FanDuel - WFBC

November 03, 2010

Kevin Garnett Makes 'Cancer Patient' Dig at Opponent: During last night's Celtics/Pistons game, Boston forward Kevin Garnett told Detroit player Charlie Villanueva that he looks like a "cancer patient," Villanueva claimed on Twitter. Villanueva suffers from alopecia universalis, an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss. "I'm pissed ... he's tossing it like it's a joke," he tweeted. "I know way 2 many people who passed away from it."

posted by rcade to basketball at 06:55 PM - 59 comments

Should anyone really be bothering to follow Charlie Villaneuva until the Pistons win a game? Once they win I will listen to Charlie bitch about his folically challenged nature and the idea that he may or may not have some irregular cells that proliferate in an uncontrolled way. Besides, hasn't Charlie learned that Twitter really isn't his friend.

posted by Demophon at 04:42 PM on November 03

That's in poor taste Kevin. But I've probably said worse in the comfort of my living room.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 06:08 PM on November 03

"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.'"

Wow. That's a hell of an apology, KG.

posted by Rock Steady at 06:17 PM on November 03

Sean Avery is playing for the Celtics now ?

posted by tommytrump at 06:30 PM on November 03

You are cancerous to your team and our league.

I would wager eating a small boatload of hats those are not the words that came out of Garnett's mouth.

Retire already, you classless fucking prick.

posted by wfrazerjr at 06:44 PM on November 03

I somehow imagine a lot worse is said during games than that.

Plus, I think there's something to be said for keeping trash talking on the court. While what KG said may not have been classy, repeating what's said during the heat of the game seems to break one of those unspoken rules of sports. I reckon we'd find a lot of the trash talking appalling if it were re-tweeted or repeated to the press.

posted by jmd82 at 06:47 PM on November 03

I reckon we'd find a lot of the trash talking appalling if it were re-tweeted or repeated to the press.

In fact, I'd be disappointed if we didn't.

posted by Joey Michaels at 08:06 PM on November 03

There are certain trash-talking no-go areas. A player's medical condition seems to be one of them. Ask Kenyon Martin.

posted by bperk at 08:10 PM on November 03

"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.'

Yeah right.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 08:20 PM on November 03

Total miscommunication, he really said 'You've been cancelled - your team is out of the league'

posted by kokaku at 09:19 PM on November 03

Not a very classy comment, but like its been said already I would be surprised if things much worse weren't said during games. The point of trash talking is to get under the other guys skin, and obviously KG did that. Would I have said it? No, but such is life.

posted by Andy1087 at 09:43 PM on November 03

The point of trash talking is to get under the other guys skin, and obviously KG did that.

I suspect that, to get under some players' skins, trash talk has to approach the sort of level on would expect a comedian to reach while telling The Aristocrats. Then, once your opponents get used to that, you have to take it to a whole other level of awful.

Strategically, Villanueva has given various assholes from opposing teams an easy opening. If I know what's going to get into his head and I'm a douchebag, I'm totally going there.

For what they pay a typical NBA player, I would be willing to be a douchebag. That is the amount I'd need to be paid before I'd be willing to cross that line. In fact, if you have anyone that you'd like me to treat like a douchebag, I'll do it in exchange for a first round rookie's starting salary.

posted by Joey Michaels at 09:50 PM on November 03

If you've got an autoimmune disorder that makes your hair fall out, and that's it, are you really entitled to hijack the righteous indignation you imagine you'd have if you were a cancer patient?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:21 PM on November 03

Villanueva wasn't hijacking anything. He has as much right to call out Garnett for a tasteless insult as anybody else.

posted by rcade at 10:39 PM on November 03

Kevin Garnett is an astral king. Astral kings don't play by mortal rules, they defeat interdimensional monstrosities with galaxy-shredding jams. Villannueva has never had his mind assaulted by such a ruthless psychic attack.

