Why Garnett calls Hollins a friend

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Why Garnett calls Hollins a friend

Ryan Hollins vividly remembers the first time he met Kevin Garnett.

It was during an offseason pickup game in California in the summer of 2002. Hollins was entering his freshman year at UCLA and Garnett was one of the top players in the NBA. The teenager was awestruck.

Im like, man thats Kevin Garnett. Wow. Thats Kevin Garnett right there, Hollins, who signed with the Celtics last week, recalled. Then Im playing against him, so Im like Ive got to get my A-game. I had never seen somebody my size that could move like I do and shoot and shoot jumpers and it take it to the hole. Id never seen that.

He goes hard all the time and he talks all the time. How he is in Game 7 of the Finals, hes doing that in pick up games. Its like, wow.

Hollins entered the league in 2006 and crossed paths with Garnett during both NBA and summer games. At seven feet tall, Hollins admired the way Garnett dominated as a big man.

He wanted to learn from the veteran and began picking his brain whenever they were together. Last year Hollins saw Garnett more often due to the lockout and took advantage of the extended offseason.

This summer in particular we had a chance to really bond, he said. The way he talks, the way he communicates, his attention, his intensity, thats what I want to take into my game and be better with.

The relationship was not one-sided. Garnett saw potential in the 27 year old. He saw drive and hunger to win. He saw the things he likes to see in a player.

I had a chance to spend some time with him this summer, said Garnett. Summertime is the time when youre working on things, but for me, I dont make a lot of friends and I can say that I made one in him now. I like the way the kid approaches the game, he wants to be more than good. You see it in his face, you see it in his work ethic. Im a big fan of his. So Im glad hes here and whatever like any other of the young guys that are here, whatever he wants to know, Im here for him.

Hollins feeds off of Garnetts intensity and has incorporated it into his game over the years. With that also has to come a sense of control. Hollins picked up a technical foul in his Celtics debut on Friday less than a minute after checking into the game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

I told him be careful about my intensity because itll get him kicked out of the league, Garnett said with a smile. His first game in Philly he got a fine and he got a tech like 30 seconds into the game so you might want to be careful with that. This intensity comes with a sense of meditation and a sense of under control. But I love his intensity. Kid plays really, really hard.

Said Hollins, You dont want your problem to be, 'hey my big man was soft tonight' (laughs). Its not going to be a problem of mine. Im going to be ready to go. But I never want to do anything to hurt the team.

One area of his game Hollins is specifically focusing on is his rebounding. In spite of his size, he is averaging just over two boards per game this season and 2.3 for his career overall. Garnett, on the other hand, is grabbing 8.2 per game. Hollins has promised to eat, sleep rebounding as a member of the Cs.

I am a guy thats going to play really hard, a guy thats going to get better, he said. Thats the plan (to surprise people). Coming to a veteran team will make things easy. I want to prove I belong here. I want to win. I didnt come here just to be here. I want to win. I want to be a part of something. This is special here.

Just as he has done over the years, Hollins will continue to seek advice from Garnett. The two sit one locker away from each other and Hollins plans to stay within earshot.

Youd be a fool to never take his advice, he said. 17 years in the NBA, how many All-Star appearances, I can go down the list. I learned about his intensity night in and night out. Its not just one day, or Im having a bad day, its every single time. Same thing. For a guy to play hard for 17 years in the NBA, I dont know what to compare that to.

Despite discord, Goodell's reign may not be nearing end

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Despite discord, Goodell's reign may not be nearing end

Monday may have marked a low point in the relationship between the NFL and its on-field employees.

The fight between the league and its best player of the past two decades was in the headlines again. Tom Brady, tied to the NFL’s bumper and dragged around for almost 500 days, had his NFLPA legal team baring its teeth again in the Deflategate mess. The eye-gouging and hair-pulling in that imbroglio over a puff of air allegedly being removed from footballs has cost the league and the PA about $25M so far.

