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The Sixth Man: Maturity issues shaping NBA playoffs

Take your pick. Whether it's Rajon Rondo bumping an official in Atlanta, Amar'e Stoudemire losing his fight with a fire extinguisher in Miami or Chicago native Evan Turner turning his home city and coach against him with his mouth, these NBA playoffs are being shaped by some serious maturity issues.

Boston Celtics basketball chief Danny Ainge has flirted with trading Rondo on more than one occasion in the past. That fact is certainly not tied to the Kentucky product's ability as a basketball player; Boston remains concerned with perceived anger management issues.

One incident in particular highlighted Ainge's problem with Rondo's temper. According to multiple media reports at the time, Rondo threw a bottle that shattered a video screen following Game 2 of the Celtics' 2011 playoff series with the Miami Heat.

Boston coach Doc Rivers was pointing out a few of Rondo's errors in the game when the point guard balked and began calling out the miscues of his teammates. Rivers responded by scolding Rondo, who blew up and fled from the practice facility.

That was also Rondo's rep with the Wildcats in college, where he often lashed out at coaches and teammates.

On the floor, Rondo has been as good as ever this season, becoming the game's best pure playmaker, a true quarterback who was the first Celtic to lead the NBA in assists since Bob Cousy turned the trick in 1960.

"He's the true definition of a point guard," former Boston center Shaquille O'Neal said of Rondo. "He gets everyone involved and makes everyone better."

That's true but only when he is actually on the court. Rondo, of course, will be on the sidelines Tuesday for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals in Atlanta.

The speedy point guard was ejected late in the Celtics' 83-74 Game 1 loss to the Hawks for making contact with referee Marc Davis and was suspended for one game by the NBA on Monday. Rondo, who was tossed with 41 seconds remaining for chest bumping Davis following a foul call on Brandon Bass, finished with 20 points and 11 assists.

"As I was walking, I thought he stopped. My momentum carried me into him," Rondo said of the chest bump. "I even think I tripped on his foot. I didn't intentionally chest bump him, but that's what it appears to be."

The league obviously did not accept that explanation and whether intentional or not, touching a game official isn't tolerated by the NBA. Doing it with 41 seconds remaining is just ignorant and Boston will be squarely behind the 8- ball, aiming to avoid a 2-0 deficit without arguably its best player.

"I can't allow that," NBA commissioner David Stern said in Indiana on Monday when talking about Rondo's suspension. "If we don't protect our officials in this fast-paced game with very large players, we've lost a lot in my mind."

Down in Miami, Stoudemire slammed his fist into a glass fire extinguisher case out of frustration as he walked down the hall to the locker room after the Knicks' Game 2 loss to the Heat.

The big man, who is already dealing with a balky back, ended up needing stitches to stop the bleeding on his hand and will now likely miss Game 3 on Thursday and could be shelved for the rest of what is looking like a very short series.

"We just know right now that he has a laceration and he's probably going to be out," New York center Tyson Chandler told Newsday. "It's tough, obviously. Amar'e is a huge part of this team. Without him, it's going to make it more difficult. We already lost one player (Iman Shumpert). That's two players out of the starting lineup. It makes it tougher."

Stoudemire apologized for his actions on Twitter, but that didn't stop the notoriously tough New York media from taking aim at his incredibly selfish act. The New York Post went with the headline "Bloody Idiot" and more than one scribe has thrown around the expletive "Glass#*%@" to describe Stat.

"As a teammate, you go, 'This is going to be one of the dumb things that I'm going to talk about later that somebody did on my team -- they punched a piece of glass,'" TNT analyst Kenny Smith said.

With Stoudemire, the Knicks were already up against it against the star- studded Heat and their margin for error, already paper thin, is now nonexistent.

"Why didn't he hit the thing (fire extinguisher) when they lost by (33) the other day?" Smith's partner, Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, said. "They only lost by 10 tonight. Seems like he would've hit the thing the other day. It was a really stupid thing to do, but they were not going to beat the Miami Heat either way."

As for Turner, his sin was giving a vastly superior team bulletin board material.

The No. 2 overall pick out of Ohio State in 2010, Turner hasn't lived up to expectations with the Philadelphia 76ers largely due to the fact that coach Doug Collins doesn't trust a player he considers painfully immature.

Turner illustrated and amplified Collins' perceptions of him by popping off and saying the sinking Sixers would rather face the top-seeded Chicago Bulls than LeBron James and the Heat.

"What I said was looking back at the past two years matching up against teams, we had a tougher time against the Heat," Turner said. "That's all I said. If I had to choose, we match up better against the Bulls."

That might be true, but it's probably the difference between getting run over by an SUV as opposed to a Mack Truck, and certainly not something you should be saying when you are a role player on an eight-seed which barely snuck into the postseason after a second-half collapse.

Turner's behavior also explains why Collins, despite having few bullets at his disposal on both ends of the floor, gives the pedestrian Jodie Meeks a longer rope at the expense of the much more talented ET.