Bitter rivals in the 1980s, ex-Celtics guard Danny Ainge and ex-Lakers coach Pat Riley still can’t stand each other.
The NBA executives — Ainge with Boston and Riley with Miami — recently engaged in a war of words over LeBron James, who complained about the lack of fouls called by the referees following the Heat’s first loss in 28 games, to the Bulls.
“It is getting to me a little bit,” James said. “Every time I defend myself, I’ve got to face the consequences of a flagrant or technical foul or whatever the case may be.
“It’s tough. It’s very tough.”
When asked about James’ comments the next day, Ainge told Boston radio station WEEI, “I think that it’s almost embarrassing that LeBron would complain about officiating.”
Ainge’s comments must’ve enraged Riley, who had the Heat’s public relations department release a profane statement:
“Danny Ainge needs to shut the (bleep) up and manage his own team,” Riley said. “He was the biggest whiner going when he was a player. I know that because I coached against him.”
Ainge took Riley’s response in stride, saying, “We’re both right. LeBron should stop complaining, and I should manage my own team.”
Celtics coach Doc Rivers was amused by the exchange between his former coach (Riley) and current boss, saying Ainge “drew (Riley) out.”
“(Riley) doesn’t come out much, but Danny will bring that out in you if you’ve been around Danny long enough,” Rivers said. “They should duke it out. I’d like to be the promoter of that one.”
Ainge joked he couldn’t afford to let the feud with Riley become physical.
“I don’t want to mess up his Armani suits and all that hair goop,” he said. “It would be way too expensive for me.”
■ FINE ME A RIVERCAT — On the subject of money, we may be fined $1 for misrepresenting the RiverCats name in the header of this item and another buck for messing up the moniker in this sentence.
The Sacramento River Cats — the Oakland Athletics’ Triple-A affiliate and Pacific Coast League division rival of the Las Vegas 51s, who open their season Thursday against the Rivercats (that’s $3 and counting) — have announced they’ll fine all members of the media, their sponsors, staff and fans $1 for each incorrect iteration of the name “River Cats,” which is clearly comprised of two words.
Any confusion stems from their team logo, which doesn’t include a clear space between “River” and “Cats,” leading some to write RiverCats (this is getting expensive).
Might as well make it an even $5, river cats. At least the money goes to charity.
■ YANKS PRANKED — The Yankees have won 40 American League pennants, but that’s not the subject of the painting on the cover of the April 8 “New Yorker” magazine entitled “Hitting Forty.”
It refers to the average age of Yankees stars Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Andy Pettitte, Ichiro Suzuki, Mark Teixeira and Mariano Rivera — a group depicted on the cover with casts, crutches, walkers and a wheelchair.
It almost makes this Red Sox fan feel sorry for the Evil Empire. Almost.
COMPILED BY TODD DEWEY
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL