Just yesterday, I was watching an old Suns/Rockets game on ESPN Classic when I was reminded of the time Robert Horry threw a towel in Danny Ainge‘s face when Ainge was coaching Horry in Phoenix. (The only team with which Rob didn’t win a championship.) Like a lot of older controversial sports stories, I always wonder how things would’ve played out differently had it happened in 2009 with today’s media climate.
I thought that same thing just now when I heard about Al Harrington‘s interview with Bay Area radio station KNBR. Talking about his time with the Warriors, which ended with Harrington falling out of favor with Don Nelson and being benched before he was traded to the Knicks, Harrington said:
“I just didn’t feel like Coach respected me as a man and I just felt like I had to make a move before I did something that I would regret.”
That sounds like what Latrell Sprewell would’ve said if he’d been traded from Golden State before he choked out P.J. Carlesimo. And if Harrington had pulled a Sprewell move on Nellie, can you imagine how much bigger of a story it would be with today’s media?
First off, you know somebody would’ve caught the altercation on their camera-phone. And remember, this would’ve been post-Ron Artest at the Palace; David Stern would probably suspend Harrington for two years, and he’d be vilified by two million blogs, podcasts, newspaper and magazine columns, and TV segments. Around the Horn would devote an entire episode to their guys calling Harrington the dirtiest of all dogs, and SportsCenter would cover his punishment proceedings like it was the Kobe trial all over again. Al Harrington would be the most famous athlete in the country for a couple of months, then it would die down after Brett Favre was spotted playing Madden using the Texans, sparking rumors that Favre wanted to play the next season in Houston.
It’d be too bad, too, because I’ve met and worked with Al before and he’s a good dude. (Same for Artest, for that matter.) But every man has his limits, whether it’s having a cup of water thrown on him or being treated like less than a man. Fortunately, Nellie and Harrington’s beef didn’t get to that regretful place.