Confrontation with Stern may cost Celtics part-owner

By Gary Washburn
Globe Staff / June 10, 2010

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A Celtics minority owner could face a fine by the NBA after a verbal confrontation with commissioner David Stern following the Celtics’ 91-84 Game 3 loss to the Lakers Tuesday night at TD Garden.

According to multiple sources with knowledge of the encounter, Jim Pallotta, angry at the officiating that included three reviewed calls in the fourth quarter, confronted Stern and apparently said the league should be embarrassed at the officiating in the series.

Historically, owners who have been publicly critical of officials have received six-figure fines.

Stern told reporters at an NBA Cares event in Roxbury yesterday that it wouldn’t be Celtics-Lakers without complaints about the officiating. The NBA officially had no comment on the incident, while a Celtics spokesman said he was unaware of it.

The officiating in the Finals has been heavily criticized, with Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Kobe Bryant all sitting for significant game time because of foul trouble. Celtics coach Doc Rivers was especially disturbed by Tuesday’s game and the foul trouble that plagued Pierce.

Rivers sent 11 plays from Game 3 to be reviewed by the league.

The Celtics were whistled for 27 fouls to the Lakers’ 20 Tuesday night; for the series, Los Angeles has attempted 96 free throws to Boston’s 86.

Stern has been tough on owners for being critical of officials, most notably Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks. The league also fined Cuban and Atlanta Hawks owner Michael Gearon for making comments about the potential free agency of LeBron James.

Stern, Celtics majority owner Wyc Grousbeck, and co-owner Steve Pagliuca attended the NBA Cares event and appeared amicable.

Pallotta, an equities manager for Tudor Investment, bought into the team in 2002 and is known as a talented pickup basketball player.

He has courtside seats for games.

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