Big Ticket a big influence on fellow NBA players

Big Ticket a big influence on fellow NBA players
July 12, 2013, 2:00 pm
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BOSTON — In acquiring Kevin Garnett, the Brooklyn Nets will gain more than just one of the league's best post defenders and a sure-fire future Hall of Famer.

As much as Garnett is credited for his ability to change games, he's even more respected in NBA circles for his ability to change a franchise's culture.

Brooklyn envisions itself competing for an NBA title in the next couple of years, and the addition of Garnett speaks to this now-or-never mentality by the organization.

In acquiring Garnett along with Paul Pierce and Jason Terry, the Nets ship out several players in addition to three, future first-round picks (2014, 2016 and 2018).

The Boston Celtics know all too well about Garnett's value after his arrival in the fall of 2007 changed the fortunes of the Celtics in ways that are still being felt today.

"Kevin has taught me so much, not only as an NBA player but also as a person in this league, how to carry yourself, things like that," Celtics forward Jeff Green told "You miss him as a teammate, but feel good about having played with him and learned so much from him."

The influence of Garnett can be felt beyond those who have had an opportunity to play with him as well.

During February's All-Star game in Houston, a number of the league's better big men spoke glowingly not only about Garnett the player, but also the impact he has made on them and the league as a whole.

"Everyone in this league respects KG so much," said Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant. "His fire and passion for the game. And his skill."

That latter point is at the core of Brooklyn's decision to send three future first-round picks (2014, 2016 and 2018) along with several players to Boston for Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry.

By adding Garnett, the Nets acquire a player who transcended the game in way that may never been seen again.

He is the rare five-tool NBA talent who can score, rebound, defend, pass and make his teammates better at a high level.

"Kevin ... he's the best, he really is," said former Celtics coach Doc Rivers who is now Vice President of basketball operations and head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers.

One of Rivers' newest players, Blake Griffin, is among the new generation of NBA big men who have long admired Garnett's play.

 "He's been unbelievable for a long, long time," Griffin said of Garnett. "At the power forward position, there haven't been many like him who have accomplished what he's accomplished. He's definitely left his mark, with his intensity. Everybody knows his skill and how good a basketball player he is. But the way he approaches the game and the level of professionalism he has is second to none."

Portland all-star LaMarcus Aldridge has patterned bits of his game after Garnett, a perennial All-Star.

"He's been big for the game of basketball and for young big men," Aldridge said.

Many of the league's young big men have discovered the hard way that Garnett has a take-no-prisoners mentality when he's on the floor which can be difficult for some players who have admired him for so long, to deal with.

Chicago Bulls forward Joakim Noah was a huge Garnett fan when he was a kid, even going as far as to have Garnett posters on his wall.

But since coming into the NBA, Noah and Garnett have had plenty of battles which have soured Noah on Garnett whom Noah has called a "dirty player."

Noah's comments publicly were probably felt by some other young big men in the NBA as well, one of which was likely being Andray Blatche who is now one of Garnett's new teammates in Brooklyn.

The two have had more than their share of in-game spats often fueled by Garnett's usual in-game chatter throwing Blatche's game off track.

In March of 2010, the Wizards seemingly had Garnett and the Celtics on the ropes with Blatche doing much of the damage.

Blatche was feeling good because for three quarters, he had outplayed Garnett.

But then he started to run his mouth, and in turn, the C's began to run the Wizards out of the gym and escaped with an 86-83 win after trailing by double digits with about six minutes to play.

“We choked," said then-Wizards coach Flip Saunders. "Six minutes to go, we’re up 13. We got young guys, they don’t know what it’s like to be in the situation. We start talking to Garnett, start talking trash and everything else. Got Garnett and those guys' juiced up and we just pissed down our leg the last six minutes."

And yes, Blatche was among those woofing the most to Garnett which young and old players alike have found, does not work out well.

“You know, ‘Dray’s woofing the whole time to Kevin Garnett. You can’t do those things," said Saunders, who coached Garnett in Minnesota. "You don’t take a guy that’s been defensive player of the year three times, probably the best power forward, and all of a sudden get that guy juiced up to play against you. You got no chance.”

However, Blatche told the New York Daily News that the two are "cool now" following an unexpected exchange during a game last season.

“I was playing against him and he said, ‘Hey man, just keep your head up and keep fighting,’” Blatche recalled on Thursday which is when he signed a two-year deal to return to Brooklyn, for $2.8 million. “When he said that, it caught me off-guard, because me and him have our history, and I said, ‘All right, I guess we’re cool now.”

Golden State All-Star David Lee recalls catching a bit of grief from Garnett early on in his NBA career as well.

But as he began to compete against Garnett more, Lee realized that Garnett's approach to the game is single-minded in its objective: to win.

"The biggest compliment you can say about him is if he's on your team you love him, and when you play against him you hate him," Lee said. "That can be looked at as a bad thing. But it's really one of the greatest compliments you can give."