Ah yes, the name game. A game oftentimes used in school or summer camp to help everyone learn each other’s name. It’s great for kickstarting conversation, setting an unfamiliar group at ease, or trolling your opponent in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
After Tuesday’s Game 2, Eric Bledsoe was asked a question about Boston Celtics guard Terry Rozier and cordially replied, “Who? I don’t even know who the f*** that is.” He upheld the NBA’s reputation of being the most petty group of professionals on the face of the planet, but did Rozier actually make the first move?
Following Game 1, the Celtics guard referred to Eric Bledsoe as Drew Bledsoe, the former New England Patriots quarterback.
So maybe Scary Terry started this whole debacle after all, but sticking with the Patriots theme, Rozier gave a very Belichick-like response on Thursday morning. “I made a huge mistake. But it is what it is now. I don’t care.” said a laughing Rozier.
One can understand Bledsoe responding to Rozier’s mistake in the way he did, because after all, the NBA’s petty war stops for no man. In that regard, his postgame comments might actually be warranted. However there was probably some genuine frustration coming from the Bucks guard, as Rozier has held the upper hand so far through two games. He has zero turnovers in 78 minutes and a what-should-have-been step-back game winner after crossing over Bledsoe.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) April 15, 2018
Rozier stuck with his Belichick-like responses for the entirety of his media availability on Thursday, downplaying the situation to the best of his ability. “I ain’t got no bad blood with nobody. Everybody out here play basketball. Ain’t nobody no boxers or none of that stuff. I’m not really worried about all that. I’m not caught up in that. I’m worried about Celtics and Bucks, how can I help my team get past the first round?”
On the other side, Bledsoe continued to play into the comments, but also moved the focus towards Game 3. When asked about his postgame remarks about Rozier, the Bucks guard quickly responded, “Who?” Credit to Bledsoe, he’s committed to the petty mentality.
When directly asked if he knew who Rozier was, the emphasis turned to Friday’s Game 3. “I’m focused on this series, man,” Bledsoe said. “Between Milwaukee and Boston right now. I’m just trying to help the team win. That’s what point guards do.”
Rozier has surely helped his team win in Games 1 and 2, averaging 23 points, 5.5 assists, and 3.5 rebounds. The Celtics are a plus-19 with him on the floor, which is a reflection of Rozier’s zero turnovers. Bledsoe on the other hand has struggled, averaging 10.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 3 turnovers through two playoff games.
Bottom line here, yes, maybe this started with Scary Terry’s Drew Bledsoe mistake, but it’s clear he’s moved on from the comments. If he hasn’t, the solution is simple: Rozier needs to wear a Drew Bledsoe jersey into one of these next two games to combat Bledsoe’s pettiness. If he doesn’t, it will be the greatest missed opportunity of the 2017-18 season.
The series continues tonight in Milwaukee at 9:30 PM ET.