WALTHAM One by one, the Boston Celtics players talked about how the words spoken by Atlanta Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. only served as kerosene to the inferno raging within Kevin Garnett when he feels disrespected.
Calling him "old" and the "dirtiest player in the league?" that'll do it.
But as much as that bothered Garnett, and subsequently put him in full blown torch-the-opponent mode, C's coach Doc Rivers doesn't believe Gearon's comments had much if anything to do with Garnett's 28-point, 14-rebound game.
"I think Kevin wanted to win the game," Rivers said. "Kevin wants to win, and I thought that was more."
Maybe so, but Gearon's comments certainly didn't hurt.
Garnett is a player who has consistently found ways to motivate himself throughout his illustrious career.
The easiest way to get Garnett a little more fired up than he usually is, is to make him feel slighted which is exactly what Gearon did in his words at an event in Atlanta earlier this week in which he was the main speaker.
"I just found that comment to be a little rude and a little out of hand and I wanted to address it," Garnett said. "Just because you got a bunch of money don't mean you can open your mouth."
It's not just a coincidence that Garnett's play since the all-star break has coincided with the rumors that the soon-to-be 36-year-old was past his prime, too old to compete at the level we've seen throughout most of his career.
All it does is serve as more literal kerosene for the intense fire that burns from within this future Hall of Famer.
"I take this very seriously," Garnett said. "So you guys calling me old, that number defies you have no idea what you are doing when you say those 'old' comments. I appreciate that; I don't read your column but it gets back to me."