During his playing days, Danny Ainge was known to be a rough and tough son of a gun who would do anything to win — even if he had to shed some blood. In a 1983 playoff series between the Boston Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks, Ainge got what he wished for from a man called Tree.
Ainge vs. Tree
In the third quarter of Game 3 of the 1983 playoff series between the Hawks and the Celtics, center Wayne “Tree” Rollins jogged back to the other side of the floor after scoring a slam dunk. Near midcourt, Rollins seemingly hit Ainge with a running clothesline. The Celtics guard tackled Rollins to the floor, where a grappling fight ensued.
Players from both teams ran to the floor to separate the two. Rollins had a grip on Ainge, which, as the wounds would later show, was actually a bite. Ainge narrated the freak incident from his point of view.
“We got into a little scuffle out on the court by the foul line and he almost bit my finger off,” Ainge said. “He bit it all the way through. I had to get two stitches. Usually, you don’t put stitches on a human bite. But just to keep everything in there together, they had to put a couple of stitches in there,” Ainge said, per Sports Illustrated via Yahoo Sports.
”Tree Bites Man”
The Celtics beat the Hawks to boot them out of the playoffs. But their win didn’t necessarily become the most popular headline. The Boston Herald reported the incident with a very creative headline.
Players and commentators were in the shadows with regard to the specifics. All they saw was a grappling fight between Rollins and Ainge. However, Ainge, who’s a brawler by nature, already knew that Tree was chomping on his middle finger. Asked if he knew what was happening, Ainge said:
“Oh, yeah, I knew it was happening,” he said. “Oh, yeah.”
From the looks of it, Ainge knew that a brawl was about to kick off anytime soon. He said that Rollins was getting extra physical with setting screens and had knocked out Quinn Buckner. When Ainge and Rollins bumped into each other in midcourt, Ainge said he had two choices: “I could run, or I could go for the legs.”
What happens on the court stays on it. This is the adage that Ainge lives by. He holds zero grudges against the Tree, who bit his middle finger.
“He was a good person, good guy, good teammate. I don’t have any issues with him. It’s just something that happened in the heat of the moment,” Ainge said per USA Today.