Blakely: Garnett changes C's culture; will he be back?


Blakely: Garnett changes C's culture; will he be back?

MIAMI As the Boston Celtics players mulled about the locker room following their season-ending 101-88 loss to Miami, there was a presence that well, wasn't present anymore.

It was Kevin Garnett, who skipped out of the locker room prior to the media entering.

Garnett's quick exit was a fitting departure for the one member of the Big Three whose return to Boston seems to be the murkiest.

Paul Pierce has two years remaining on his contract, and indicated following Saturday's loss that he planned to be back for them.

Ray Allen will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and he's expected to field a number of offers. The C's have interest, but they've already replaced him in the starting lineup with Avery Bradley, as clear a sign as any that they're prepared to move on without Allen if he decides not to re-sign.

And then there's Garnett, arguably the most important player not named Rajon Rondo on this team whose future with the Celtics is very much up in the air.

There's no question that the C's want him back.

But the real question becomes, does KG want to be back?

He has shown a sincere love for Celtics Nation, and they in turn love him back.

But the lockout from this past summer has hardened an already hard-as-they-come Garnett.

Love is love.

But business is business.

As much as he feeds off the energy that Celtics Nation provides, Garnett understands his play and the C's impressive playoff run have all inflated his appeal on the free agent market to the point where he's sure to be on the short list of just about every team with significant cap space to spend - the Celtics included.

Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, told prior to the C's Game 7 loss that all of the Celtics' free agents are in the pool of talent that the C's will give some consideration to signing this summer.

But having Garnett around isn't just about keeping a talented player in the fold.

When you think about the Big Three era, it may consist of three players but the truth of the matter is it's all about Garnett.

Garnett, more than any player, defined this five year run by the Celtics.

When you talk about Celtics defense, you're talking about Garnett.

When you talk about being mentally tough, you're talking about Garnett.

When you talk about sacrificing your game for the team, yup, that's Garnett too.

But maybe more than what he achieved, Garnett should be remembered most for what he helped restore.

In between the post-Bird era of the 1980s and the Pierce-KG-Allen five-year reign, the C's were nothing more than just another good, but not great NBA franchise.

They had moments in which they were among the final teams standing in the East, but there was never a sense that they were anything more than just a one-hit wonder in those years.

In comes Ray Allen, soon followed by Kevin Garnett.

And just like that, the Celtics were back in business as the newest Big Dog pounding the NBA pavement.

But here's what gets lost in that success.

Yes, they won an NBA title right out the gate and have Atlantic Division titles every year.

But they did more than just crush opponents.

They helped establish a culture, a culture in which Garnett is the alpha and the omega of its existence.

"He's been everything with his locker room presence, desire, determination, and leadership," Pierce said. "He changed the culture of everything we did around here. He made everyone accountable. It'll be great for me to end my career with Kevin. I have a couple years left. Hopefully management can add a few pieces that we need to get over the hump. If not, it's been a tremendous ride."

Chicago Bulls sign former Boston Celtics guard R.J. Hunter


Chicago Bulls sign former Boston Celtics guard R.J. Hunter

Minutes before they opened their regular season Thursday against the Celtics, the Bulls announced the signing of shooting guard R.J. Hunter.

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Halftime stars, studs and duds: Chippy first half between Celtics-Bulls


Halftime stars, studs and duds: Chippy first half between Celtics-Bulls

Jimmy Butler and Jae Crowder are former teammates at Marquette. Isaiah Thomas and Rajon Rondo have tremendous respect for one another as competitors.

But in the heat of battle, friendships and respect can at times fall by the wayside which is exactly what happened in the first half between these two Eastern Conference foes.

After a chippy first half, the Bulls went into the half ahead 57-49.

The last couple of minutes in the second quarter were much closer than the halftime score would indicate.

Butler drained a 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer sounded that nearly doubled Chicago’s halftime lead.

His shot brought a conclusion to a first half which included four technical being called on one play in which Crowder was whistled for an offensive foul.

On that play, Butler seemed to tie up Crowder’s legs with both players on the floor. Crowder then seemed to forcefully put the ball in Butler’s chest. That led to some back-and-forth smack talk between Thomas and Rondo.

All four players were whistled for technical fouls.

Chicago opened the game with an 8-2 run and led by as many as 15 points.

As the Celtics soon discovered, finding open spots on the floor against the Bulls was much, much tougher than it was 24 hours earlier against the Nets.

Chicago continued to play with control and led by double digits throughout the second quarter.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of tonight’s Boston-Chicago game.



Dwyane Wade

The prodigal son looked good in his first game playing in front of lots of family and friends. He led all scorers with 14 points which included 3-for-4 from 3-point range.

Avery Bradley

The Celtics seemed to have found their stride in the second quarter with Bradley leading the charge. He led all Boston players with 12 points at the half.

Jimmy Butler

The face of the Bulls franchise got off to a slow start, but soon picked up his play at both ends of the floor in the second quarter. He had 11 points at the half along with grabbing five rebounds.



Taj Gibson

He was a problem for the Boston Celtics right from the start, providing the kind of low-post scoring the Bulls will be looking for in the second half. At the half, Gibson had eight points and six rebounds.

Rajon Rondo

The former Boston Celtic was doing what he has done well for most of his career – getting others involved. At the half Rondo had three points and a game-high six assists with four rebounds.

Isaiah Thomas

Boston needed him to be more of a scorer than a facilitator on Thursday, and Thomas was more than willing to oblige. He had 11 points on 5-for-7 shooting.



Celtics 3-point defense

The Bulls got one good look after another from 3-point range, with the Celtics showing few signs of making the necessary adjustments. The Bulls connected on 53.8 percent of their 3-pointers (7-for-13) in the first half.