foul:
    Shaq foul:

  8. Cleaveland is soft like the tissues they cry into.

  9. Wow.

  10. I’m happy LeBron got spanked last night!! I agree with the official call, but not with Zeller’s comments. Baby hooked Varejao’s neck with his forearm using a downward motion and forced him to the hardwood. The foul didn’t look like a play for the ball to me. I like the Celtics hard style of play. I hope Rondo’s ankle is okay. He was somewhat tepid after the sprain. Games are more enjoyable when he’s playing well.

  11. By referencing Perk’s prior foul, he is trying to make the Cs look dirty (as if 2 events do that, but whatever). THAT indicates bias to me… There have been REALLY dirty plays this season that he fails to mention. Shaq purposefully throwing Stuckey to the ground (November) is one, and then David West clearly, purposefully SLAMMING Mike Miller on the head and neck (Feb 8) to stop his fast break was a true, unmistakably dirty play that happened AFTER Perk’s foul on Maxiell — making Ziller’s assertion that Baby’s foul was the “dirtiest” in the NBA since Perk’s — patently FALSE.

  12. so be it if we are or people think we are dirty

    after rooting for the sox and pats and now the celts over this decade, i’m done trying to defend the teams i root for to people because they’ll never change their opinion

    if playing hard and dirty gets us another title, then i want them to play dirty

  13. 2 flagrant fouls (by 2 different individuals) in 62 games, 29th in the league in techs, 10th overall in fouls called.


    Could this article be any more of an exaggeration in his indictment of the Celtics as a “dirty team”? The Stats simply prove, FACTUALLY that this article is patently wrong, and little more than a knee-jerk reaction attempting to garner viewers.

    The sad thing about that site he’s writing for – in order to post comments, you need to have an AOL account.

    AOL. More like LOL.

    It’s 2009, Tom. Unless I plan on firing up the wayback machine to head back to 1997, I don’t think I’m going to be using AOL any time soon. Fortunately for you – I won’t be able to put you in your place, then. So really, your article is about as useless and outdated as the service it’s sponsored by.

  14. “I think the Celtics play pretty dirty basketball. ”

    Ziller, That’s the line that makes me question how much Celtics basketball you watch. You can’t look at a couple of incidents and brand the team as “dirty”.

    As to why I, as a fan, take offense to the term “dirty”… I think it cheapens what the Celtics are doing defensively. It takes away from their efforts on that end of the floor. It makes it seem the team relies on dirty plays to intimidate other teams… and that’s why they’re good defensively. What you wrote seems to toss all the hard work out the window, and paint the Celtics defensive system as a thug-based plan that relies on the occasional flagrant to remind people to tread lightly in the post.

    But quite the opposite is true, despite two flagrant fouls. In fact, I’m sure there are plenty of teams with a flagrant or two on their resume. But guys don’t routinely hit the deck against the Celtics. There isn’t a constant threat of a fight or a feeling that Celtics games are overly “chippy”… which is what you have with a dirty team.

    Like I said Tom… I respect your opinion… I just think you’re completely wrong on this one.

  15. Once again, Danno dazzles-wows-makes my side hurt from laughing so hard. This is Eastern Conference bball man. The 2 rowdy guys behind me last night (in Section 17 row B in case they are reading this!) made a great point. In the middle of the game, one of them said: “Man, that wouldn’t even be called a foul in the 80’s!!” Yeah, Baby’s foul was hard-but their was a point to it. The point was this: Baby was basically saying; “Yeah we know KG is out-but you’re STILL going to pay if you come down here. No free ones tonight-we’re playing for homecourt here!” I believe that play was the turning point in the game. It got the C’s and the building fired up (not that either needed it) and everyone fed off that the rest of the night. Are we dirty? No Ziller-I don’t think so. Dirty is when you’re team is getting blown out and you nail a guy in frustration. Dirty is when a guy is lighting you up for hoop after hoop and you bridge him when he goes up for a put-back. What Baby did last night was send a message-not tonight, and not in our house.

  16. Sensationalistic diatribe is not good writing.

  17. The article is an example of a written dirty play or cheap shot.

  18. Oh please. Varejao is a premier flopper this is the 2nd game this week his oscar worthy performances have gotten someone kicked out. His own teammates didn’t even bother to check on him when he went down.
    A dirty play maybe its debatable but using two incidents to label the team dirty is just irresponsible journalism especially for someone who watches a lot of Celtics games.

  19. The Celtics play uplifting basketball that makes the spirit take wing.

    “Dirty” is such an unclean and incorrect word. The Celtics are the only team in this league capable of holding off the forces of evil.

    If they have to occasionally use firm methods to keep the universe from plunging into the type of chaos we saw from 1987 through 2007, then such methods must be used!

    Big Baby and his compadres took back the interior and won the game. His play on Varejao and the resulting victory was a strong statement that this new green epoch will continue.

    I am grateful for Baby’s self sacrifice, dedication, and enormous forearms. Bravo Mr. Baby! Bravo!! The great green nation salutes you.

  20. ““I think the Celtics play pretty dirty basketball. ”

    Ziller, That’s the line that makes me question how much Celtics basketball you watch. You can’t look at a couple of incidents and brand the team as “dirty”. ”

    Yes, because someone has the audacity to disagree on a completely subjective topic, they can’t possibly watch much Celtics basketball, despite the fact that they have said they do and have a published record of dispatches regarding specific Celtics games throughout the year. Boss, “you must not watch the team because you are wrong” is an awful, awful argument. I love your writing and I guess perhaps I expect more than the schlop anonymous FH commenters trot out. Trust me, I watch a good deal of Celtics basketball. Disagree with the opinion all you want, but don’t call me a liar.

  21. If Baby employs a similar hard foul on Mbenga in the finals, he’ll get no love from the officials and a possible K.O. from Mbenga.