That's starting to ring hollow. What a jerk.

posted by Hugh Janus at 11:58 PM on November 03

lbb,

I kind of agree with what I take to be your basic intuition: Charlie V. was pissed that his team lost, he got worked by KG/was fouled too hard, something like that, & decided to throw KG under the bus via twitter (really bold method to confront a guy by the way) by tapping into a genuine subject of concern for many people. No way KG doesn't come out looking like the villain.

Obviously, if he said it, a large degree of that outrage directed at KG is completely merited, but the context & the method used make it seem a bit disengenuous-i mean is that really the worst thing someone has said to him? Does he tweet all insensitive things said to him (I really am asking this-i don't follow him on twitter)? If not, why? While KG's comments are out of line, I'm a bit less inclined to kill the guy for it if he is being singled out b/c CV doesn't handle his anger at him, justified or not, that well. Do we really want to go down this rabbit hole regarding trash talk? How many "respectable" NBA players will we find? 3?

posted by brainofdtrain at 02:20 AM on November 04

Villanueva wasn't hijacking anything. He has as much right to call out Garnett for a tasteless insult as anybody else.

Consider the context, rcade. Was it genuine indignation over a tasteless insult, or a case of "aha, you just handed me an issue that I can beat you with"?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 05:43 AM on November 04

Was it genuine indignation over a tasteless insult, or a case of "aha, you just handed me an issue that I can beat you with"?

I guess it depends on if you believe Charlie V is a big a douchebag as Garnett. I don't know the man personally, but the people I know who work for the Raptors seemed to think he was a good dude at heart.

Put in the same siuation, I don't know if I would have gone public with it or just clotheslined KG at some point in the season and said, "Pretty strong for a cguy on chemo, huh?"

posted by wfrazerjr at 07:11 AM on November 04

Wow. That's a hell of an apology, KG.

Why should KG apologize if he didn't say what Villanueva is accusing him of saying?

It's just a case of who's word do you believe. If KG said it, then he's totally classless for saying it. On the other hand, if Villanueva misunderstood what was said and accused KG via Twitter when it wasn't even close to being accurate, he's a douche for taking it there instead of confronting KG about it like a man.

posted by BornIcon at 07:41 AM on November 04

Was it genuine indignation over a tasteless insult, or a case of "aha, you just handed me an issue that I can beat you with"?

Who knows? I don't see how you can determine that Villaneuva was being calculating rather than just taking offense. Looking at his other tweets, he seems to be genuine and a blabbermouth.

It's not hard to believe that he's been touched by cancer in his life and got mad at what Garnett said (or what he thought he said).

posted by rcade at 07:55 AM on November 04

Why should KG apologize if he didn't say what Villanueva is accusing him of saying?

Because his explanation fails Occam's Razor. It's overly verbose, not insulting and requires a level of reflection on both KG and CV's part that I don't think one would expect to see during the heat of a game. Is it a trash talk timebomb designed to destroy Villanueva's confidence in himself by the next time they play?

All that said (and with the disclosure that I am a fan of both the Celtics and KG as a player), I cannot believe the level of indignation around this. I wish Minnesota had waited a couple of days to cut Moss, because then ESPN wouldn't have been shopping around for something to run as "BREAKING NEWS" with a red background on the ticker, like this is somehow out of the ordinary. It makes me want to throw up when each and every ESPN anchor acts like they're going to be sick to their stomach reading a story. Faux moralism sucks to begin with. Getting it from someone who's only qualification is to look moderately ok and be literate is worse.

1.
The only thing that seems out of the ordinary here is that a professional athlete would admit to being upset by trash talk. How does this benefit Villaneuva in the long term? It adds a bit to KG's reputation as a monomaniacal douche, but it'll be forgotten in a week (except for 3 days around the next Pistons/ Celtics tilt when ESPN runs an inordinate amount of coverage leading up to a whole lot of nothing). It gives every other team and their fans ammunition.

2.
Really? You grew up with alopecia, played sports at a competitive level throughout your life and "cancer patient" was the straw that broke the camel's back? At what age do you honestly think Villaneuva stopped even hearing insults about his lack of hair?

