Garnett grateful for career accomplishments

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Garnett grateful for career accomplishments

DENVER The locker room had all but emptied out, with Kevin Garnett the last player still around. It is an image that those of us in the media who have followed his career that began in Minnesota and lived on in Boston, have seen countless times.

For fans, images of Garnett have a certain individuality about them as well which in itself, ironic.

Because when you talk about the greatest players of this generation, often they are clumped into groups of scorers, or rebounders, or assist men.

And then there's Garnett, one of the best all-around players not just of this generation, but to ever play the game. When it comes to such comparisons, words are hollow if they're not backed up by numbers.

And Garnett?

Oh he's got numbers. Hall-of-Fame, milestones-by-the-minute it seems, numbers.

In Boston's 98-91 loss at Denver, Garnett became the first player in NBA history with career totals surpassing 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 5,000 assists and 1,500 steals. He came into the game needing one assist, and finished with five.

For any player to surpass any one of those barriers is an accomplishment. But for one man to do so, and still compete at a relatively high level, is astounding.

"To be honest, I'm not a stat guy," Garnett said. "But anytime you make accomplishments in the league, milestones, you gotta be grateful."

Indeed, good health - and a healthy work ethic - are both essential to having the kind of career Garnett has had.

But ultimately, it comes down to having a desire to be more than good, but great.

And while some see that as being able to score a lot of points or grab a lot of rebounds, Garnett has never viewed himself in such a one-dimensional prism.

"I've always told you guys, that's what I am. My greatest strengths are sometimes my greatest weaknesses. if you know anything about me, my personality, I'm not one-dimensional. It's multi-facets that make up the man that's in front of you. At the same time, I work really hard at understanding the game and trying to perfect my craft."

That work ethic has been a constant throughout his career, drawing younger players to approaching the game the way he does, like a moth to a flame.

"When you see a player that's as good as he is, working so hard all the time, treating practices like games, you can't help but work harder," Celtics guard Avery Bradley told CSNNE.com. "I pride myself on having a great work ethic, but KG his work ethic is on another level. That's what makes him such a great player."

And while Garnett has certainly put his time in working out, conditioning his body on the beaches of Malibu, and countless, blurry-eyed sessions of breaking down video, he's quick to remind folks that his path to basketball greatness involved many others.

"You just don't reach milestones by yourself," Garnett said. "You need help. and I've always wanted to give that thanks to not only the coaches, but former players I played with, former teammates, great friends. The milestone is a great one. I'm very appreciative of it. Someday it'll be a big deal to me. I'm honored."

Flip Saunders has been a part of Garnett's development, both as his coach in Minnesota, and as someone who tried to come up with game plans to stop him.

"He's always going to play with a great amount of passion. He's always going to play hard. He makes winning plays," said Saunders, who coached against Garnett in Detroit and later, Washington. "As all guys, when you get a little older, he doesn't probably block as many shots as he used to and doesn't have the same total athleticism, but he's got a lot of minutes on those legs. He's going to do whatever it takes to win. Whatever Doc asks him to do, he's going to do that."

Said Garnett, "duration is everything, man. To be able still, to be playing on this level, it says a lot. It's not like I'm playing on some grand level, but I am playing on a decent level to where it's helping the team and I'm still trying to create different edges and different matchups and different mismatches night-in, night-out. And I still have a brain; I still know how to think this game. There's different formats of the game for me at this point. And I'm still enjoying the game. As long as those components are still a part, then I'm good."
But Garnett, who will be 36 in May, has been arguably the Celtics' most consistent player this season. In addition to averaging 15.2 points per game, he's also grabbing a team-best 8.2 rebounds and dishing out 2.8 assists while playing the center position almost exclusively

Garnett doesn't like being a center, but he plays it - and plays it well - because that's what the Celtics need from him.

"That's the great thing about this team," Celtics guard Keyon Dooling told CSNNE.com. "Everybody is willing to sacrifice, because everybody is on the same page, with the same goal and that's to win, win as many games as possible."

And Garnett is often the jumping-off point to the selfless mindset that for the bulk of his time with the Green Team, has been a staple of the Celtics.

But it's not easy, Garnett will tell you, to be all that he can be for himself and the Celtics.

"Every year, trying to better myself, finding things that I need to work on, staying motivated, keeping my body those are not easy things," he said.

