For a second I thought I was watching Kevin Garnett, the MVP back when he played for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Last night, Garnett put on of the best playoff performances and did something no Boston Celtic has ever done in their rich history.
Garnett became the first Celtic to score at least 28 points, grab at least 14 rebounds, and block at least five shots. “The Kid” played 39 minutes, shot 10-19 from the floor and led the Celtics to a series-clinching win over the Atlanta Hawks. Garnett hit his biggest shot with 30 seconds left in the game to put the Celtics up for good, 80-79. After Ray Allen and Al Horford each split free-throws, Paul Pierce hit two free-throws with one second left to clinch the game, 83-80. Garnett’s performance brings me back to his MVP season, 2003-2004, in which he recorded 34 points, 22 rebounds, and five assists with an ear infection, on his 28th birthday, and against the Sacramento Kings in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
A few days ago, Hawks Co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. called Garnett the “dirtiest player” in the NBA. But I can guarantee you, Mr. Gearon that you would take Garnett over Josh Smith ten times out of ten. Garnett is one of the most intense, fierce, and greatest competitors to ever play in the NBA and if he gets criticized for being dirty, so be it. How many times has Garnett been suspended in his Hall-of-Fame career? I believe the answer is less than ten times. The dude demands more out of his aging body than he demands out of his entire team. He isn’t afraid to call you out if you don’t play with 100% energy. If people and athletes are going to criticize him for that, than they can go kick rocks because this dude has done more in his career than anyone who is criticizing him has ever done in their career. I would rank him as one of the top five competitors of all-time, including all sports. He will be the greatest Timberwolf to ever put on a jersey unless Kevin Love wins a ring or two with the Timberwolves.
Don’t hate on someone who still gives a damn even though his body is running on empty.
Now, the Celtics will take on the Philadelphia 76ers, who escaped the Derrick Rose-less Chicago Bulls, starting Saturday. This might be a tough series to watch because this will be a defensive-minded series.
But I will promise you this: there will be no shortage of “tough” players on the court.