3.
In the further interests of disclosure, I'll admit to being a card-carrying member of George Carlin's "You Can Joke About Anything" club. Why is cancer off the table? If Garnett had called him a "naked mole rat", would that have been ok? If so, what is it about cancer? It's such a generic condition that I can't imagine anyone hearing of KG's insult and getting upset. My mom died of cancer two years ago. It was the worst experience of my life and I carry it with me every day. In no way did this dredge up even a smidgen of upset. What kind of cancer are we talking about? Because if we're going to act like this is horrible since liver or stomach or pancreatic cancer is a death sentence, can I act like it's no big deal at all since hundreds of people a day have skin cancers removed in a quick outpatient procedure?

4.
It's trash talk. The whole point is to say something outrageous. I spent all of my adolescent life (and a shameful amount of my grown-up years) saying much worse that this to my friends. It's what guys do in private. We could have a whole segment of each night's news devoted to indecorous things guys said to each other in the last 15 minutes. I've said stuff that would peel the paint off the walls and I'm not the least bit ashamed of it because I didn't mean it. Start acting like people have to mean what they say and can only say what is acceptable to the weakest stomachs in the world and we might as well start burning books again. It's a recipe for a shitty, bland world. If we're going to do this, as I said last night, I hope ESPN takes a tough stand against all those players who are constantly making derisive reference to men who have sex with women who have children.

posted by yerfatma at 08:57 AM on November 04

Wait a second, what KG said in his explanation (not apology, who said it was an apology? Demigods need never apologize) was far more insulting than what Villanueva thinks he said on the court. "You look like a cancer patient" is nothing compared to "You are a cancer to your team and our league."

posted by Hugh Janus at 08:59 AM on November 04

"You look like a cancer patient" is nothing compared to "You are a cancer to your team and our league."

Yea, I didn't get this either. If the reason the former insult is being attacked is because it makes light of cancer and those with cancer, why is the 2nd not equally politically incorrect?

posted by bdaddy at 09:33 AM on November 04

I spent all of my adolescent life (and a shameful amount of my grown-up years) saying much worse that this to my friends. It's what guys do in private.

Exactly! And most guys trash talk their friends just as much in a private setting. What KG said or didn't say to Villanueva was also in a private setting even though it was in a sports arena. Athletes trash talk one another all the time but for Villanueva to Twitter about his conversation with KG really wasn't necessary at all.

By the way fatty, sorry to hear about your mom. My uncle passed away from cancer as well and this topic didn't upset me either.

posted by BornIcon at 10:35 AM on November 04

It is absurd to describe an NBA court as a private setting. Do you think the fans in the front row don't hear the stuff the players are saying to each other?

posted by rcade at 10:40 AM on November 04

In the further interests of disclosure, I'll admit to being a card-carrying member of George Carlin's "You Can Joke About Anything" club.

I like Carlin myself, but you are aware he was a prick, right?

posted by wfrazerjr at 10:47 AM on November 04

It is absurd to describe an NBA court as a private setting.

How so? If your out in the public walking down the street having a private conversation with someone, does that mean that someone walking by can involve themselves in the conversation?

Just because they're on the basketball court doesn't make their conversations any less private.

posted by BornIcon at 10:49 AM on November 04

It is absurd to describe an NBA court as a private setting. Do you think the fans in the front row don't hear the stuff the players are saying to each other?

You can't have it both ways though: why aren't you outraged about the anti-coprophagia bias displayed by every NBA big man when he screams "GET THAT SHIT OUTTA HERE!" when he blocks a shot? Why aren't we fired up about all the untoward words that come out of athletes' mouths? No, it's not a private space, but it essentially was one for years until the introduction of parabolic mikes (first noticed by me in the '94 Rangers/ Canucks Stanley Cup final when one of the players expressed his unhappiness with Mr Gregson the referee via a clearly audible, "Terry, what the fuck!?") and so-close-you-can-touch them courtside seats.

Yes this has gone on forever, but it's only now where the courtside seats belong to rich pricks and every place tries to pack the stadium with family nights that we get this "What about the children" wailing.

I like Carlin myself, but you are aware he was a prick, right?

