Kevin Garnett is a basketball Confucius, somebody who can describe the process of making tortillas while actually attempting to explain team chemistry. When Garnett speaks about his inner machinery, he is always entertaining, always original and normally spot on. You could make a self-help book using just quotes that Garnett has uttered throughout his career, and it would probably become a best-seller (even if Channing Frye, Joakim Noah, Charlie Villanueva and most other NBA big men probably wouldn’t buy a copy).
Yesterday, Garnett again waxed philosophical, this time about his career and whether thoughts of retirement have begun to creep into his head. He didn’t discuss tortillas or make any other Garnettian metaphors, but Garnett offered a glimpse into his mentality and the gratitude he feels for being a part of Boston’s culture. (Boston Herald)
“You know, I haven’t even put those words in my mouth,” Garnett said of the coach’s swan song sentiment. “I haven’t even thought like that. My thing is this year. Focus on this year. Work till you get better. Improve, improve, improve. I ask Doc, ‘What do I need to work on to continue to make myself better, to continue to keep my mind fresh and continue to be aggressive and just progress?’
“Stagnation is dark. Movement is light. So I like to keep that, and I like to think like that.” …
Garnett seems the least likely of the three to hang on when it might be time to go, but that belief may come just from the fact he squeezes so much out of now.
“I’m a reality person,” Garnett said. “I see and deal with reality every day, and I know that people have lives and we’re human beings. I never take anything for granted, so you’re right.
“We came in and won it (an NBA title) in ’08. I wanted like hell to win in ’09 and ’10 and last year. I’m figuring that anything can happen in life.” …
“No disrespect to my early years in Minnesota — with Sam Mitchell and Terry Porter and Steph (Marbury) and Gugs (Tom Gugliotta) and Malik (Sealy), rest in peace, and Spree (Latrell Sprewell) — I have to say these last five years in Boston have been some of the most cultural and most well-deserving when it comes to players,” he said. “Man, the players I’ve been able to play with have been some of the most professional, if not outstanding talents.
“When you come in this league, you already know you’ve got to have some type of swagger if not confidence, and we’ve been able to put that to the side — the egos, all that — and try to actually achieve a goal every year. Wholeheartedly and honestly. A lot of guys wouldn’t do that. A lot of guys wouldn’t make the sacrifice of their own game and give it up for the next guy. And that’s a tribute to Doc Rivers, along with the guys who are in there.
“So these years have been fruitful years for me, man — years that overshadowed the others. I can recall some of the years, but I’m just so in the present and in the moment that I’m just really, really grateful for the opportunity that I have.”
Hate Garnett all you want. I understand why. He can be a jackass. He elbows foes. Ball taps them. Screams obscenities (or sometimes just nonsense) inches away from their faces. Crawls on all fours. I’m sure I’m missing a lot of other mishaps Garnett’s made over the years too, but you get the point. It’s easy to dislike Garnett, at least when he’s on the court.
But I get the feeling he’s one of the most self-aware superstars the NBA has ever seen. He knew everything that was wrong in Minnesota, but he tried to make it work. Now he’s in Boston, the culture is infinitely better, his teammates are infinitely better, and Garnett just wants to keep progressing, just wants to win another title. He’s thankful for Doc Rivers, thankful for a crop of teammates willing to sacrifice, thankful for the chance to contend alongside talented teammates who — like Garnett — care more about winning than stats. I get the feeling that Garnett sees everything — good and bad — and has a powerful ability to prioritize it all and to put life’s events into perspective far more impressively than the average person.
Which is why I love that he’s becoming a mentor to Rajon Rondo. (ESPN Boston)
Their relationship hasn’t been issue-free, Rondo admitted.
“We go at it a lot,” he said. “I think we have similar personalities. We got into it a lot our first couple years.”
“I got into it with a lot of people my first couple years,” Rondo added, laughing.
Still, as he enters his sixth season with the Celtics and his fifth with Garnett, the 25-year-old Rondo said the two are now closer than ever.
“We’re learning each other,” Rondo said, “and Kevin’s one of my best friends on the team right now. When [Kendrick Perkins] left I think it kind of made us closer. Kevin and I have talked a lot lately. We try to stay on the same page, both working on our attitudes for the better of the team, and me just growing up as a leader. He’s been one of my mentors.
“I’m getting older now. But I’m still young, I think. It’s been a great time, a great journey here being a Celtic … But what we have now, we just gotta continue to get better and try to win a championship.”
Stagnation is dark. Movement is light. I’m telling you, Garnett should write a book.