Meanwhile, NFLPA President Eric Winston was saying the league "cannot be trusted to do the right thing when it involves players.” That comment flowed from a Congressional report alleging the NFL tried to exert influence over who would conduct studies regarding Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), the condition that’s been blamed for a myriad of former players winding up addled, incapacitated or dead.

I say “may have marked” because the relationship between the two sides has cratered so frequently over the past two years, it’s hard to know exactly what the low point has been. Or how much lower it can go.

And, with the 10-year Collective Bargaining Agreement only half done, there is ample opportunity for things to get worse. Because, really, why would they get better?

With the NFL’s owners safe knowing that their emperor/puppet/human shield is still in place to take the hits and do their dirty work, there’s seemingly no groundswell among that group to relieve Roger Goodell of his duties. Despite reports of growing owner discontent over Deflategate, the Ray Rice investigation, and an appeal of a case in which the league was found to have withheld $100M from players, there is no Sword of Damocles dangling over the league to cut ties with Goodell.

He was able to oversee the league’s re-entry in Los Angeles (though that “triumph” was fraught with owner acrimony), is going to get a game played in China, keeps edging closer to getting a franchise based in Europe and may even land one in Las Vegas, has enhanced the league’s reach on social media (the announcement of some games being aired on Twitter) and keeps making billions hand over fist.

Goodell’s presence won’t be an impediment to a new labor deal getting done for another five years. By then, when the issues of Goodell’s role in player discipline, drug testing and his relationship with the union come to the fore, the owners might feel compelled to cut him loose after 15 seasons in charge.

But even then, the league’s owners will be in the business of pointing out to the players how good they’ve had it under the current CBA. The league’s salary cap structure – decried as a disaster in the first years of the deal – has seen the cap grow from $120M in 2011 to $155M this year. Players’ practice time and the wear and tear on their bodies has been reduced thanks to the new limits on contact enacted. Benefits are better. Retired players are getting better care. Players have more off-field marketing opportunities with companies that want to affix themselves to the most popular sport in the United States.

As bad as the headlines have been for Goodell, in five years (or probably fewer since negotiations on a new CBA will begin in 2020) who will remember the disaster that’s been Deflategate? How inspired will players be to miss games and paychecks for the satisfaction of knowing Goodell can’t be his own arbitrator anymore?

To sum it up, Goodell’s dark disciplinary reign may well continue unabated for a few more seasons. But as long as the league rains money on its players through the end of this decade, the clock isn’t ticking on Goodell and the owners in the form of labor strife.

Smith: Brady made an 'incredibly generous offer' to settle Deflategate

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Smith: Brady made an 'incredibly generous offer' to settle Deflategate

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith joined the Dan Patrick Show -- hosted by Ross Tucker on Monday -- to discuss the petition that was eventually filed to the Second Circuit requesting a rehearing for Tom Brady's case. 

During the discussion, Smith insisted that Brady made a settlement offer long ago that might've resolved things. But because the NFL wanted more, a deal was never struck. Now here we are, almost 500 days since the AFC Championship Game in January of 2015, and Deflategate is still a living, breathing thing. 

"Tom's a standup guy," Smith said. "And I think he made a settlement offer to resolve this. The league chose not to take it, and that's where we are . . . I don't want to go into details, but it was an incredibly generous offer to resolve this. The league asked for something that no man should agree to do."

Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran explained on Monday's episode of Quick Slants that Brady was willing to accept a one-game suspension for a lack of cooperation at the outset of the investigation. But the league was looking for a face to take the blame, Curran explained. 

Both Jim McNally and John Jastremski were willing to take the heat off of Brady, but Brady insisted that he would not throw anyone else under the bus because he believed that there was no wrongdoing on his part or anyone else's when it came to the preparation of game footballs. 

With no one offered up to shoulder the blame, the NFL declined to agree to any proposal from Brady's camp. At that point, it would have been almost impossible to predict that this case would one day be only a step or two from getting the US Supreme Court involved. 

Yet here we are.