WALTHAM — On Monday morning, Kelly Olynyk’s friend sent him a photo-shopped image that had aired during TNT’s NBA broadcast on Sunday night. It was a playful illustration about the Celtics’ season coming to an end, and, among other things, it showed Olynyk holding a human arm.
The joke was it was supposed to be the arm of Cavaliers forward Kevin Love, who suffered a dislocated shoulder when he and Olynyk tangled during Sunday’s playoff game at TD Garden. And Olynyk, for one, didn’t find the humor in the picture.
Over the past two days, he has received threats via social media, he has attempted to reach out to Love to apologize, and he has hoped to make it clear he had no malicious intent on the play that has sidelined the star forward.
The NBA on Monday suspended Olynyk for the first game of the 2015-16 season. Prior to that announcement, Olynyk requested an interview to share his side of the story and to express his remorse.
“I’d love to obviously apologize to him for the misfortune and let him know it’s definitely not my intent, at all,” Olynyk told the Globe. “Just wish him well and hopefully he has a very speedy recovery and can come back and help that team win.”
The play occurred with 5:22 remaining in the first quarter of the Cavaliers’ 101-93 Game 4 win that ultimately clinched their series sweep over Boston. As Love and Olynyk began to chase a loose ball, Love initially locked Olynyk’s arm. Olynyk wiggled free and then clamped down on Love’s left arm. His aim, he said, was to hold Love until Celtics guard Avery Bradley could grab the ball. He said he deserved to be called for a foul.
“I didn’t even know it was dislocated when it happened,” Olynyk said. “He kind of started running away and his arm was facing the other way to me. I didn’t even know. Obviously, I knew something was wrong when he ran off the floor. I didn’t know. I couldn’t feel it come out.”
After the game, with his left arm in a sling, Love was furious.
“I thought it was a bush-league play,” he said. “I mean, I was out there and Olynyk was in a compromised position and had no chance to get the ball. It’s just too bad he would go to those lengths to take somebody out of the game.”
Olynyk insists he did not try to injure Love on purpose.
“I don’t think I could dislocate someone’s arm if I tried,” Olynyk said. “I think it’s a real tough thing to do. Like I said before, it’s kind of ridiculous to say you intentionally meant to. I’d never intentionally hurt someone, him or anybody else for that matter. I don’t think anybody goes out trying to hurt anyone. I think it’s just real unfortunate.
“If you get tangled up and he doesn’t dislocate his shoulder, there’s nothing dirty ever said or anything. It’s just a foul. So I just really hope he can get back as soon as possible and help that team keep making a push.”
The Cavaliers announced that Love will miss the Eastern Conference semifinals because of the injury, and his status beyond that is unknown. Love can opt out of his contract with Cleveland after this season and become a free agent, and Boston long has been rumored to be a potential landing spot.
Crowder has knee sprain
Celtics forward Jae Crowder has a sprained ACL in his left knee and he told the Globe he is expected to be sidelined just a few weeks.
Crowder was injured with 10:24 remaining in the third quarter. He and Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith were tangling in the post when Smith swung his arm backward and struck Crowder in the head. Crowder fell, twisted his knee, and had to be helped off the court.
On Monday, the NBA suspended Smith for two games.
“Cheap shots,” Crowder said as he sat in his car outside the team’s training facility Monday morning. “But it is what it is.”
Crowder was walking without crutches or other assistance. His left knee was wrapped and he had a slight limp.
“It’s a tough way for the season to end and a tough way for myself,” Crowder said. “But I’ll be fine.”
During this series and the latter part of the season, Crowder emerged as the Celtics’ emotional leader, and his aggressive play provided a kind of blueprint for the team. As forward Jonas Jerebko left the training facility Monday, he said he was relieved that Crowder’s injury was not more serious.
“He said the MRI went fine and there’s nothing major, so that’s good news for me and for us and for everybody,” Jerebko said. “You hate to see somebody go down.”
Earlier in Sunday’s game, Crowder was shoved to the floor by Cavaliers forward Kendrick Perkins, who then swiped at Crowder after the two were separated.
“There was nothing malicious about it,” Smith said after Sunday’s game. “I didn’t do anything to try to hurt him.”
Full Kelly Olynyk Q&A
In the first quarter of the Celtics’ Game 4 playoff loss to the Cavaliers, Boston forward Kelly Olynyk and Cleveland forward Kevin Love tangled while chasing a loose ball. Olynyk ultimately clamped down on Love’s left arm, and Love’s left shoulder was dislocated. On Monday, Olynyk sat down with the Globe and discussed his side of the incident as well as his remorse.
What happened on that play?
We were obviously fighting for the rebound. He grabbed my arm first. He clamped me and I clamped him back and we were wrestling for the ball. I tried to hold him away from it so that Avery [Bradley] could get it.
Could you tell right away something had gone wrong?
I didn’t even know it was out, to tell you the truth. I didn’t even know it was dislocated when it happened. He kind of started running away and his arm was facing the other way to me. I didn’t even know. Obviously, I knew something was wrong when he ran off the floor. I didn’t know. I couldn’t feel it come out.
Have you reached out to Kevin?
I didn’t have a chance. I tried to contact a few people I know close to him just to say that, just to apologize for an unfortunate event. Obviously I would never intentionally hurt him or any player on the floor. I don’t think anybody in our league would intentionally try and hurt someone, especially at this time of year. But I haven’t had the opportunity to talk to him. It’s super unfortunate. It’s terrible the way it happened. But, you know, it’s a part of basketball. Everyone gets tangled up and stuff. Unfortunately it happened. You’re always locked up, grabbing, pulling. It’s just unfortunate it happened.
Do you hope to talk to him soon?
If the time is right and if someone thinks it’s appropriate, I’d love to obviously apologize to him for the misfortune and let him know it’s definitely not my intent, at all. Just wish him well and hopefully he has a very speedy recovery and can come back and help that team win.
Did that series feel overly physical?
You hear the playoffs are real physical, you have to be physical here, there, on the glass. And they’re a physical team in terms of they’re a lot of big, strong athletes, so if you’re not physical with them, they’re gonna bully you and do a lot of things to push you around, so you kind of have to step back and hit them too.
Have you realized how much backlash there’s been over the play?
I’d probably get killed if I went to Cleveland right now. I don’t think if someone gave me their arm and I was running forward like that and locked up, I don’t think I could dislocate someone’s arm if I tired. I think it’s a real tough thing to do. Like I said before, it’s kind of ridiculous to say you intentionally meant to. I’d never intentionally hurt someone, him or anybody else for that matter. I don’t think anybody goes out trying to hurt anyone. I think it’s just real unfortunate. If you get tangled up and he doesn’t dislocate his shoulder, there’s’ noting dirty ever said or anything. It’s just a foul. So I just really hope he can get back as soon as possible and help that team keep making a push.