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It's All Fun and Games Until Somebody Breaks a Thumb

By Sarah Barton

10/28/09


I thought that I had Glen Davis all figured out. I saw him make a name (and popularize a nickname) for himself last season. I saw how good he looked this preseason. I know that he worked hard in the off-season. Now, I am left wondering what the regular season has in store for him, despite the fact that it's already underway.


His team won without him last night. The show must go on. But still, what happened? I'm sure he had his reasons for his involvement in what was initially deemed an "off-court altercation" that resulted in a broken thumb. Glen takes great pride in himself, and is also a team-oriented guy. Or at least I thought he was when I thought I had him figured out. When you are getting paid three million dollars a year to use your hands to put a bouncy orange sphere into a firm orange hoop, why risk injury to those hands in something totally work-UNrelated?


The police report (or at least the report of the police report) is vague. I'm sure the scenario wasn't cut-and-dried. Most off-court altercations aren't. (Although this incident is now reported as less of an off-court altercation and more of a fight.) Was it worth it? My guess is no, but who knows. Maybe Davis sacrificed his thumb to save himself, or his girlfriend, from further harm.


The police report contains a few oddities. Davis and his girlfriend were returning home after her birthday celebration with one of her friends and Davis' high school teammate and long-time friend, Shawn Bridgewater. The punches, which were thrown (first by Bridgewater) sometime around 4 o'clock (4 o'clock?) Sunday morning, stemmed from a prior exchange between Bridgewater and Davis' girlfriend. Davis pulled the car over a quarter-mile from his house (a quarter mile?...couldn't this have been more amicably settled at home?), and the fight commenced. Detective William Stanton claimed that Davis was sober, but reports say that Bridgewater appeared intoxicated. Davis says he was defending himself, not fighting. He and his girlfriend walked (walked?) home after police left the scene.


A person who works in an office can get hurt in an out-of-office altercation, but that transgression will not make headlines, even if it affects his job. (Think of Edward Norton in Fight Club.) Unfortunately, Glen spent the greater part of his 2008-09 NBA campaign making a name for himself, then signed a two-year, $6.3 million contract this off-season, thereby making him a superstar. Unfortunately, superstardom does not come with a complimentary judgment enhancement pill, but instead with a high-powered magnifying glass which strictly amplifies bad (and even questionable) decisions.


Maybe Glen wanted to shed the Big Baby nickname. As far as Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck is concerned, he succeeded. To Wyc, Glen will be Glen from now on. No more of this Baby stuff. Babies don't have to take responsibility for their actions. Glens do.

Glen's responsibility is going to come in the form of a lot of watching. Watching games, watching practices, watching his thumb heal for at least six weeks. Tack a suspension on top of that, and the watching continues. Davis is a competitor (see: the 2009 Playoffs), and this is going to kill him. What Davis accomplished last year is not lost, but to reach that level again this season, he must dig himself out of a hole. I imagine that digging with a busted thumb isn't easy; but for the time being, honesty, genuine apologies, and a good attitude can collectively serve as a decent hands-free shovel. Glen showed that he can hold his own in the NBA, but how he rebounds from the fallout from this incident will be far more telling about him as a player, and as a person, than any highlight reel, statistic, or contract.

Where does this leave the artist formerly known as Big Baby? Time will tell. Where does this leave the Celtics? A man down on an already injury-plagued roster (and yes, the season started yesterday). Most importantly, where does this leave me? Well, I'm back at square one in my eternal quest to figure this guy out.

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