BOSTON -- Kevin Garnett would take the basketball and disappear. Down the street to a different place in his neighborhood . . . and in his mind.
As Garnett closes in on passing Patrick Ewing for 16th in scoring in NBA history, the big man went back to a time when he cared more about the ball in his hand than in the basket.
"I used to get up early in the morning and just dribble," he said prior to the Boston Celtics game against the Charlotte Bobcats. "As I got older, I continued to keep that skill with me. Dribbling used to do something for my mind for some reason. It was like reading a book. I could get lost in dribbling. Before you knew it, I had gone up three blocks, didn't even know where I was. Some people use drawing or reading a book, I would take my ball and just kind of get lost in the neighborhood, so it was kind of like my therapy, if you will. I just never lost that skill. I inadvertently kept it."
Garnett needs 14 points to pass Ewing's career total of 24,815. He was unaware of the mark, and was not going to alter his game plan to reach it. Scoring was always more of an obligation than a priority.
"When I was young I watched for blocks because I was always taller than a lot of the kids, assists, because I was a huge Magic (Johnson) fan coming up," he said. "I really wasn't into the points because the majority of the people around me wanted to score, put the ball in the basket. I was no different from that, but I always took a liking to trying to do everything, if not want to be good at everything . . . (Scoring) was something I had to do. If you're the biggest kid out there, at some point everybody expects you to score the ball. I had to get off all the passing the ball, stealing the ball."
Garnett has averaged 19.2 points, 10.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.5 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game over his 18-year career. His role has changed since his days as a non-stop dribbler, but he can still hold his own. How would he compare to Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo?
"Rajon is a point guard. I'm above average size," Garnett noted. "Obviously he has splendid ball handling, but he's not 6-11. He's more like 5-11-ish."
Garnett will shape his game to fit the needs of the Celtics, whether the team leans on him for scoring, rebounding, or a combination of his versatile skills. If it were up to Garnett, he would post a stat line that encompasses everything he loves about the game.
"(My) ideal game would be 30 points, 30 rebounds, 15 blocks, and 10 assists with a Celtics blowout," he said. "That's an ideal game."