On the KG silent treatment

197883.jpg

On the KG silent treatment

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

When Kevin Garnett speaks, his teammates listen.

Unless they don't, in which case Garnett never speaks to them again.

Is that a little too cut and dry?

Maybe, but that's the impression we're left with after Doc Rivers' Monday afternoon meeting with the media.

If you haven't heard, after Monday's practice, KG held a private workout at the far end of the gym with rookie big men Luke Harangody and Semih Erden. Admittedly, I wasn't there, but from the video it's obvious that this wasn't your average "workout."

Garnett was coaching them.

Have you ever seen those old Red on Roundball segments from the '80s? You know, the ones where Red Auerbach calmly and playfully runs players through basic drills?

This was nothing like that.

KG was, as you can imagine, KG. He was Mike Singletary meets Rick Pitino vocal, animated, intense and intimidating. He held nothing back as he schooled the pair in the wonders of pick-and-roll defense, regardless of the fact that he likely doesnt know either very well and one hardly speaks English.

Garnett was just his same fiery, unrelenting self. The same KG you see every single time he takes the court.

After the session, Rivers was asked to comment:

"He helps the ones he likes," Rivers said. "Kevin is great. Kevin tries to help every big in here. If that big doesn't listen to him one time, he'll never speak to him again. Literally speak to him. That has happened a couple of times. Those two guys that he did that to are no longer here and that may be one of the reasons."

At first, this hit me as strange. You know, just the thought of the undisputed leader of the Celtics completely ostracizing a teammate literally ceasing to speak to or acknowledge him just because he didn't want to take KG's advice one time.

That sets an awkward tone, creates tension in the locker room and messes with the mind of a guy who's only an injury or two away from having to contribute at a very real level.

Its a slippery slope, too. What if theres more than one player on a given team who doesnt listen? Does KG just stop talking to all of them? That can't be good for business.

But the more I thought about it, and honestly, it didn't take me very long to flip flop, the more I understood KG's actions.

First of all, Kevin Garnett is arguably one of the 25 greatest players in NBA history.

I think we forget that sometimes. Or maybe that's just me.

I don't know if it's the fact that I never got a chance to see him enough in his prime, or if my memory's been clouded by watching him limp through the entire 2009-10 season, but sometimes I misremember just how legendary the guy is. Were talking literally one of the all-time greats. To his credit, he's more than embraced the concept of Boston's Big 3, but the truth is he's in a different league than Pierce and Allen when it comes to NBA legacy. He is legend.

Over the course of his career, Garnett has certainly had to come to grips with the fact that most, if not all, of his teammates will be less capable than him on a physical level. And he probably knows that just as few can ever match him on the mental level. Like all superstars, he's adjusted his reality and learned to be more tolerant and understanding of other players' abilities.

But the one thing Garnett doesn't, and never will, tolerate are players who don't share his drive for self-improvement. The need to get better and be better and do whatever it takes to get there.

And if you're unwilling to take advice from Garnett regardless of his tone, or the circumstances then that's proof you don't have what it takes. I mean, it's not like the guy's advising you on which girl to marry or which car to buy. He's trying to teach you a specific skill that a) directly affects your life and b) he understands better than just about and anyone in the world, and you can't swallow your pride? Then KG has no use for you. Especially at this point in his career; especially considering what he has with this Celtics team.

Garnett loves basketball, but he still treats it like a job. His job is to win, and he's more driven to achieve that than maybe anyone who's ever played.

But this is a team game; Garnett knows he can't do it by himself. So he builds an army of guys who can best help him do that. He instills in them the values, priorities and motivations that he knows will give them the best chance to get there, and prays to God it sticks.

When KG's coaching up Erden, Harangody, Mikki Moore or Patrick O'Bryant, he's not looking for a new friend, or a new partner in crime or even to mold a future NBA All-Star. He's looking for pieces to his championship puzzle. He's looking for the guys who get it; the guys who are smart enough to let him make them better.

Not every player is built like that. Not everyone has the mental toughness, confidence, dedication and drive to exist in that atmosphere. But if you don't, you just don't have a place on Kevin Garnett's Celtics. And you probably dont have any place in this league.

So, yeah, in a perfect world, would you like KG to look past the shortcomings of his less-capable, more-dogmatic teammates, play nice and keep everything kosher in the locker room? Sure. But in this world, asking for a different Kevin Garnett is asking for a different Boston Celtics team.

And considering where they were before he showed up, that's a world no one except for the likes of Mikki Moore and Patrick OBryant is ready to deal with.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Horford admits he was 'very emotional' after 'special' win

Horford admits he was 'very emotional' after 'special' win

CLEVELAND – For about 30 or so seconds following Boston’s 111-108 Game 3 win over Cleveland, Al Horford was not Al Horford.