You are aware I am too, right?

posted by yerfatma at 10:52 AM on November 04

Just because they're on the basketball court doesn't make their conversations any less private.

They are putting on a public performance for an audience of thousands who have paid to see them. There's nothing private about it. Stop redefining words.

... why aren't you outraged about the anti-coprophagia bias displayed by every NBA big man when he screams "GET THAT SHIT OUTTA HERE!" when he blocks a shot?

I'm not outraged about this. It was a tasteless comment and he's getting some bad press over it, but I don't think we need to call Congressional hearings over it.

posted by rcade at 11:01 AM on November 04

There's nothing private about it. Stop redefining words.

How am I redefining words? What players say to one another is not something they may want the public to hear and players talk to one another all the time, do they not?

If Villanueva didn't tweet what he thought he may or may not heard from KG, we would've never heard about it at all. Villanueva is the one who made those comments public, it wasn't someone that overheard it from the front row. I'm still trying to understand why Villanueva didn't say or do something to KG when he heard what he thought he heard? What does he gain out of tweeting this?

posted by BornIcon at 11:11 AM on November 04

Garnett is losing his trash-talking touch anyway. Villanueva isn't a cancer at all. He was born in late August, which makes him a virgo.

posted by NerfballPro at 11:50 AM on November 04

It's not hard to believe that he's been touched by cancer in his life and got mad at what Garnett said (or what he thought he said).

I watched a special about Villanueva and his work with children with alopecia. The meanness and teasing they face is real and sad. They face lots of comments like Garnett's, so I don't think Villanueva has to have been touched by cancer to get pissed by Garnett's comments.

I've said stuff that would peel the paint off the walls and I'm not the least bit ashamed of it because I didn't mean it.

Right, except I have trouble believing Garnett didn't mean it. Trash talk is great and can be fun. But, generally, people aren't really trying to wound their opponents, just distract them. There has to be a line where trash talk isn't sportsmanlike anymore. Talking about sick family members? Dead family members? A medical condition is past that line for me.

posted by bperk at 11:52 AM on November 04

Right, except I have trouble believing Garnett didn't mean it.

Didn't mean what? He does look like a cancer patient.

There has to be a line where trash talk isn't sportsmanlike anymore. Talking about sick family members? Dead family members? A medical condition is past that line for me.

Isn't it possible that some people get to the top of the sporting heap because they'll do anything they can to win? Isn't that what we supposedly demand from athletes (if my viewing of the "NFL's 100 Greatest Players" has taught me anything). My real annoyance with this incident is the fans turning up the nose at Garnett's behavior when it's in line with the mindset a fair percentage of fans demand from players. I don't think there's a replay that gets me more hyped than Tedy Bruschi tearing the ball away from the Colts runner in the 2003 AFC Championship. He "wanted it more" and made the other player look like a fool, chipped away at his manhood, to come out on top. I love it. To act like our fandom clearly stops at encouraging players to bad mouth each other about a certain topic is burying one's head in the sand.

posted by yerfatma at 12:14 PM on November 04

There has to be a line where trash talk isn't sportsmanlike anymore. Talking about sick family members? Dead family members?

I think I could see a real issue here if Garnett had said something along the lines of "Your mom looks like a cancer patient" (I'm just using an example here, so no disrespect to anyone reading this). To me at least, that's where the line is. An opponent could direct verbal shots at me personally and I'd just think "yeah whatever". But to family members, there are still plenty of people, even professional athletes, who'd take umbrage at that.

I'm not saying they all get pissed at such comments, or should or shouldn't, that's just how it is.

posted by NerfballPro at 12:22 PM on November 04

I watched a special about Villanueva and his work with children with alopecia. The meanness and teasing they face is real and sad. They face lots of comments like Garnett's, so I don't think Villanueva has to have been touched by cancer to get pissed by Garnett's comments.

