Celtics notebook

Taking bull by horns in Chicago T-shirt flap

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Marc J. Spears
Globe Staff / April 3, 2008

No bull. The Bulls are strongly backing their mascot, Benny, proclaiming his innocence.

Celtics Kevin Garnett and James Posey believe the mascot shot T-shirts out of a gun, hitting them during a timeout in Boston's 106-92 victory Tuesday at the United Center. Bulls officials, however, said yesterday Benny didn't do it and they have video to prove it. According to the Bulls, a member of their spirit group, the IncrediBulls, accidentally shot T-shirts toward Garnett and Posey after tripping and falling to the floor.

Although Benny doesn't do interviews, the Bulls spoke on his behalf.

Lucky, the Celtics' mascot, declined comment in between taking half-court shots before last night's 92-77 win over the Pacers.

Posey and Garnett, however, laughed at the Bulls' excuse.

"They all work together," said Posey, who added that he needs security every time he goes to Chicago. "I told you, 'Inside job.' They got pretty good aim there."

Said Garnett: "Wow. That's a story. I just turned around and Dude [Benny] had the smoking gun in his hands. I didn't see no lady. I didn't see nobody trip over a gun. You know what I'm saying?"

The incident occurred while Garnett and Posey were walking to the bench with 2:49 remaining in the game. After being hit by the T-shirts, Garnett, Posey, and the Celtics thought Benny did it, since he was the only one standing in the general vicinity. According to the Bulls, Benny did not have anything in his hands.

The Bulls then said a referee approached Benny to see what had happened, but Benny doesn't speak. A game operations assistant approached the referee to explain. While a referee told the Celtics what the operations assistant had said, the Celtics thought it was a bunch of bull.

"When the IncrediBulls member tripped, the shirts were accidentally launched in the direction of the Celtics, but they did hit the floor first, according to what we saw," said Bulls spokesman Tim Hallam. "When it took place, we did take steps to apologize to the Celtics' bench and the referees during the timeout and let them know what happened during that same timeout."

Words of Bird

Larry Bird, the Pacers' president of basketball operations, applauded the Knicks' hiring of Donnie Walsh to be their president of basketball operations. Walsh spent 23 seasons with the Pacers, most recently as CEO and president.

"The Indiana Pacers offer Donnie Walsh congratulations and wish him good luck in his new position," said Bird in a statement. "The Knicks have a good man whose dedication to his job is unmatched. I have learned a great deal from Donnie and he's not only a role model but a great friend.

"Given time, there's no doubt in my mind Donnie will bring success to the Knicks, much like he did with the Pacers. On behalf of the entire Pacers organization, we wish him the best of luck."

Walsh also expressed confidence in Bird leading the Pacers during his press conference in New York yesterday. "I was in Indiana too long. I thought I was holding down guys like Larry Bird," Walsh said.

While Bird now has the final say on the Pacers' personnel decisions, Celtics general manager Danny Ainge felt that had more or less been the case.

"He's the one I always talked to [with Indiana]," Ainge said. "I've always had the impression that he made the call. I don't know how it changes the responsibility."

Sound advice

Celtics coach Doc Rivers, a former Marquette star who is now on the school's board of trustees, said he advised basketball coach Tom Crean "to go with his heart" before he decided to leave Marquette to coach at Indiana. "Obviously, I don't love it," Rivers said. "But Tom's been fantastic. He is a very close friend. I talked to him [recently]. It's a tough loss for us and a great gain for Indiana." . . . Injured Golden State guard Troy Hudson, a friend and former teammate of Garnett's, sat courtside in Garnett's seats . . . Ainge was at the game after returning from a scouting trip and will not be at the Final Four in San Antonio. His next scouting trip will likely be for the Portsmouth Invitational in Virginia April 9-12 . . . The April 9 game against Washington and April 16 game against New Jersey have been moved from WEEI to WRKO 680.

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