  22. I’m not calling you a liar, Tom. I was just saying that the full body of work should show that they’re not dirty at all. It’s not a knock on you… you’ve got your own team, and the rest of the NBA to watch. Even if you’ve watched every nationally televised game, I don’t think that’s enough of a sample to make the “dirty” judgment. You may disagree… which is fine.

  23. Ziller– you indignation is duly noted. Now please answer for your obvious misstatement that Baby’s play was the dirtiest in the NBA since Perk’s… when we have David West’s flagrant in February that was clearly much much worse than either of the Cs’. Our guys were going for the ball and in the last instant ended up with a flagrant. West was going only for the head/neck, from behind. This is not a matter of opinion anymore, it’s hard video data. And you answer is….?

  24. Gant– love your soaring prose, gloriously over the top. Reminds me of Thor, and the Silver Surfer, and those “halcyon days of yore”.

  25. Thank you DRJ.

    I’m doing everything I can to avoid a rational debate on these outrageous accusations.

  26. Lol Gant.
    Ziller’s comments can barely be characterized as rational… he has tried to redefine the word “dirty”, which I think is pretty pathetic. And really, calling Big Baby “dirty” is just ridiculous. The guy is probably the sunniest, goofiest, friendliest, nicest player in the NBA.

  27. Still waiting to hear the response from Ziller to DRJs question. Nice one, DRJ. He seems quite interested in looking at every play he considered ‘dirty’ by the Celtics on Youtube.

  28. remember when that guy goosed that big tall ugly clipper. I think it was reggie evans, and he grabbed that guys nuts trying to go for the rebound in the playoffs two years ago. Thats a dirty play.

  29. fact of the matter is everyone wants a piece of the champs and wants to see them fall.. its just that i dont think were going to do it yet. so keep hatin everyone

  30. 2 plays!? He bases his theory on 2 plays over the course of an entire season? I guess it’s clear why he’s a journalist and not a scientist.

    Here’s my theory from 4 or so of his posts here: He’s an idiot.

  31. tuka– he’s not even a journalist, actually. he’s a blogger. you know, like us. :) this is actually a tempest in a teapot, and he seems to have raised the white flag anyway, but hey, it’s a tweener day and there’s nothing else to argue about :)

  32. DRJ: You’re right. Not the dirtiest play since the Big ‘Drick flagrant. West … Z-Bo’s punch … probably a half-dozen others. That statement was a reach. I’ll edit in the morning to reflect. Maybe at the end of the season I’ll put together a “dirtiest plays of the season” … Glen’s flagrant won’t likely make the list.

    I still think the Celtics are the dirtiest team in the league, and I think the flying defense is a reason why. (Also, Bruce Bowen’s aging would be a reason why.)

  33. Since when is physical basketball “dirty?”

    Just because you don’t like a team, doesn’t make them “dirty” for banging.

  34. Wild, fast and violent? Sounds like my idea of a good time in the sack.

  35. Thank you for your post, Ziller. Now let’s talk about the remaining point of disagreement: your characterization of the Cs as “dirty “.

    Here’s the problem: You have redefined the word “dirty ” like this: “the effort level and flying style leads to dirty plays” and “the Celtics’ defensive mentality leads to plays like this”. Your explanation says nothing about intention, to your credit. I.e., you are not accusing the Boston players of PURPOSEFULLY harming other players, just that the team’s defensive style inevitably leads to fouls like Baby’s, which you describe as “dirty”. So far so good. But you are making one huge error. You are not taking into account the fact that almost EVERYONE ELSE DEFINES “DIRTY” DIFFERENTLY. We all define a “dirty” play as one where the flagrant foul was not accidental, where harm was intended, where there was no play on the ball, and where the defensive player exhibited poor character in committing the foul. You know, like David West vs. Miller on Feb. 8.

    But your definition is different. Which means you are redefining the word, which you believe is your right. And that is the crux of this, your second error in the piece. YOU CANNOT REDEFINE AN ENGLISH WORD WHICH ALREADY HAS A PARTICULAR MEANING TO THE GROUP OR COMMUNITY INVOLVED, WITHOUT MAKING THAT REDEFINITION CLEAR UP FRONT. Why? Because you are thus attacking the very foundation of civilization, communication. For society to exist, we must agree on what words mean… if we don’t, we can’t communicate, and if we don’t communicate, chaos ensues. To be accepted in your community you must either (a) agree to the common, accepted definitions of words and use them correctly, or (b) make clear your redefinition(s) of any word(s) AS YOU USE THEM in context.

    Bottom line: when you edit your piece, you should also insert your particular definition of the word “dirty”. People may still disagree with you on that score, but at least then you will be safer from attacks as to the substance of the points you are making.

  36. Ziller, the Celtics’ help defenders intentionally foul at times to avoid giving up easy baskets, but with a couple of exceptions (Perk and Baby’s flagrants) they are not being “violent.” In fact they have given up numerous and-1’s because the foul was not hard enough.

  37. The funniest of all these posts was that Didier Ilunga Mbenga was somehow mentioned! By a troll of course..lmao

  38. ^ha, Mbenga gets a good swat in garbage time vs. the twolves and all of a sudden Lakers trolls think he’ll see pt in the finals. I don’t care what he’s a black belt in…

  39. Good Work DRJ – Much respect

  40. FSantos… I deleted the comment you made about Ziller. No need for that.

  41. What is this guy talking about! This is the way the game should be played! I love the hard nose D and the passion the C’s play with on the defensive end. The NBA would be better if more teams played like the C’s.

  42. John – I apologize

  43. thank you

  44. Just look at the celtics bulls series, the celtics play dirty! that foul on bread miller was horrible he knocked his tooth out your going to tell me they dont play dirty?!

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