Most of the NBA world will remember it as the day the phrase “Honey Nut Cheerios” took on a whole new meaning. For Tyronn Lue, it was an opportunity to show leadership and play mediator between two hot-headed superstars in order to avoid a potentially ugly (and expensive) incident.
During a regular-season game between the Celtics and Knicks in January of 2013, Kevin Garnett, as is his wont, took things a little too far with his on-court jawing at Carmelo Anthony, supposedly saying some pretty profane things about his wife LaLa. The whole thing spilled over into the tunnel after the game and nearly erupted into a full-blown melee.
Lue was an assistant coach in Boston during this time and reportedly helped dissolve the situation before things could get any further out of hand. Via Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com:
I just kind of broke it up and said, ‘No, we’re not going to do this. KG, come on, let’s get on the bus,'” Lue said, describing how he ushered Garnett onto the Celtics’ chartered vehicle.
Then it was time to go work on Anthony again.
“I get Carmelo’s number,” Lue said. “I call him, talk to him and put KG on the phone with him on the bus and they talked and we squashed it from there.”
So, there you have it. Lue, all 5’11 1/2 of him, intervened between two literal titans of the NBA and prevented a scenario that could potentially have had career-and-legacy-altering implications had it been allowed to escalate any further.
That knack for handling notoriously-difficult superstars is at least partially why he’s currently coaching the Cleveland Cavaliers. And he hasn’t quite gotten his team playing at a championship level yet, he reportedly has a much better rapport with the guys in the locker room than David Blatt ever did, which is a step in the right direction.