I’ve heard it a million times:Kevin Garnett will come back stronger next season. “Didn’t you read Jackie MacMullan’s piece?” people ask me. “People with Garnett’s injury take an entire year to get back to full strength.”
The latest to chime in on the subject was The Truth. “I think he’s going to be better, stronger,” Pierce told the Boston Globe. “You saw at the end of the year, how Kevin played and how he moved, that he got better.”
Okay. I understand the reasoning. People with Garnett’s injury take an entire year to get back to full strength. I get it. I’ve heard it a million and one times now. But it still doesn’t answer the question in the headline: Will KG come back stronger next year?
Because his injury is only a part of the equation. His injury will be better next year, say the doctors. And I believe them. I’m sure the effects of the injury will be gone, or at least damn near gone. But what about everything else? The millions of miles on his legs? The 41,695 regular season minutes he’s played, accumulated over a span of 1,124 regular season games? It takes a full year for someone with Kevin Garnett’s injury to return to full speed. But there are other factors that could continue a slow and steady deterioration.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to take a pee on your parade. I’m not trying to take your hopes for next season and crush them in one swift blog post. I’m just keeps-in’ it real.
Players with 40,000 minutes under their belt simply don’t continue to produce at the same levels. It’s this crazy thing they call wear and tear, or age. And all those minutes I told you about? Not a single one of them have been half-assed. Garnett plays basketball with a ferocity most humans couldn’t possibly obtain, and it’s incredibly admirable. But you have to wonder whether it will be a detriment as he continues his career. You have to wonder whether KG’s attitude – that coach’s-dream, hell-bent need to play 100% at all times – has only accelerated the aging process. After playing all those ferocious minutes, is there anything left in KG’s tank?
Maybe there actually is. Garnett works as hard as anyone in the business. He takes runs on the beach before dawn. He doesn’t take days off, even in the offseason. That same mentality that has made all his minutes so tough is the very thing that has kept Garnett so close to the top of the NBA food chain for a decade and a half. It’s also the same mentality that keeps him in great shape, the same mentality that likely made him rehab like a fiend. If Garnett fails to come back stronger next year there is no chance it will be due to lack of effort.
Need another ray of hope? Look no further than Garnett’s game. He’s a seven-footer with a reliable jumper out to 20 feet. He’s smart. He’s unselfish. He’s versatile. A game like that should age with some serious grace.
Plus, you know, people with Garnett’s injury take an entire year to get back to full strength.
That’s a million and two times now. I can only hope each and every one of them proves true.