Danny Ainge may be giving the players some time away from basketball, but we are calling every player on the roster into our Celtics Town offices for their exit interviews for the rest of this week. Here’s the third in the series: Kevin Garnett
Kevin Maurice Garnett,
I hope this is not our last exit interview, as speaking with you is truly a joy. Your way with words is truly unmatched and I would be heartbroken if this was the final time we conversed.
Mr. Garnett, Mr. Plus-minus, I do not need to tell you how that statistic can so beautifully but insufficiently sum you up. Your impact on the court was known by both friend and enemy, and your defensive leadership was the most important thing you brought to this Boston team. The way you quarterbacked the back row of the defense enabled the rest of the Celtics to see pick and rolls long before they occurred, constantly yelling out defensive rotations to sure up Boston’s defense. It’s a shame your body had to begin to give out such that manning much smaller guys on switches became such a task. You deserve another big man to slowly take away some of your minutes and allow you to be fresh during stretches during the playoffs.
Speaking of which, Boston thought we had that in rookie Jared Sullinger. He has the same grit you have, and the relationship you guys began to form warmed even the coldest of hearts. Of course he went down for the season with back problems, but your mentor-ship of the young Celtic big man did not go unnoticed. It would be great if you could stick around for a couple more years– just see your contract out, you know, for the young guys. Although Sullinger showed great progress and has a phenomenal basketball IQ, teaching him the defensive rotations and lamenting his offensive post game would do wonders for the Boston frontcourt. If Jared Sullinger could continue to learn even the smallest amounts from you, it would go great lengths into making sure the Celtics are a playoff team down the no-so-distant road.
Your high post offensive skill set is still one of the best in the league. You were able to bail out the Boston offense when other offensive options were not highly functioning. Doc and the Celtic coaching staff always had the option to dump it down to you and run the offensive through the high post. Your passing skills with your back to the basket were very valuable especially when combined with Avery Bradley’s manic cuts to the front rim. That high release of yours is so sweet, it would be a shame not to run some pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop with Rondo when he returns next year.
You have a really nice thing going here. You have a coach in Doc Rivers who understands you and respects you as a player and person, but always pushes you to higher levels. Speaking of which, that playoff stretch showed just how valuable you still are. It seems like every year people write you off as tired, old, or banged up from the long season. The first couple of games against New York your patented soft touch was not quite working near the rim and you appeared a step slow, only to put on
Mr. Garnett, you still have the skill and talent to be a starting big man for the Celtics. Have a sit-down with Doc, and discuss what your minutes next year could look like. Doc and the coaching staff have been very careful with your minutes all year, starting with a strict 5-5-5 plan, and then unleashing your minutes in the playoffs. If this worked for you would could repeat this concept so you can stay fresh for the minutes you are on the court. This could happen, if you so pleased.
Many have said that your fate, whether it be retirement, staying with Boston, or moving to a different team is tied to that of the longtime Celtic Paul Pierce. I do not blame you for this, you’ve been in the league for 17 years now and playing for a sub par team like you did back in Minnesota is less than appealing at this point in your career. If you and Paul decided to leave, I would understand. You have given the Celtics more than I could imagine, you deserve whatever path you choose and have my unconditional blessing.
But let me ask you this– come back as an assistant coach when your playing days are over? If Doc is still around continue the great relationship you two have and pass down some of your basketball knowledge to the young big men on the C’s. Who knows, maybe Sully will still be around, check up on his progression and see if you can give him some of your high post shiftiness.
I have made it no secret over the last year how big of a basketball crush I have on you. Your defensive intensity and trash talking prompted discussions of why you cannot have your own pay-per-listen radio station filled only with only your in-game expletive-riddled conversations. The passion you have given this Celtics team truly gave them a pulse when others would have called you guys dead, and for that– I thank you. I would understand if the well has run dry and your playing days are over, but please consider staying around Boston in some sort of capacity, the city and this team love you.
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