So the question was asked of Pierce: Where do you think KG belongs in the MVP debate?
"You have to understand," Pierce replied, "where I came from a year ago, and to be on pace to win as many games as we are, I wouldn't have believed it."
As Pierce spoke, Garnett kept trying to interrupt him, even injecting an off-color remark about bovine waste in his effort to make Pierce clam up.
But Pierce wouldn't have it.
"The whole face of Celtics nation turned around when the trade happened with this guy. Everybody talks about the MVP, and they talk about numbers, but this guy has changed the whole culture around here, and I think that says a lot. The mentality, from a day-to-day aspect, everything is changed from a year ago."
The MVP debate will continue over the final three weeks of the regular season, and the thinking here is that Bryant will ultimately edge Garnett when the votes are counted, with Paul finishing third, LeBron James fourth and Dwight Howard fifth. But that does not mean that Bryant is clearly the most deserving.
Maybe he is and maybe he isn't, but he's not a slam dunk to win it. Not when there's a guy sitting 41 games over .500 -- which, lest we forget, gives his team the best record in the league -- whose team just took down another Western Conference powerhouse by 20 points.
You can argue over who is more deserving, but no matter which type of numbers you look at, you can't have a legitimate MVP debate without including Kevin Garnett in the discussion.