ALLSTON, Mass. Training camp is months away, but the Kevin Garnett School for Big Men is already in session.
Shortly after the Celtics drafted Syracuse University center Fab Melo with the No. 22 pick in last months NBA draft, Garnett wasted no time reaching out to him.
I want to learn from him. Hes an energy guy. I have a lot of energy for the game, too, said Melo, who along with the Celtics other two draft picks (Jared Sullinger and second-round pick Kris Joseph) was at the Jackson MannHorace Mann Education Complex. With my passion and his passion for the game, I think well do great things.
Garnett, a free agent this summer, has agreed to a three-year deal worth about 34 million.
His return to the floor bodes well not only for the Celtics this season in terms of what he brings to the floor. It also benefits the next generation of Celtics players -- players like Melo who for now at least, is receptive to Garnetts teachings.
In recent years, Boston has added a number of big men who have all bought into Garnetts teachings.
Its not a coincidence that a player like Semih Erden for example, never had quite as much success elsewhere as he did with the Celtics.
KG, he helped me a lot when I was in Boston, Erden told CSNNE.com. He talk. He teach. He helped me become a better player.
Erden was traded in the middle of his rookie season to Cleveland. With the Cs, he averaged 4.1 points and 2.9 rebounds while appearing in 37 games (7 starts). With the Cavs, both his scoring and rebounding numbers were down despite being with a weaker team.
And while Melo has yet to have his first practice with Garnett, he has been warned about how quickly Garnett tunes young players out if theyre not ready to listen and work hard because in Garnetts mind, the two go hand-in-hand.
Celtics second-year forward JuJuan Johnson heard similar warnings after the Celtics drafted him in the first round last year.
Johnson made a point of trying to soak in any and all of Garnetts teachings.
And KG responded by sharing tips on and off the court, on bus rides to the various arenas and on plane rides from city to city.
KG has been great for me, Johnson told CSNNE.com near the end of this past season. He says a lot of really good things, but he doesnt just talk. He goes out there and puts in the time to get better. You see a guy as good as he is, still trying to get better, it makes you want to work that much harder. You want to do well for yourself, but you dont want to let him or any of your teammates down, either.
Melos departure from Syracuse was anti-climatic with him being suspended for the Oranges postseason run which ended at the hands of Ohio State and the Cs other first-round pick, Jared Sullinger.
For Melo, that is in the past now, a situation he can do nothing to change.
Now, the focus is on trying to become the best professional player he can be. And a big part of that process begins with listening to Garnett, who is already in the rookies ear.
Im ready, Melo told CSNNE.com. Im ready for it. I cant want to be out there with my new teammates, learning from KG. Its going to be fun.
He says that now . . .