INDEPENDENCE, Ohio - A nuisance as an NBA player, Danny Ainge is still being a pest as general manager.
Boston’s GM was spotted in TV replays throwing a white towel in the air to distract Cleveland forward J.J. Hickson at the free-throw line in the third quarter of Game 2 on Monday night.
Ainge, sitting in the first seat to the right of Cleveland’s basket, is seen reaching behind the stanchion to grab one of the ball boy’s towels as Hickson prepares to shoot. Ainge then tosses the towel into the air on Hickson’s second attempt with 1:53 remaining.
At the time, the Celtics were leading 80-57 on their way to winning 104-86 and evening the Eastern Conference semifinal at one game apiece. Hickson made his second free throw.
NBA spokesman Tim Frank said the league is aware of Ainge’s actions and that “the situation is under review.”
Ainge stood on Hickson’s first foul shot but made only slight movements with his upper body. He then sat down and clapped after Hickson missed.
Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said he saw Ainge’s towel toss.
“That was interesting to see that happen during the flow of the game, from Danny Ainge,” Brown said. “If it’s within the rules, hey, at this time, you do whatever you can to win. As long as it’s within the rules.”
Ainge did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment. Celtics spokesman Jeff Twiss said the team would have no comment.
During a 15-year career with Boston, Sacramento, Portland and Phoenix before he retired in 1995, Ainge was a fiery player who was at his best when he was getting under his opponents' skin.
He once irritated Tree Rollins so badly that the Hawks center bit him. Ainge was coaching the Phoenix Suns against the Celtics in 1997 when his own player, Robert Horry, argued with him and threw a towel at him.
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