"Point them out. Who said that?"
That was Kevin Garnett's deadpanned response when told by a reporter that people were expecting a drop-off in production this season from him.
Garnett was kidding.
Unless you're a teammate or family member, you're not worth his worries. And that's how it's always been.
You've heard it a million times - practically everybody in the NBA hates Garnett until they get the opportunity to play with him.
But the ones who have had that privilege talk about him as if he's changed the way they look at the game. There's just something contagious - in a good way - about him. What he brings to the game, the team.
And by all means he's bringing it this season, a season in which he's probably never had to will a group or himself as much as he has.
Garnett has started 30 games this season, tied for the team lead with Paul Pierce. He's poured blood, sweat, and (who knows?) maybe even tears into each game.
"I don't need much motivation, man," Garnett said. "Y'all don't know me. Y'all don't get to see me every day and my preparation and what I have to do to get ready to play."
The results aren't going to blow you away. No, Garnett isn't the player he once was, nor is the Celtics the team it was a couple seasons ago. But he isn't lying down either, and he's made it clear that he's not going to step over any of his teammates if they decide to lay down. He's going to pick them up.
And if the last two games are any indication, he's going to put them on his back going forward. In fact, take the entire month of February. He averaged 16.8 points and 9.3 rebounds during the month. That's a raise of almost three points and 1.5 rebounds from January. And he's still logging 30 minutes a game.
"You look at his numbers. It's amazing, ‘Kevin is old, Kevin is this...' it's all you hear. And no one looks at his numbers," Doc Rivers said after Wednesday night's win over the Bucks, a game where Garnett scored 25 points and grabbed 10 boards.
And now, one of the greatest power forwards to ever play the game is willing to play center because the team has no other better options right now.
"I know it sounds corny, but he's a wonderful guy to work with every day," Rivers said of Garnett. "Even on the days he doesn't play well, he's going to try. Everything that comes out of his mouth towards the team is the right thing. It may not be well said in the way he says it, but it's always the right thing. He's as pure as I've ever coached anyone or been around anyone to his team ... I'm telling you, with a team, you couldn't have just a better guy in the locker room. It's amazing."
The team is quick to back Rivers up. Celtics forward/center Chris Wilcox has always been a guy who seemed to lack something. Motivation? Maybe. Rivers has hinted at it a few times this season that he wants to see it consistently out of Wilcox, and you can bet Garnett has got on him too.
"KG is the motor to this team," Wilcox said. "He's very vocal, he lets us know what's going on, and he's a guy that we feed off of every night. When he's got it going, that's when we get rolling."
Wilcox is settling in to his role off the Celtics bench and looks to be having one of his best seasons of his career in a reserve role. Hard to believe Garnett isn't part of the reason.
But as Garnett's career winds down, his motor sure doesn't. Maybe the gaslight is on, but he's not easing off the pedal. That says something about who he is.
"I've been going through some personal problems as of late, but I'm good, I'm back, and looking at life a little different," Garnett said. "Beat up and all that. Just giving everything I have, nothing more, nothing less than that. Who cares what people say?"