Celtics' Pierce denies gesture was gang-related

BOSTON -- Celtics forward Paul Pierce, fined $25,000 for what the NBA called a "menacing gesture" during Game 3 of Boston's playoff series against Atlanta, denied that the sign was gang-related.

"I 100 percent do not in any way promote gang violence or anything close to it," Pierce said in a statement issued Wednesday before Game 5 of the series. "I am sorry if it was misinterpreted that way at Saturday's game."

The league fined Pierce for flashing a hand gesture toward Atlanta's Al Horford, holding up his right hand, forming an "O" with his thumb and index finger and extending the other three fingers. Although the gesture has been interpreted as a gang sign, Celtics basketball boss Danny Ainge said the three fingers represented "blood, sweat and tears."

Pierce does it before every game, Ainge said, adding that the fine would be appealed after the season.

Pierce said he didn't want to take any focus away from the playoffs, and added that his foundation is committed to helping urban youth stay away from gangs.

"I am extremely proud of the work I have done through the foundation to provide positive influences and safe havens for inner city kids," he said.