No one was injured, there wasn’t a crash, and the blood alcohol tests aren’t all in yet. But the early facts are bad and suggest Al Jefferson, the centerpiece of the Kevin Garnett trade, was driving drunk. Per ESPNBoston:
Lt. Eric Roeske told multiple media outlets Jefferson was pulled over after being clocked at driving 56 miles per hour in a 40 mph zone. The arresting trooper also saw Jefferson change lanes without signaling and his car drifted to the left, with his tires crossing the outer line.
Roeske said Jefferson was given field sobriety tests, which led to his arrest. A blood test was given and Roeske said the results are pending a Bureau of Criminal Apprehension analysis.
Roeske told KARE, a TV station in the Minneapolis-St. Paul market, that he can’t report Jefferson’s blood alcohol level, but it was above the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
What can you say?
You can’t drive drunk—or impaired, or intoxicated, or whatever the proper term is in Minnesota—and Al Jefferson is charged with doing that.
Over the past few months as the C’s have struggled, there has been a lot of talk about how this is the deal the Celtics made, and that the deal has turned out successfully. In other words, the C’s mortgaged the future (and, in some eyes, the 2010 present) to put together an aging team with a brief title window. And they won that title, so whatever happens now and going forward must be deemed “worth it”.
But when you consider the move to get KG, you also have to consider what the C’s gave up. And they essentially gave up Al Jefferson. And Big Al, much as we feel affection for him as we do for many ex-C’s, is having a not-so-great time recovering from knee surgery this season. His plus/minus (adjusted and raw) is awful, some pretty smart T’Wolves observers are ripping his defense and calling for Kurt Rambis to play Kevin Love more, and now we have this.
Jefferson is just 25, so his career is still in its early stages. And there was no either/or situation with Jefferson and KG; you’re constructing a false choice if you talk about 2007 as if the only alternatives the Celtics had were to keep Jefferson and stick with the status quo or deal him for an older guy like KG. The NBA salary cap presents almost infinite alternatives for creative GMs.
But even with KG struggling to get back to form and the C’s playing below-.500 ball since Christmas, the Big Trade almost looks better now than it did in the summer of ’07.
This is not a knock on Al Jefferson, and I’m not trying to say his alleged DWI should factor into the evaluation of a basketball trade the same way an injury does.
I used to write about criminal justice for a living, so I’m very, very familiar with how serious DWIs are. It’s a bigger deal than basketball, obviously, and we can only be happy that no one was injured. Whatever Al did or didn’t do remains to be seen, but if he is guilty of what he’s been charged with, let’s breathe a sigh of relief that no one was hurt and hope that Al never makes the mistake again.
Update: The T’Wolves have suspended Big Al for 2 games, and Jefferson issued the following statement:
“I want to apologize to the entire Timberwolves organization, owner Glen Taylor, my teammates, coaches and Wolves fans everywhere for my actions last night,” Jefferson said in a statement released Sunday by the Timberwolves. “I made a very poor decision and I am truly sorry for that. As a leader on this team, I know that more is expected of me, and I am disappointed in myself.”