Just watch that video and see how much Kevin Garnett cares. Watch the whole thing. Look at the passion on his face, in every syllable he speaks. See Garnett, before last season, at 5:30 in the morning, running on the beach. Hear him telling us, “I know what it’s like to be in that position, to chase something. I know what it’s like to want to take something from somebody else.
“Ya know, I used to look at Duncan, I used to look at Kobe and Shaq. I used to be like, ya know, they’ve got something I want. So now I’m in that position, and ain’t no way I’m fixing to either go backwards or back off what I’ve been doing up to this point. You know what I mean?”
We know what Kev means. We know how much he cares. More than anyone else in the NBA, probably. Care is etched on his face, care is what he does. He seems like the type of person who would beat himself up for hours if he forgot to pick up a gallon of milk at the grocery store, never mind when he gets humiliated on national television, in the NBA Finals, by one of his most hated rivals. Twice. We know it’s eating Kev alive. We do.
But we need more out of him. We need him to stand up to Pau Gasol, to hold his own. We know Kev isn’t the same, but — the thing is — we don’t need him to be. We just need him to act like he deserves to be on the same court as that damn Spaniard. Grab some rebounds, hit a couple jumpers. Keep throwing dimes. Hold his own.
We know his weak first couple games weren’t from a lack of effort. Hell, Doc Rivers even said it might have been that he got too caught up in the Finals: “I thought he tried to talk himself down,” Rivers said, “and he did too good of a job of it. He needs to play with that edge, and I really thought early on he was going too fast and trying to slow himself down he probably did it a little bit too much.”
That unrelenting passion (“going too fast and trying to slow himself down”) is why I love Kevin Garnett. It’s why I was always a big fan, even when he was in Minnesota. It’s why he quickly became one of my favorite players, even before he was a Celtic. He cares. There’s no better word for it. Kevin Garnett doesn’t want to win, he desperately needs to win. And when he doesn’t win, or he doesn’t play well, it hurts him. Very, very deeply. That’s why I can’t be mad at him, even when he struggles so harshly: I know he’s giving it every ounce of determination he can muster.
But at this point passion and determination aren’t the only things that matter. With my sincerest apologies to Kevin Garnett, well… the Celtics and us fans, we need results. Right now, from Kevin Garnett, we’re not getting any. Sure the Celtics beat LA in Game 2, but it was in spite of Kev and not because of him.
Look, if Garnett keeps playing like a drunken sheep the Celtics can still win this series. They proved in Game 2 that they can win even when both Garnett and Pierce have monumental struggles. But let’s just say the C’s chances of winning the series are a whole lot better if Garnett stops doing that whole Mikki Moore impersonation he’s pulling off so well.
“My mindset is to continue, to continue, to continue; to keep going, to keep going; to push, to push,” Garnett said in the above video. “Push yourself to a limit, to where you damn near fall out, and then they’ll revive you and you start back over.”
Garnett’s pushed himself to the limit and he’s damn near fallen out. The Celtics can only hope the revival’s next.
If not, they might be the ones in an unenviable position next year:
They might again be chasing something that isn’t theirs.