Charlie Villanueva claims Kevin Garnett called him a cancer patient, challenges Garnett to a fight – all via Twitter

At 2:14 a.m., Charlie Villanueva tweeted:

KG talks alot of crap, he’s prob never been in a fight, I would love to get in a ring with him, I will expose him

That led to a lot of groaning from Pistons fans about Villanueva. The rest of the relevant tweets:

Ben Gordon:

@CV31 oh sit


KG called me a cancer patient, I’m pissed because, u know how many people died from cancer, and he’s tossing it like it’s a joke,


I wouldn’t even trip about that, but a cancer patient, I know way 2 many people who passed away from it, and I have a special place 4 those


@CV31 wow! Smh..

Austin Daye:

@CV31 wow that’s crazy!!!!

My response

If true, what Garnett said is pretty abhorrent. But it’s also clear why he said it. He said it to win a basketball game. He said it to get under Villanueva’s skin. He said it to knock Villanueva off his game.

That said, there are consequences to your actions. I’m behind anyone who wants to criticize Garnett for his statements. Garnett, again if true, chose winning over being a respectable human being. Sometimes, we get so caught up in sports that we find that decision acceptable, even honorable. We shouldn’t.

That said, Villanueva probably made a mistake with his tweets.

Usually, I’m not going to chastise a player for speaking his mind. The media tends to do that so often. Complain when a player speaks only in clichés, and when he says something controversial, crucify him. I hate that, and I want to avoid it here.

I appreciate Villanueva’s comments as a basketball fan. In a Sports Illustrated poll, NBA players named Garnett the league’s biggest trash talker by a wide margin. Villanueva provided context and gave us more access to the inner-workings of the NBA. That’s a good thing for us.

But Villanueva also set himself up for trouble. I don’t expect Garnett to choose respectfulness over winning the next time, either, and now he knows how to push Villanueva’s buttons.

Unless he doesn’t. Villanueva has had alopecia since he was a child. I’m sure this isn’t the first time someone made fun of him for looking like a cancer patient. Villanueva, like everyone, has buttons that can be pushed, but maybe after all these years, cancer-patient jokes isn’t one of them. Maybe he’s playing Garnett. If Garnett believes cancer is the button to push, he’ll focus on that and avoid the correct button next time.

My advice to Villanueva: whether that last paragraph is true or not right now, make it true before you next play the Celtics – for your own sanity.