Resume: 15.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.0 block, 31.1 minutes, 50% FG, and 86% FT… Team record in games played: 37-23 (2-4 without)… Playoffs: 19.2 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, % FG, 81% FT, 11-9 record… 2nd Team All-Defense
I don’t know if I am different than most people in this aspect, but when I measure the value and worth of an NBA player I try my best to avoid the typical ways of doing so. I don’t like to always rely heavily on statistics or what everyone can blatantly see. I like to toss unique ideas around in my head, let those ideas marinate, and explore different scenarios when it comes to figuring out the NBA. When the USA basketball roster pool was being depleted with the losses of Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin and Chris Bosh, I wondered whether Team USA should make a run at getting Kevin Garnett to head to London for a few weeks and really only have to worry about playing in the Gold Medal game against Spain. Why did I wonder this? Well, because in a one game, do-or-die, everything on the line, for all the marbles, insert another cliché about how important a game could be scenario, I’d feel really comfortable as an American with Kevin Garnett going to war for a Gold Medal. More comfortable than I did with any of the big men on the USA roster (Anthony Davis, Tyson Chandler, and even Kevin Love).
That’s a hell of a statement to make about a 36 year old with over 50,000 minutes on his NBA odometer. Just like the rest of the Celtics, it seems like year after year people write off Kevin Garnett. Father time is undefeated, and he has to catch KG eventually. It’s amazing that an entire era of superstars from a decade or so ago (Garnett, Kobe, Duncan, Pierce, Nash, Dirk, etc.) are all still playing at such an incredibly high level. Three of those players are still to come on the list. But Garnett seems the most impressive. He spent years toiling away in Minnesota, dragging exceeding crappy supporting casts to the playoffs. After 12 years he finally had his chance to play for a legitimate contender. The Celtics won the title in 2008 and it seemed reasonable that a few more would follow. Not even a year later Garnett suffered a right knee sprain and it seemed like he finally might be breaking down.
Two things happened this year that show me Kevin Garnett is still a Top 20 player in the NBA. One came in the regular season. What should’ve been a meaningless regular season game against the Magic turned into the defining moment of the regular season for Boston, and the precedent in which I still remain utterly frightened of Boston as a LeBron James fan. Boston came back from a 21 point half time deficit, outscoring Orlando 54-25 in the 2nd half, to win 91-83. After the game Garnett talked to… yelled at… verbally assaulted… Craig Sager, and set the tone for the rest of the Celtics season.
Boston entered the playoffs as the fourth seed and I bought them as a conference finalist even before Derrick Rose went down with a torn ACL. What sparked the Celtics? A few typical Paul Pierce games, a brilliant postseason from Rajon Rondo, and the resurgence of the Kevin Garnett of old. You could see that Garnett’s postseason numbers were far more impressive than his regular season numbers. Nine 20-10 games, twelve double-doubles and a whole bunch of trash talk and confidence that helped give Boston a mental edge over everyone for 18 games until LeBron James turned into Keyser Soze. There was nothing KG could’ve done about that. There was nothing that the city of Boston could’ve done about that.
How much longer does Garnett have at an elite level? I don’t know. Eventually, father time is going to gain the upper hand and Garnett won’t be able to bring his best in the biggest moments. I know one thing for sure though; I’m not going to be the first one to write off the Celtics and Garnett. Not happening.