He’s a passionate player, but seldom is it on display in as outwardly a fashion as it was following their Game 3 victory.

In an interview with CSN’s Abby Chin after the game, Horford tried to put into words what the victory meant.

But the aggressive high-fives to teammates passing him by, the intense way he looked into the camera … that spoke volumes about what this game meant to the veteran big man.

“It’s big, it’s big!” Horford said in between high-fives with Jonas Jerebko and other Celtics who came past him.

“A lot of people doubting us out there!” Horford said, staring intently into the camera as if he was saying, ‘yeah, I’m talking about you!’”

Less than 24 hours after the game, Horford’s emotions had cooled down considerably.

“It was an emotional game,” he told CSN following a short practice at the Q Arena on Monday. “Just, having to hear … since the blowout, everybody counting us out. Everybody really believing that it was over.”

The Celtics came into Game 3 having lost both Games 1 and 2 at home by a combined 57 points which includes the worst playoff loss (Game 2, 130-86) in franchise history.

So with that as the backdrop, knowing full well that no one outside of their locker room gave them an ice cube in hell’s chance at winning Game 3, the victory brought about a level of satisfaction that Celtics players had seldom experienced before if at all.

“The emotions at that time were high for our group,” Horford admitted. “And it shows what we’ve been talking about all year, a resilient group that has a lot of fight in them. We were hit with some adversity with Isaiah being down but our group responded.”

Thomas re-aggravated a right hip injury in Game 2, and was later ruled out for the rest of the playoffs. 

After falling behind 77-56 in the third quarter, the Celtics closed out the third with a 26-10 run to come within 87-82 going into the fourth quarter. During the run, Marcus Smart had 11 points which turned out to be equal to LeBron James’ scoring output … for the entire game.

This is Horford's 10th NBA season, all of which have included a trip to the postseason.

That, combined with having won a pair of national championships when he played at the University of Florida, serves as a reminder that the 30-year-old has been on the winning ledger of big games before.

But even he acknowledged Sunday’s Game 3 win was … different.

“I have had plenty of moments like this,” Horford said. “But this was definitely emotional. This was very emotional, exciting, on the road, no one really giving us any chance. To be able to come through like that, it just felt great. I’ve been part of emotional wins, but this one was a special one.”

That was evident in Horford’s energy-charged, post-game comments.

“Heart! Heart! This team got heart!” he yelled. “We got beat bad (in Game 2), but it’s all about how you rebound!”

And we get that message, loud and clear!

'Ecstatic' Thomas was with Celtics teammates via FaceTime after Game 3 win

'Ecstatic' Thomas was with Celtics teammates via FaceTime after Game 3 win

CLEVELAND – Gone but definitely not forgotten.

Isaiah Thomas, out for the rest of the playoffs with a right hip injury, wasn’t in the Q Arena physically, but his presence – and his face via FaceTime – were inside the locker room in the initial moments following their 111-108 Game 3 win over Cleveland.

“We called him right after the game,” said Boston’s Avery Bradley. “He got to celebrate with us a little bit. It’s sad that he’s not here. We wish he was here with us. We just want him to get better.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens added, “I didn’t even realize that had happened until later on. one of my first text messages was from Isaiah.  He’s hurting not being out there but he’s completely invested, for sure.”

He initially suffered the injury on March 15 at Minnesota, but re-aggravated it in the first half of Boston’s Game 2 loss to the Cavs. Less than 24 hours later, Thomas was deemed out for the remainder of the playoffs.

Instead of Thomas being the rock of sorts that the Celtics lean on with his play, he has become their rallying cry for the remainder of the playoffs.

“All we can do is play hard for him,” Bradley said. “He was excited with the way we played. We’re a family. Other guys got an opportunity to step up for us. Marcus (Smart) had a big game for us. It could be somebody else next game.”

Smart led the Celtics with a career-high 27 points which included a career-best seven 3’s going down.

And most important, the Celtics avoided going down 3-0 which would have all but sealed their fate in this series considering no team in league history has ever come back for a 3-0 series deficit.

Doing so without Thomas, the Celtics’ leading scorer and the top regular season scorer in the Eastern Conference, made the win all that more impressive for Boston.

“It meant a lot,” Horford said. “We know, Isaiah gives us so much and gave us so much this year. For him, we definitely wanted to come out and fight for him and our season and our team. It felt good to keep believing despite being down big. Just felt good to win the game and bring life back to our locker room. Because going down 3-0, that’s a death sentence pretty much. This was big.”

Not only to the Celtics players but also to Thomas who also texted head coach Brad Stevens full of excitement following Boston’s surprising win.

“He was excited,” Horford recalled. “He was ecstatic. I know he wishes he was here being part of it. We just need to keep doing it for him and our group and doing the best we can.”