The Celtics practiced yesterday, and Kevin Garnett did not want to be subbed out. According to Delonte West, Garnett was (literally) dragged off the floor.
I can see it now: Garnett screaming like a maniac, crawling on all fours and clapping his hands while Lawrence Frank (five foot nothing, a hundred nothing) grabs his ear and leads him off the court. In other words, I picture the scene as exactly what Veronica Vaughn did to Billy Madison after he said, “Kid can’t even read.” (Boston Herald)
“We’re normally the instigators, but we’ve been getting kind of a dose of our own medicine in the last few games,” guard Delonte West said.
“It was serious intensity in here today. It was almost playoff intensity in practice. For a little bit, he was trying to give KG (Kevin Garnett) some rest, and he wanted to be on the floor. Around this time of the year, normally veteran guys — you know, All-Star veteran guys — they’ll take all the rest they can get. So that made a big statement, him not even wanting to come off the floor. I mean, they had to literally drag him off the floor. That made a statement on where the intensity was today.
“It was more of, all right, the lights are down. With so many games happening so fast, things happen in the course of games, and you can’t really touch on them because you’re trying to get ready for the next one. But today was a gut check for everyone. We got to look each other in the eyes and see what we’re going to do here, what we’re going to do for these last couple of games.
“It starts with each individual. It’s time to buckle down and say, ‘Not my guy. Not tonight.’ That’s the motto of Celtics basketball, and I think we’ve gotten away from that.”
Stories like these are terrific—Kevin Garnett could lead an army of pacifists into war. But intensity on the practice court only goes so far. At some point, the Celtics need to step up and start winning games. Losing to the Grizzlies, at home, when Rudy Gay isn’t playing, during an Eastern Conference seedings race which could mean playoff life or death, shouldn’t happen. Losing to the Rockets, by 16 points, while letting Kyle Lowry look like the next Isiah Thomas (the player, not the GM), shouldn’t happen. Losing to the New Jersey Nets, under any circumstances, should not happen.
Practicing hard is a good start. But bringing that same intensity to the floor, every night, is what’s going to win the top seed and home-court advantage.