Remember how contentious that first-round series was between Atlanta and Boston in the 2008 playoffs? Yapping, thugging, mean-mugging all over the place, and eighth-seeded Atlanta taking the eventual champs to seven games before Boston casually dispatched the underdog with a roughly 40,000-point beating in the pivotal game.
We mention this, of course, because we always like dragging up 18-month old news. No no, we kid. That’s not true. No, the real issue is that apparently, that trash talk between Al Horford and Paul Pierce at the end of Game Three might have been over a cool $10,000 - a bet that, according to Henry Abbott, is outstanding to this day.
From ESPN’s TRUEHOOP:
The hosts asked Horford, who was on the show with teammate Marvin Williams, if he ever got the chance to clear the air with Pierce after the game.
“I never talked to him,” says Horford, “but I know he owes me money. Marvin was a witness. He was telling me they were going to sweep us and all this. We bet. And I never got anything.”
Asked how much he’s owed, Horford says “ten thousand” and then explains that bet was that the Hawks would not get swept.
Here’s the aforementioned scrap between Pierce and Horford, in two different videos:
For the record, Lady Announcer, Pierce is not Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant when it comes to trash talk. Pierce’s Game 4 was a pedestrian 5-14 from the field and 4-8 from the line, all adding up to an 18-point, 7-rebound night as the Celtics choked away a fourth quarter lead and let the Hawks tie the series up. Not a horrible performance, of course, but let’s not pretend that Horford doomed Atlanta there.
Abbott’s understandably skittish about the basic notion that money was bandied about when it comes to athletes and playoff games. While we certainly agree that you don’t want to go down that “slippery slope,” we’ll also point out that a “slippery slope” is a type of logical fallacy, and there’s a chasm of difference between two players betting on themselves and a player taking money to tank a game.
Besides, no matter what David Stern tries to turn the NBA into, a little good, old-fashioned hate is good for the drama of the playoffs. Side wagers help that along just nicely.