Boston Celtics

On the KG silent treatment

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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

30 teams in 30 days: Another struggle in New Orleans for Boogie and The Brow

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30 teams in 30 days: Another struggle in New Orleans for Boogie and The Brow

We’ll take a look at all 30 teams in the next 30 days as they prepare for the 2017-2018 regular season, which is when the real fireworks begin! Today's team: The New Orleans Pelicans. 

Anthony Davis has waited patiently for the New Orleans Pelicans to assemble a cast around him that could be competitive in the West.
 
Still waiting...
 
The Pelicans have more big-name players on their roster this season, but those players, by and large, are well past their primes. And that will likely result in yet another playoff-less season.

 
New Orleans’ best hopes of bucking the odds and become a competitive, playoff-caliber team will hinge on how a couple of former Celtics perform.
 
Tony Allen and Rajon Rondo, both members of Boston’s 2008 championship team, will be looked upon to provide solid play as well as veteran leadership.
 
Rondo, now 31, a four-time All-Star, was in and out of the Chicago Bulls lineup last season before emerging in the playoffs with a pair of strong performances against the Celtics, which put Boston in a 2-0 series hole despite the first two games being at the TD Garden.
 
However, the point guard broke his right hand in Game 2 and was unable to return, which proved to be a major turning point as Boston went on to win the series in six games.
 
In Allen, the Pelicans add one of the best perimeter defenders in the game. And while he is 35, he doesn’t come with the kind of wear and tear you typically associate with a player his age.
 
That’s because Allen has not ever been a player to log major minutes. This past season in Memphis, Allen averaged a career-high 27.0 minutes per game.
 
Despite playing limited minutes, it still didn’t keep him from being recognized for his defense, which has led to him being named to the NBA’s All-Defensive first or second team, six times (first team in 2012, 2013 and 2015; and second team in 2011, 2016 and 2017).
 
Those veterans will be important, but the key to making this work for New Orleans lies in how well Davis and DeMarcus Cousins mesh.
 
Acquired just before the trade deadline in February, the Pelicans were just 7-10 with Cousins in the lineup and 4-4 when he did not play.
 
However, that came on the fly, which is why there’s optimism in New Orleans that Davis and Cousins will work together even better with a training camp under their belts.
 
Ultimately, the Pelicans have to field a team that can be competitive, if for no other reason than to appease Davis.

While Davis has shown no signs of wanting to play elsewhere, you have to wonder just how much patience will he have with a New Orleans team that has made just one playoff appearance in his five NBA seasons.
 
Of the other 13 lottery picks from his draft, only one (Kendall Marshall) has made fewer playoff appearances.
 
Anything short of a playoff appearance will only lead to more questions about Davis being traded.
 
"I understand it's a business, but if I don't hear anything from Dell [Demps, the Pelicans general manager] or my agent, I don't pay attention to it," Davis told reporters this summer, regarding the rumors about being traded to Boston. "Once I first heard [the rumors], then I heard it again, then I heard it again, I just wanted to make sure. I found out it wasn't [true], and that was the beginning of the summer, so I haven't paid attention to it since."
 
Key free agent/draft/trade additions: Tony Allen (Memphis); Rajon Rondo (Chicago); Ian Clark (Golden State).
 
Key losses: Tyreke Evans (Sacramento); Tim Frazier (Washington); Terrence Jones (Qingdao Doublestar of Chinese Basketball Association); Langston Galloway (Detroit);
 
Rookies of note:
 None.
 
Expectations:
31-51 (fifth in the Southwest Division, 14th in the West).