Chris Ballard recently had an interesting story on Tim Duncan, in which he shared the following:
In fact, Duncan hates Kevin Garnett. Hates him the way liberals hate Sean Hannity. This information comes from very reliable sources, who talk about how KG has made a career of trying to punk Duncan, baiting him and slapping him and whispering really weird smack into his ear. They talk about how funny this is, because the worst thing you can do as an opponent is p--- off Duncan. Then, as Malik Rose says, "he [bleepin'] destroys you." Duncan's lifetime numbers versus Garnett's teams, by the way: 19.4 points per game, 11.6 boards and a 44--17 record, including the postseason. [Ed's note: these stats, particularly the lifetime record, seem incorrect, according to basketball-reference's career H2H stats.]
Duncan is diplomatic about the topic. Asked if perhaps all those years battling Garnett have softened his feelings for the man, led to a Magic-Larry type of kinship, Duncan leans back on the couch in his hotel room and grins. There is a pause. A longer pause. Finally he says, "Define kinship."
It's easy to see where Duncan and KG might not get along. Duncan is the "Big Fundamental", a guy who goes out and produces, but who does so stoically. KG... Well, Celtics fans don't need me to describe KG's persona to them. KG has repeatedly tried to get into Duncan's head, even going so far as slapping him at one point. Despite that, Duncan has had the ultimate "score board" argument, allowing his four rings to do the talking.
I think the "hate" thing is probably over doing it, and I'd be very surprised if Duncan doesn't have a healthy respect for KG. We're talking about the best two power forwards of their generation, and arguably of all time. Both played offense and defense at an elite level. Both rebounded, blocked shots, and were good teammates. Both will be Hall of Famers. Most importantly for today, both are still leading their teams deep into the playoffs, despite being 36 years old. (Happy birthday tomorrow, KG.)
As fans, I hope we all appreciate what we're seeing here. KG has been a revelation for the Celtics, taking this team on his shoulders and willing them to victory. 2,000 to the southwest of Boston, Tim Duncan is doing the exact same thing, although as usual he's doing it quietly. He's averaging 16.6 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 50.7% shooting in leading his team to a 5-0 record in the playoffs so far. Guys this old aren't supposed to be this good. It's like the basketball gods have granted KG and Duncan a magic elixer, so that maybe we can see the Finals matchup that we've always wanted to see: KG vs. Duncan for all the marbles.
I'd love nothing more than to see KG and Duncan meet in the Finals this year. As great as both players have been, I almost feel like we've been cheated out of seeing them meet in more high-stakes playoff series. The two best power forwards of this generation -- and arguably of all-time -- have only met twice, and both times in the first round. That's just not right. Let's enjoy watching two masters of the game do their work, and hopefully we'll be rewarded with the ultimate Finals matchup.