Commentary

Celtics shrug off Wafer-West fight

Team makes little of altercation, keep focus on defeating Knicks

Updated: October 30, 2010, 10:51 AM ET
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- Ray Allen had already departed the Boston Celtics' practice facility Friday by the time the two players behind him on the team's depth chart at shooting guard -- Delonte West and Von Wafer -- engaged in fisticuffs in the locker room.

Informed of what transpired when he arrived at the TD Garden for Friday night's tilt with the New York Knicks, Allen essentially shrugged and headed out to the floor for his pregame routine.

"My interpretation from being [in the locker room] is that it's just business as usual," Allen said. "We're around each too long -- 82 games, playoffs. I told you guys earlier in the year: We argue to no end. A lot of times you have to agree to disagree. We are brothers."

[+] EnlargeVon Wafer
Lou Capozzola/Getty ImagesVon Wafer (above) was involved in an altercation with Delonte West in the locker room before Friday's game.

And, Allen contends, everyone knows that brothers fight.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

"Kevin [Garnett] and I, we've known each other for a long time, and we argue with the best of them. We always have different opinions, that's just the way it is. You're not always going to see eye to eye. It's a very competitive environment, it's the nature of competition."

The Celtics would prefer that teammates harness that competitive energy in a more productive fashion, but coach Doc Rivers isn't afraid to let tempers flare. More often than not, cooler heads prevail and the team is better because of it.

"What I love about Doc is that he doesn't mind us being competitive, as long as we don't go off on our own and become a tropical storm," Garnett said during training camp last month. "He lets us be who we are, and it does get testy and very competitive in here. He lets us go as long as we're getting something done and working toward our goals."

A locker-room fight, particularly one involving the team's 15th man and a player serving a 10-game suspension for off-the-court troubles, is not working toward Boston's ultimate goal, however.

So then the Celtics turned their attention to the Knicks.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

Tempers originally flared between Wafer and West during a game of two-on-two following Sunday's practice. West scored a couple baskets on Wafer and challenged him multiple times to, "Do something about it." The two then got physical as West tried to aggressively back Wafer down and assistant coach Lawrence Frank stepped in, alongside Jermaine O'Neal, to separate the two. Wafer retreated to the locker room without incident.

That didn't happen Friday. After another ultra-physical game of three-on-three, Wafer again left the court and this time West reportedly followed and a confrontation ensued.

Wafer faced the media before Friday's game, but played coy. Rivers later confirmed the altercation, but didn't elaborate on details, noting that the Celtics would "handle it." In his aversion to a blow-by-blow recap, Rivers seemed more concerned with the fact that details leaked out than the actual scuffle.

"It should have stayed inside the locker room and it didn't," Rivers said. "That's OK, we're just going to leave it alone. [Fights] happen. Some are fine, some are not. I'm not going to say one way or another on this one."

While Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge pledged no disciplinary action against Delonte West, Wafer suited up and saw first-quarter playing time against the Knicks. The crowd's reaction to him checking into the game essentially mimicked Allen's reaction to the news: shrugs and disinterest.

Fortunately for everyone involved, Rajon Rondo put the focus back on the court, making a charge at Bob Cousy's single-game franchise record of 28 assists while producing a triple-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 24 assists in a 105-101 triumph over the Knicks.

After the game, all the chatter was about Rondo and the Celtics bouncing back from a head-shaking loss in Cleveland on Wednesday night. Friday's practice scuffle was already in the rear-view mirror.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

"At some point, it becomes comedy," Allen said. "I'm sure the guys will talk about it and laugh about who did what and how it happened. … I've seen a lot of fights; you'd be amazed. … It doesn't change the dynamic of the team. Sometimes you fight with a guy and the next day you're like, 'Dude, my bad. I caught you with an elbow. I was just angry.' That's the thing, as teammates and as athletes, that we're being trained to do. You face tough situations, some adversity, and you have to figure out a way to overcome it."

And sometimes those athletes simply move on.

Chris Forsberg is the Celtics reporter for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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