Driven Garnett passing down lessons to younger teammates

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Driven Garnett passing down lessons to younger teammates

WALTHAM When it comes to Kevin Garnett, intensity is never in short supply.

Neither is motivation, something that he traces back to his days as a high school basketball star in Chicago.

One of the first superstars to make it coming straight from the high school ranks, Garnett had plenty of naysayers who didn't believe he would be anything other than another NBA bust.

Instead, the 7-foot big man has been one of the best players of this generation, a perennial all-star and a first ballot Hall of Famer whenever he decides to call it quits on his NBA career.

More and more these days, Garnett reflects on the many accomplishments he has throughout his career.

And when that happens, it's only natural that his mind drifts back to when he was one of the nation's top prep players whose size, length, athleticism and overall game made him a natural fit to someday play in the NBA.

But because of his age, there were many who weren't sure the skinny kid from South Carolina would ever develop into a decent NBA player, let alone a dominant force whose list of NBA achievements is lengthy.

It is those people - the critics - that for so long drove him to be more than just a good player, but one of the greatest to ever play in the NBA.

"When I came into the league, I was on just trying to prove something to myself and everybody who doubted me," Garnett said. "To this day, I'm still driven by them same things. I've never been short of encouragement, inspiration, things that are going to get me going. I've always found an edge and have been able to keep that."

And that edge is obvious to anyone who has played with or against him.

Current Celtic Paul Pierce has known Garnett ever since they were high school stars.

"He had it then, the spirit, the enthusiasm, he had the drive," Pierce said. "And it just seems like knowing him then to being around him now, it's still the same. It's unbelievable for a guy who has been playing basketball his whole life, has won pretty much every award, to still have the type of drive he has."

And now that he's nearing the end of his NBA basketball odyssey, Garnett finds himself playing the role of teacher for many of the game's young bigs.

This is particularly noticeable with Jared Sullinger, who has said on more than one occasion that he sees Kevin Garnett as a big brother-figure.

"Performance-wise, if I can help someone with anything that comes with this game, then I will share that," Garnett said. "I try to give myself as much to the team as I can. If you want to label that a big brother or a mentor, yeah, that's me."

Garnett is simply passing along the many lessons learned that when he was a young player trying to find his way in the league, were taught to him.

He credits former Minnesota Timberwolves forward Sam Mitchell as playing an instrumental role in his development; that and him moving from South Carolina to Chicago.

"Ever since I moved from the south to the north; you understand that Northern people are a lot more aggressive than Southern people," Garnett said. "One of the lessons I learned in living in Chicago, nobody's going to give you anything. You have to take it. I've carried that mentality into the league with me. Sam Mitchell has helped kind of massage that mentality.

Garnett added, "this is a man's league. I've never thought of it any other kind of way."

Acciari notches first NHL goal in Bruins win over Predators

Acciari notches first NHL goal in Bruins win over Predators

BOSTON – It took until his 43rd game in the NHL to finally score his first goal with the Bruins, but Rhode Island native Noel Acciari said it made him appreciate it all the more when that moment finally did arrived on Tuesday night. The 25-year-old Acciari finished off a Riley Nash feed on a 3-on-1 odd-man rush that gave the Bruins an insurance goal they badly needed in a 4-1 win over the Nashville Predators at TD Garden.

Then David Pastrnak hit Acciari with a shaving cream pie to the face during the NESN broadcast as a way to commemorate his teammate’s big scoring moment, and Torey Krug immediately fished the puck out of the net to make certain that Acciari would get it.

So it was the best of both worlds with the team-oriented Acciari, who watched his Bruins win to go right along with his hallmark scoring moment that he’ll remember forever.

“Your first NHL goal is a special feeling and to finally have it, you know, like I said before I couldn’t have done it without the other guys, the other four, five guys on the ice. But it feels good,” said Acciari, who has a goal and four points in 24 games this season in Boston. “It just shows you how special it is. It’s not going to come the first game you play; it could come 10, 20, for me probably over 40, but it still feels the same.”

Clearly it’s more about providing a physical, heavy and aggressive opponent when Acciari suits up for the Black and Gold, and it’s less about providing offensive production that’s really a bonus from the fourth line. The focus on throwing hits, aggravating opponents and playing with extra energy have been a big part of Acciari’s game since his return from Providence, and that is absolutely been by design.

“I think I kind of strayed [from my strengths] when I got back from my injury – I kind of strayed away from the hitting game,” said Acciari. “Just getting in on the fore-check and, you know, just kind of getting back to that down in Providence was huge and kind of get my confidence up down there helped out a lot. So when I got the call up I was ready for anything.”

He’s certainly played like he was ready for anything while posting a goal and two points along with a plus-4 in his first four games back for the Bruins organization. Acciari did all of that while leading everybody in Tuesday night’s game with eight registered hits in the win over Nashville. So the 5-foot-10, 208-pound Acciari gave a pretty good example against the Predators of just what he can do with steady ice time and the trust of his teammates as all of the hockey clubs in the East gear up to finish strong for the playoffs.

Now all Acciari has to do is continue to play consistently, punish opposing players and chip in a little offense from time and time as he carves out a permanent role on Boston’s fourth line, and helps his team win a few along the way. 

Florio on issues NFL may face with Raiders in Las Vegas

Florio on issues NFL may face with Raiders in Las Vegas

Mike Florio joins Quick Slants to discuss the problems of the Raiders moving to Las Vegas, and the latest NFL rule changes.