Tuesday, 23 August 2011
CAN'T TELL ME NOTHING
A few more years aren't going to stop Kevin Garnett.
By Tim David Harvey
"Excuse me? Was you saying something?/Uh uh, you can't tell me nothing"-KANYE WEST: CAN'T TELL ME NOTHING.
What's happened over the last few years? What happened to the next chapter in the storied Celtic franchises dynasty? A few years removed from the first championship of the new millennium came their sophomore slump and in some peoples argument this years saw the latest end to the storied Lakers/Celtics reign thanks to Miami and Dallas. Is this a glitch in the matrix? Or are the Celtics simply not the team they were a few seasons before? Has too much been read into this Boston team? Or was last year just a hiatus from the top? Are these guys too old? Has the baton of Eastern Conference dominance now been handed to a new big-three in Miami? Or is this fab four about to be famous for the dynasty they tried to make?
The primary reason the Celtics ‘only’ made it to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals the year following their championship win was due to the loss to injury of Kevin Garnett. Kevin was more than just a catalyst of these new Celtics when he was bought over in 2007. Kevin was the big ticket that booked Boston’s place in the NBA Finals. Without ‘Da Kid’ the Celtics more than likely wouldn’t have even made it to the NBA Finals, let alone win. Lets face it not many people were excited about the Celtics until KG was bought in. When Ray Allen was traded for, the idea of him playing alongside Paul Pierce wasn’t screamed from every Boston rooftop. Once Kevin signed on however the rest was NBA Finals history as New England scored and remained hoarse.
So for the Celtics to even think about contending for another championship again next season they need Garnett healthy and ready to go. That being said ever since injuring his knee, for the first time in his career Kevin’s name was surrounded with doubt and questions. To go along with his diminishing age (35) and numbers (still big) critics are already trying to call time on his career or at least his prime. More questions are being raised like the expectation of his jersey to the rafters. Can he come back? Is he done?
Still it's the reason that Garnett's number 5 will be retired here that means that this ceremony in Boston will be awhile off yet. Kevin is a die-hard, retire later, passionate, big-time player. He's far from done. A blown knee or later years aren't about to change that. Everyone who doubts ‘Da Kid’ has reason for concern but they seem to forget that the guy their doubting is Kevin Garnett. One of the greatest of all time. The best forward in the league today not called Tim Duncan. The franchise player, the difference maker, the man. He screams when others shout, he bleeds when others sweat, he gives more when everyone else gives in.
Injuries are injuries however and age is age the name of every player that has suffered from a knee injury now comes with questions and doubt. Guys like Greg Oden, Jason Kidd and Tracy McGrady. These guys may be some of the best players in the league right now but they all have a high-profile injury history. Who would blame anyone if they hesitated to build a team round any of these players? A knee injury is one of the worst injuries an athlete can suffer no matter the severity of the condition. Rehabilitation takes a long time and it’s easy for a player’s condition to relapse and for the injury to flare up again. That’s just the lucky players; a lot of guys never come back from an injury this bad. Most players can kiss goodbye to their hops, form and maybe even their contracts.
So it really is little wonder that people doubt whether KG is or ever will be the player he used to be before the injury and now with his seasoned years? With that being said however it can’t be denied that at full fitness and health there really is nobody like Kevin. Its easily forgot that KG can play all five positions. Clone this dude five times and you can put the Lakers and Cleveland debate to rest. This guy is still as crazy as when he entered the league as a skinny kid with a high top fade back in ’95. Look at how he dominated Pau Gasol in the finals. Look at the All-Star selections. Look at the post-moves, the shot selection, the dunks and the blocks. He does it all at the highest level. He’s still slight but muscular, so strengths no problem. He’s been a mismatch problem his whole career. He pioneered the big small forward position which guys like Lamar Odom and Anthony Randolph are now using to their benefit and their teams advantage.
Injuries whether chronic or career threatening can never really be generalised. The outcome of a player recovering from injury is really judged on a case by case basis. For every Jason Kidd there’s a Penny Hardaway. Sometimes if a player is determined enough and works hard they can overcome their injury and return to form. Kevin’s never say die attitude and amazing work ethic puts him in the company of people like Grant Hill as opposed to guys like Derrick Coleman. The unfortunate thing that with serious injury comes the annoying labelling of doom and gloom. Kevin Garnett is the type of guy that would rather go find his own luck then be a fatalist. He has rebounded from his injury as well as he does in that statistical category, and he still scores big, even if critics and former fans are trying to box him out.
So Kevin’s not about to give up this easily on his health, years or his team. So why are people giving up on him? Critics may not be out for the big tickets number however Kevin does seem to be getting quietly dismissed. Why should he? Garnett is easily in the top ten players in the NBA and his franchise is still top five. He is one of the most effective players in the L. With career averages of 19.5 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.6 blocks per game K.G. is as versatile as they come. The numbers don’t lie even if the injury lists shed doubt. The one thing about Kevin that can never be measured statistically is his invaluable heart and passion. His competitive but fair nature. His desire to win but his respect for the game. The consummate professional but the unyielding warrior.
It was heart breaking for Boston fans to have seen Kevin in a suit at the end of Boston’s bench during their most critical run in the late season and playoffs of 2009. He looked as disappointed as a veteran who still had some game left in him but was placed on the injured reserve list. KG clearly looked upset, he was behind his Celtic team but he wanted to be leading them. His Celtic team weren’t at their full potential then, but when they are these days they're almost impossible to beat, just ask…well anybody. Years later after overcoming all of this do you really think he's in the mood to give up? This is the same man who fought back tears after being interviewed about losing in the Minnesota years. He is a winner, he won't give up. He can't give up.
Garnett doesn’t belong on the sidelines suited and booted; he belongs on the court in uniform and sneakers. He belongs in the game yelling, pumping his fists, tugging his jersey, headbutting the bottom of the basket and hitting his chest, head or anything that helps psyche him and amp his team up. Garnett’s team needs him yelling on the scoreboards video at the start of the player introductions because he sets the tone. Its Kevin’s aforementioned heart and passion that denies this competitive fire from being doused. It’s this heart and passion that has kept him working all these years when there was no light at the end of the tunnel.
It’s the same heart and passion that helped him get through all those years of losses in Minnesota. The same soul that helped him overcome the Stephon Marbury trade or the utterly tragic death of his idol, and one of the most underrated talents in the NBA, the late, great Malik Sealy. If you watch the DVD 'KG', you can see just how much this still hurts him and how much he carries Sealy's name with everything he does. A true man, team-mate and friend himself Garnett is all heart. 'Aint that right Sam? Mitchell or Cassell you can ask them all. It’s the same heart and passion that will help him keep the Celtics and his window open in what some see as the Winter of their reign. When others sleep Kevin will be on the beach, meditating and working out from dusk till dawn and until the gym opens for him to be the first to enter and last to leave. Now that's amazing, now that's dedication. Next year, once again he will come back stronger and more focused then ever.
Do not count out the Boston Celtics next year and definitely do not count out Kevin Garnett. Throughout KG’s career his passion, dedication and work-ethic have made him the type of player that the saying ‘Blood, sweat and tears’ literally applies to. Just remember the emotion when Michelle Tafoya interviewed Kevin after he won his first championship. The words he struggled to get out through tears and the joy shown in the pumps of his fists. That night Kevin had finally achieved something that had eluded him for so frustratingly long. It was clear to see it was everything he dreamed it would be, but it was also evident that he wasn’t done. Not yet anyway.
"Anything is possible...ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE"-KEVIN GARNETT NBA Finals 2008