And as for all the milestones that he seemingly reaches every game, Garnett said, "I'm blessed man, I'm fortunate. By no means is this something you just wake up and it just happens."

Chara 'felt pretty good' in first game back

Chara 'felt pretty good' in first game back

BOSTON -- Zdeno Chara knew which question was coming, so he didn’t even wait for it to be asked in the postgame B’s dressing room.

“I felt pretty good for the first game. It was a good game to come back,” said Chara, who finished with a minus-1 rating in 23:31 of ice time. “Obviously, Florida is a very good skating team and it is always kind of challenging to play them. But I had no issues. It felt good to be back and, obviously, big win.”

Surprisingly the Bruins didn’t have many issues from a defensive standpoint in the six games that their captain missed with a lower body injury, and finished with a 3-2-1 record and 10 goals allowed in the aforementioned six games.

That was something Chara, off to the best start to a season in at least a couple of years, remarked on both right before and after returning to the B’s lineup on Monday.

“I was very proud. It was exciting to see how they battled and it’s never easy. Every game is a challenge and every game is a big game,” said Chara, who has one goal and six points along with a plus-11 rating in 20 games this season. “There’s never an easy game. But guys were battling. They were playing some hard opponents and they won some really big games by gutsy efforts.”

Still it was good to get Chara back into the mix as a top shutdown pairing with 20-year-old Brandon Carlo, and that allowed the rest of the defensive pieces to fall into place for the Black and Gold.

Clearly there was a little bit of rust on Chara after just practicing for a couple of days and he’ll really be pushed with so many games coming up in a short period of time, but it is nearly impossible to push the 39-year-old out of the lineup after he’s worked his way back in. The timing, the reads and the positioning will all get back to top form quickly for the 19-year veteran, but his coach thought it was a good first step with him while showing no issues moving around on his skates throughout the game.

“He played okay. It was his first game back and, you know, a lot of responsibility,” said Julien. “You expect guys to work themselves back in, and I think he did a good job.”

Now Chara will focus on working himself back into the rhythm he was in prior to the injury, and preparing his nearly 40-year-old body for the grinding schedule that awaits them for the rest of this month.

Red Sox trade Shaw, prospects for reliever Thornburg

Red Sox trade Shaw, prospects for reliever Thornburg

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The Red Sox got the bullpen help they were seeking Tuesday, but it came at a steep price.
     
The Sox obtained righthanded reliever Tyler Thornburg from the Milwaukee Brewers, but it cost them infielder Travis Shaw, highly regarded shortstop prospect Mauricio Dubon and pitching prospect Josh Pennington, according to an industry source.

In Thornburg, 28, the Red Sox get a hard-throwing reliever whom they control for the next three seasons. He became the Brewers' closer after the trade deadline last year and recorded 13 saves while posting a 2.15 ERA and avergaing 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings.
    
He will serve as the Red Sox' primary set-up option to get to closer Craig Kimbrel.
     
One potential issue for Thornburg is that he's dealt with some elbow issues in the recent past. As recently as 2014, it was thought that he might require Tommy John surgery, but he instead underwent PRP (platelt rich plasma) treatment and has remained healthy.

Given that the last set-up reliever obtained by Dombrowski, Carson Smith, underwent Tommy John surgery last season, Thornburg's injury history raises a caution flag.

In dealing Shaw, the Red Sox are now expecting Pablo Sandoval to be their primary third baseman -- at least in the near term.

Sandoval missed all but a few games in 2016 with a shoulder injury and his conditioning has been an issue since signing with the Red Sox two years ago.

The Red Sox have Brock Holt to help out at third in 2017, with both Yoan Moncada and Rafael Devers waiting in the wings.

Dubon is the second top prospect to be dealt by Dombrowski in the last 13 months. He included Javier Guerra in a package with three other prospects to obtain Kimbrel in November of 2015.

Dubon posted a .912 OPS in half a season at Portland last year and recently played in the Arizona Fall League. He has limited power, but strong athleticism and makes good contact.

Pennington is 20, a hard-throwing (94-98 mph) righthander who could profile either as a late-inning weapon or a starter. He's years away from the big leagues and has already undergone Tommy John surgery.

The Boston Herald was the first to report that the teams had made a trade. Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com was the first to report the details.