I don't have alopecia, and I don't know what they go through re: meanness and teasing. But I'm going to be totally honest here: I followed the link, read about what the disease does (hair loss), and my first thought was, "I'll trade my autoimmune disorder for that in a heartbeat." And if I had cancer, and I was losing hair due to treatments, I am pretty sure I'd feel the same. I'd a hell of a lot rather look funny and get no end of teasing for it, than have what I have.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 01:13 PM on November 04

I found this video about Rasheed and his trash talking, filmed a few years ago, and seems to be cleaned up significantly from what I've heard during games at the Palace. He mentions that talking about another player's family is strictly off-limits. He also shows that NBA players can't afford new sweat pants...

posted by MeatSaber at 01:34 PM on November 04

I don't feel comfortable making a claim about which disorders or diseases are worse than others. I'd just like all of them to be off-limits for trash talking.

Right, except I have trouble believing Garnett didn't mean it.

Didn't mean what? He does look like a cancer patient.

You didn't feel bad about your trash-talking because you didn't mean it, right? I followed from that that it is different somehow if you do mean what you are saying.

My real annoyance with this incident is the fans turning up the nose at Garnett's behavior when it's in line with the mindset a fair percentage of fans demand from players.

Those fans don't control Garnett. He makes his own decisions about he wants to treat his fellow man. He is a grown man, not a kid on the playground. He can't say just anything and make an excuse that he is just a winner. I'm pretty sure we have had discussions here about what is and what is not off-limits for fans to yell at players. I would think that fellow players would have even stricter rules than fans.

posted by bperk at 01:36 PM on November 04

Those fans don't control Garnett.

I'm not saying they do. I'm saying they're happy to celebrate his hard-nosed style except when it clashes with the person they claim to be to the outside world. It's disingenuous to pretend we're above the sort of comment KG (probably) made, unless you never notice when someone with no hair or a big birthmark on their face or something else out of the norm walks by.

posted by yerfatma at 02:54 PM on November 04

There's a difference between noticing someone going through chemo, and noticing someone going through chemo and saying, "GodDAMN, you are one BALD motherfucker!"

It's the difference between being human and being a dick.

Also, I haven't seen anyone upset that Garnett thinks it's okay to make fun of cancer patients for looking the way they do after chemotherapy. That had to have been his take, or how would it be trash talk? Or would Garnett say the same thing on a visit to a children's ward?

posted by wfrazerjr at 04:42 PM on November 04

Uh, seriously, "you look like [anything]" is nowhere near the insult that "you are a cancer to your team and our league" is, regardless of the cancer reference. Maybe KG actually did say the latter, and Villanueva's memory and ego changed it to the former because the latter is so much more hurtful.

posted by Hugh Janus at 04:52 PM on November 04

It's time to throw a little stink into this game. Alopecia Universalis IS NOT a cancer. It is an auto immune disease similar to rheumatoid arthritis (for which I am under treatment). Some will mistake it for cancer because one treatment for any auto immune disease is the use of immune system suppressants, many of which are also used to treat cancers. Thus, Villanueva's resentment at being called a cancer patient is misplaced. Not that making fun of anyone with hair loss is to be condoned, but someone who works with those who suffer from the disease should at least understand the difference. If Garnett indeed say what Villanueva believes he heard, then a better apology is in order.

If all that Garnett said is that Villanueva is cancerous to the league, then we need to leave it alone. Garnett was on the bench at the time, so his remarks would have been said quite loudly. There is no contradiction of Garnett's version from anyone connected with the Celtics (as you would expect), but neither is there any confirmation of Villanueva's version of events. It's a "he said, she said", and you may believe whomever you please. The larger point that is not being adequately discussed is whether or not players should take their squabbles with other players or teams public. My take is to do your talking on the court with your abilities, not your mouth.

posted by Howard_T at 05:49 PM on November 04

Can we get past the idea the insult here is to Charlie V? It was stupid trash talk because it wasn't -- it was an affront to anyone out there fighting the disease by making their appearance a manner of insult.

Also, I haven't seen anyone upset that Garnett thinks it's okay to make fun of cancer patients for looking the way they do after chemotherapy.

Okay, Adrian Wojnarowski is upset about it.

posted by wfrazerjr at 06:08 PM on November 04

Or would Garnett say the same thing on a visit to a children's ward?

