NBA fines Ainge $25K for actions

NEW YORK -- Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was fined $25,000 by the NBA on Thursday for tossing a towel to try to distract Cavaliers forward J.J. Hickson as he shot a free throw.

Ainge flipped a white towel over his head during the third quarter of Monday night's playoff game between Boston and Cleveland. Ainge was attempting to rattle Hickson, who made his second free throw despite the distraction.

Stu Jackson, the league's executive vice president of basketball operations, fined Ainge for "an unauthorized distraction and for conduct detrimental to the game."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers said after the team's practice in Waltham, Mass., on Thursday that he was surprised Ainge was fined.

"That's a lot of towels. Those are some Grade A towels that Danny bought, for sure," he said with a laugh. "What's the difference between that and mascots, [who] do it all the time. I was wondering if Danny had borrowed [Celtics mascot] Lucky's outfit. He could try that."

While the NBA found Ainge's actions inappropriate, LeBron James didn't think he did anything wrong.

"I think it's cool," the league's two-time MVP said after practice. "A GM or an owner like Mark Cuban and you see MJ [Michael Jordan], those guys it's their team, they put the team together and they can have as much fun as they want to. I think it's cool. I mean, why not? I'm not opposed to it."

The Celtics were leading 80-57 at the time of Ainge's towel toss. Boston went on to win 104-86 to even the Eastern Conference semifinal at 1-1.

On Wednesday, Ainge said he regretted his behavior, calling it "unprofessional."

"I was having fun with the hecklers and the crowd that was sitting around me," Ainge said during an interview on Boston sports radio station WEEI.

"There's just no excuse. It was unprofessional. I regret doing it. The biggest reason I regret it is you guys should be talking about the great play of the Celtics and not talking about a towel incident. I'm shocked that it's become this big a deal."

Ainge said he was simply caught up in the moment and was not trying to stir up any animosity.

"The competitiveness in me gets the best of me," Ainge said on WEEI. "That's no excuse, it was unprofessional. Hopefully we can move on past this and focus on the players and the real issues at hand."

Ainge also said Wednesday he was expecting to get fined.

"Usually when things become public like this you do hear from the league," Ainge said. "I don't think David Stern cares about a towel that was thrown, but because it's become such a public story I'm sure there will be something. I'd like to give my charitable contributions to those of my own choice, but I am confident the league does well with our money."

Material from The Associated Press and ESPNBoston.com's Chris Forsberg was used in this report.