If anyone is 'cancerous,' it's Kevin Garnett

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Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett waits for a free throw by the Toronto Raptors in the second quarter of their NBA pre-season basketball game in Boston, Massachusetts October 10, 2010. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL) I’m sure most Pistons fans know by now that Charlie Villanueva took to his Twitter account to air out a war of words he had with Kevin Garnett while the Pistons were getting throttled at the Palace Tuesday night. In the tweets, Villanueva said Garnett called him a “cancer patient.” Villanueva, who has alopecia and cannot grow hair on most of his body, obviously took offense, both for the ridicule directed toward him and also, he said, for Garnett turning something as serious as cancer into a joke or a put-down. But don’t worry, Garnett has released a statement defending himself:

“I am aware there was a major miscommunication regarding something I said on the court last night. My comment to Charlie Villanueva was in fact ‘You are cancerous to your team and our league.’ I would never be insensitive to the brave struggle that cancer patients endure. I have lost loved ones to this deadly disease and have a family member currently undergoing treatment. I would never say anything that distasteful. The game of life is far bigger than the game of basketball.”

OH, I get it, he’s ONLY cancerous to his team and the ENTIRE league. See, Charlie, nothing to get upset about. So instead of having the entire country mad at him, as everyone knows someone or knows someone who knows someone touched by cancer, I guess he felt it better to throw a player under the bus and imply that not only was he ruining and not respected by his own team, but that the entire NBA hated him. First of all, I will just say that I don’t believe Garnett. He’s a legendary trash talker and his intensity on the court is unmatched. He’s often screaming profanities at teammates and opponents alike and adopts a look on the court that could shatter a weaker man’s soul.

February 09, 2010 Milwaukee, WI. Bradley Center..Detroit Pistons Charlie Villanueva shoots around before the start of the game..Milwaukee Bucks lost to the Detroit Pistons 81-93. Mike McGinnis/CSM.

I can believe, however, that in a fleeting moment, Garnett tossed off a “cancer patient” insult in order to get under Villanueva’s skin. On the other hand, I can’t see KG running down the court and screaming, “You are cancerous to your team and our league.” Doesn’t really roll off the tongue.

People have been saying for years that KG should just shut up and play basketball, but I always defended him. Much like former Piston Rasheed Wallace, Garnett screams because he cares about the game. He trash talks because his first priority is winning. He leaves it all on the court. Yes, he’s a bully, but it was in the service of accomplishing something.

But where Garnett loses me is his inability to man up and admit a mistake. Frankly, he punked out. Sheed never shied away from owning up to his clowning antics and profane outbursts. And I don’t think he would have lied about crossing the line with a bit of trash talk. He would have owned up to his mistake and apologized.

A real man would have apologized.

But its easier to talk tough when you’re on a court with four teammates ready to defend you. And it’s easier to be a bully when you know that your victim can’t answer your insults with fists, which would result in a fine or suspension. And as Garnett has always picked on the little guy and taken advantage of his ability to spout off with impunity, I guess he felt it was easier to simply lie, pretend he didn’t make an  error in judgement and throw a player under the bus.

Villanueva is man enough to take insults. And he said in his Twitter feed that he was more incensed at Garnett for making light of cancer and not his alopecia. But Villanueva is a spokesman for the disease and works with kids that are afflicted with alopecia. He knows that kids have trouble dealing with the condition. He knows that they get teased and mocked by bullies. But I’m sure he never thought an insult like “cancer patient” would make its way from the playground to an NBA basketball court.

KG should certainly know better. What he  said was horrendous, but I can forgive a lapse of judgment in the heat of competition. I’m sure he harbors no ill will toward Charlie V. or would, in a rational moment, make light of cancer. But much like politics, it’s not the transgression that is unforgiveable, but the lie to cover it up.

Much like a schoolyard bully, I think this incident proves Garnett to be the ultimate fraud. Tough enough to belittle his defender when he is having a good shooting night, but not tough enough to own up to a mistake.

People have been calling out Garnett and his tough-guy antics for years now as bullying, posturing and the antics of a punk. A 7-foot schoolyard bully.

I guess I finally agree.

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Tags: Charlie Villanueva Kevin Garnett

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