Boston Celtics forward Glen “Big Baby” Davis had surgery on Tuesday to repair his broken right thumb after fighting with a childhood friend while riding in an SUV less than two days before the season opener.
A police report identified Davis as the victim and said his friend, Shawn Bridgewater, appeared to be intoxicated.
Davis is expected to miss at least six weeks, though the Celtics said he also could be suspended for his behavior.
While his teammates were in Cleveland on Tuesday preparing for the Celtics’ opening game against the Cavaliers, Davis was undergoing an operation at a Boston hospital. In a statement released by the team, Davis apologized to his teammates, coaches and the organization.
“I am extremely disappointed that this incident occurred and that it will prevent me from starting the season with the rest of my teammates,” he said. “My teammates and the entire Celtics organization are extremely important to me and I will do my best to expedite the healing process and be back on the court as soon as possible.”
That might not be good enough for the Celtics.
Owner Wyc Grousbeck told The Associated Press that Davis could be suspended for violating the contract he signed this summer, which would pay him about $6 million over the next two years.
“We are talking with his representatives and will likely move to suspend him for a period of time once we have all the facts in front of us,” Grousbeck said. “We expect him to return to the team ready to contribute once his hand is healed. This situation, while regrettable, can be a catalyst for a team coming together.”
Celtics coach Doc Rivers is upset with Davis and the circumstances that led to the injury.
“I’m supportive of ‘Baby’ but I’m disappointed,” Rivers said before Tuesday night’s game. “It puts everybody in a bad way and, obviously, the timing of it wasn’t great, but I don’t know if there is a good time for it. It happened. When we got the results back, we were hoping for the best that it would be a bad lesson, but not a lesson that was going to hurt our team as well. It turned out to be both.”
On the possibility of Davis being suspended, Rivers said, “I’ve been in on the conversations very little. Basically, I don’t want to be a part of that right now because I have a job to do. We’ve got time to discuss what we want to do there. Something is going to happen, obviously.”
Rivers spoke to Davis on Monday but offered no details on their talk.
“That’s a private conversation,” Rivers said. “It wasn’t a jovial one, I can tell you that. But it was an honest one.”
While disappointed in Davis, Rivers is standing by him.
“I’ll make this point, ‘Baby’ is not a bad person,” Rivers said. “He made a bad mistake. He made a bad judgment. Unfortunately, it only takes one second or five seconds to make a mistake and then you have to live with it at times. Right now, he has to live with that mistake. He’s not a bad kid. He’s grown. He’s maturing. Obviously, he has a ways to go, but we want to help him do that. I really feel that’s part of my job as coach to help him become a better person and to not put himself in ways like this.”
Rivers isn’t certain when Davis will return.
According to the police report, officers found Davis at 4 a.m. Monday walking shirtless near a black SUV that had stopped in the middle of the road, less than one-quarter mile from his Waltham house. Davis told police he had gotten into a fight with Bridgewater, whom he identified as his “best friend since childhood,” while driving back from a restaurant in Boston.
Davis’ girlfriend and her friend were also in the car; the report said all four concurred that Bridgewater, who like Davis is from Baton Rouge, La., threw the first punch and the 6-foot-9, 289-pound forward retaliated, leaving Bridgewater with a fat lip and blood around the mouth and nose. Both Davis and Bridgewater refused medical attention, before Davis and his girlfriend walked home.
A backup for most of his career, Davis moved into the starting lineup after Kevin Garnett was injured last season and went from 21 minutes a game to 36 while bumping his scoring average from 7 points to 15.8. Davis became a restricted free agent this summer but re-signed with the Celtics after to a two-year deal worth about $6 million.
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