By J. M. Poulard
Kevin Garnett is one of the best power forwards the league has ever seen. His combination of footwork, post moves, athleticism, finishing ability, exquisite passing and terrific jump shot make him a seemingly impossible to guard NBA player. We constantly see him take every tool in his shed and use them essentially to make himself a dominant offensive force much like he did in 2004 (although with less touches in the last few years) when he earned the league’s highest individual regular season award: the Maurice Podoloff trophy. And yet, that’s only half the story.
The Big Ticket’s freakishly long arms, quick feet, length, off the charts basketball IQ, no prisoner attitude and unmatched intensity make him a premier defensive player. There used to be a time when being a two way player was almost expected, whereas nowadays, players that excel at offense and defense are extremely rare gems. Have a look at the list:
- Al Horford
- Chris Paul
- Dwight Howard
- Kevin Garnett
- Kobe Bryant
- LeBron James
- Tim Duncan
And yet, Garnett typically makes headlines because he drops MF bombs on live national television, goaltends shots after the whistle (someone needs to take the ball and go up to dunk on him, I bet that would get his attention), barks at opponents (or himself, one can never truly tell), sets hard screens and has twice played Rocky Balboa with the family jewels of NBA players (or as I like to call it, hitting people where Ball Don’t Lie). And trust me, I think hitting a man below the belt is totally uncalled for (unless your best friend impregnated your wife, then you have carte blanche) and thus has no place in society, let alone the basketball court. But if Kevin Garnett played on your team, would all of these things matter? Of course they would; but not negatively.
People forget that the Celtics were once a doormat for most elite NBA teams and that prior to 2007, they were barely relevant outside of Massachusetts. But once Garnett joined the team, the team became just that: a team. The Ticket bought suits for the rookies, made guys cheer for one another, rushed to pick up a fallen teammate, pushed around an opponent that tried to intimidate one of his players and more importantly, helped create a winning environment. If you are a fan of the NFL, there is a Ray Lewis sound byte that NFL Network loves to use: “If I asked you to give it all up for me right now…”. The rest doesn’t even matter. Ask any Celtic to answer that question about Garnett, and I’m quite sure they would all be say yes without a doubt.
We have always praised the Big Ticket’s passion as a basketball player because he has always been one of the few players to give the fans their just due in every game he’s played in. Whether it’s a back to back in Sacramento or Game 1 of the NBA Finals, KG is coming out swinging. Therefore, if we are going to praise his intensity, his seemingly odd rituals of banging his head against the basket support and his unwillingness to let players score after referees call for a stoppage in play, well we might as well deal with the fact that sometimes he might go a little overboard.
Does he deserve to be disciplined? That’s for the league to figure out. But at the end of the day, does his seemingly maniacal behavior on the court help his team win? You can bet your bottom dollar it does. People can call him a fake tough guy all they want, but two NBA Finals appearances and one title later, his championship ring isn’t fugazzi and neither is his play. And really at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.