He'd say: "You are cancerous to your children's ward and this hospital. Suck on that, Make a Wish foundation."

Oh, and... wait for it....

"Anything is Possible!!"

posted by cjets at 06:18 PM on November 04

The larger point that is not being adequately discussed is whether or not players should take their squabbles with other players or teams public.

That's the larger point?

posted by rcade at 07:25 PM on November 04

"Can we get past" other people's ideas or opinions of a nebulous situation like this is a poor way of expressing yourself.

It's a matter of what you believe was said. "You are a cancer to ____" is a heavy thing to say to somebody, but not offensive to anybody out there fighting the disease. "You look like a cancer patient" is.

I wouldn't really consider either of them to be particularly reliable as to what was said. But I don't think twitter is the right way to handle this.

posted by Hugh Janus at 08:47 PM on November 04

It is an auto immune disease similar to rheumatoid arthritis (for which I am under treatment).

Similar in what way? In that they're autoimmune disorders? Sure, but in terms of symptoms, I thought that the extent of alopecia's symptoms was hair loss. Am I wrong about that?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 09:10 AM on November 05

But I don't think twitter is the right way to handle this.

It doesn't matter how many times you send me that invite, I'm not going to join Friendster.

posted by yerfatma at 09:39 AM on November 05

"Can we get past" other people's ideas or opinions of a nebulous situation like this is a poor way of expressing yourself.

You're right, Hugh. I'll rephrase.

If you believe Kevin Garnett actually said, "You are cancerous to your team and our league," you're an idiot.

posted by wfrazerjr at 11:51 AM on November 05

So much for the benefit of the doubt.

posted by Hugh Janus at 12:49 PM on November 05

I don't tend the give the benefit of the doubt to idiots.

posted by wfrazerjr at 02:23 PM on November 05

Well that's settled then.

posted by yerfatma at 02:26 PM on November 05

Similar in what way? ... Am I wrong about that?

No, but the point I was trying to make was that autoimmune diseases are not cancers, even though some are treated with immune suppressant drugs that are also used in chemotherapy.

posted by Howard_T at 03:49 PM on November 05

Good one, fraze. And here I thought you were just acting like a dick.

posted by Hugh Janus at 04:42 PM on November 05

It bugs me when there's a heated argument going on here and I'm not involved.

posted by rcade at 05:16 PM on November 05

I'm a dick because I don't give the benefit of the doubt to idiots?

posted by wfrazerjr at 07:46 PM on November 05

No, but the point I was trying to make was that autoimmune diseases are not cancers, even though some are treated with immune suppressant drugs that are also used in chemotherapy.

Oh, ok, I get it know. What I know about chemotherapy would fit into an ant's tooth, but I also have RA.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:30 PM on November 05

I'm a dick because I don't give the benefit of the doubt to idiots?

No, because you do that "Nuff Said" thing a lot, where it's clear you have no interest in discussion but rather would prefer to sermonize from on high. Not that I'm not guilty of it as well, but I've already outed myself as a prick. Dick is probably a step up. You'd have to ask a rugby-playing dog.

posted by yerfatma at 09:47 AM on November 06

I was actually saying Hugh was right in this case, and that I shouldn't have said it the way I did. It was too mealy-mouthed, and I rephrased.

I think if you go back and look through the major arguments here, I'm extremely willing to listen and bend when a coherent argument is made against my opinion. The phrase "'nuf said" actually goes through my head and I try to avoid it. However, if that admonishment comes from both you and Hugh, I have to give it some credence. I'll watch for it a little more closely from now on.

I will strongly disagree from sermonizing on high, though -- I think I'm about as lowbrow as you can get.

Fart poop dick joke.

posted by wfrazerjr at 11:12 AM on November 06

I think if you go back and look through the major arguments here, I'm extremely willing to listen and bend when a coherent argument is made against my opinion.

I also learn I'm wrong here sometimes, based on the arguments made against me. I hate that.

posted by rcade at 11:46 AM on November 06

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