[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="440" caption="More aggressive. More impressive."][/caption]
"Mother F***er." - KG
It's his favorite quote, but right now KG is playing good m-f'ing basketball and with that has his Celts up 3-2 on Miami. I haven't been one to root for KG in quite a long while. As any teenage boy in Minnesota in the late 90's to early 00's I loved Garnett with the Wolves. As I matured, and KG did as well, I started to lose respect for The Franchise. Whether it was his disappearing acts in the clutch, the control he was either given (not then his fault) or demanded (then it'd be his fault) of the team's front office moves, or because he punched Rick Rickert in the face (nah, that actually made me like him more). One way or another, KG fell out of favor with me and the trade to Boston and subsequent ripping of Minnesota by KG after he left, only emboldened my growing grudge against Da Kid.
Now that he is going up against Lebron, and playing like his pants are on fire, my grudge is weakening and I am starting to respect KG again.
There has never been any denying that Garnett is a great player. KG always looks like a guy hell-bent on doing anything it takes to win. The issue for me and many others has been that the "look" of KG and the show that he puts on each game of being so intense his eyeballs are about to pop out of his head, was just that, a show. When the big bucket needed to be made, the aggressive drive needed to be finished with a dunk, or an aggressive move to the basket was needed and not a fade away jumper, KG all of a sudden turned into that guy that likes to talk shit to a big dude at the bar and act tough until the big guy actually turns around and says, "Let's go." Then "that guy" and his vodka Red Bull are hard to find in the bar, because they exited stage left a bit too scared to finish what they started. KG exited stage left in too many games and situations for me to respect him and although he did a great job starting, he'd never be the one that wanted to throw the knock out punch.
This playoffs seems different. Whether it's KG getting motivation from, "Owners that talk too much," as he said last night staring at the camera with that "eyeballs almost popping out look" after being asked what motivates him. Or he is just realizing that maybe his last legitimate chance at another ring could be this year. Whatever it is, KG is playing like the guy I wished he had played like his entire career. In Boston's win last night, Garnett didn't shy away from big shots, made big free throws and was an absolute force all game. The last three Boston wins, Garnett is averaging 22 points, 12 rebounds and 2.6 blocks at age 36. Just think if he would have played with this type of intensity and will to win in the 4th quarter prior to his knees starting to fail him.
He deserves my respect.
If Boston gets by Miami by winning one of the next two, then KG will have to prove it to me again. This time there will be a better PF/C across from him. As much as I respect his performances so far in this playoff, you have to take into account who he has been going against. The Atlanta series gave him a challenge with Josh Smith and Al Horford, and he performed admirably with 18 points and 10 boards in that series. Yet, in this series and the last series against the 76ers KG has been going up against the likes of Spencer Hawes, Elton Brand (old version), Lavoy Allen, Joel Anthony, Udonis Haslem and - for 14 minutes and 23 seconds last night - a less than 100% Chris Bosh. Safe to say that either Duncan or Ibaka/Perkins will pose a bit tougher fight for KG. That is where KG will fully earn my respect back, if he stands up to a fight from the big bullies at the bar that turn and can actually pose a threat to him.
Before we get there though, hopefully KG just destroys the Heat again one more time on Thursday because: A) I, along with all true Americans, hate the Heat B) I feel like a teenager again rooting for him and want that to continue C) feeling like a teenager is getting tough, especially after celebrating my 28th b'day last weekend.