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Appreciating Kevin Garnett


Every once in a while I still have to pinch myself and force my head to remember what it means that Kevin Garnett is a Boston Celtic. 

This year has been so wonderful that I've soaked in every moment of it.  It seems like it has flown by and crawled by at the same time.  So it is easy to forget how long I pined for this.  Longtime readers of this site know how many trade proposals I threw out on the table for discussion.  How many rumors I pounced on like a starving pit-bull.  I've had my eye on him for years.

When the trade happened, it was nearly too good to be true.  So of course I flooded this site with words of adoration for the man till they became sickening - like eating too much candy.  So we all turned our attention to other matters and started to revel in filling in the seams.  We had our big three tent poles holding everything up, and it was a matter of getting the rest of the pieces in place.  Sometimes, shockingly, I even take him for granted.  Or perhaps I forget to mention how great he is because he's always so great that it becomes almost normal.

Still, every once in a while it hits me, and I feel the need to scream at the top of my lungs.  "We have Kevin Garnett!!!"  For that split second, I don't think about the cost of raising a child or filling up my car with gas.  For that moment I forget that my body doesn't let me play basketball the same way it did when I was in high school and college.  Nothing in the world can touch me. 

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My favorite team in the world added the one player in the world I would add to my team if I could only add one player.  Back in August, I wrote the following and it bears repeating:

If you were going to build the perfect basketball player, what would he look like? For me, that player would have to be really tall, like 7 feet or so. Give him a huge wingspan, too. But don’t make him too heavy and slow. In fact, make him freakishly quick and athletic. Give him low post moves, face-up moves, a great jump shot and the ability to dribble and pass with the best of them. Definitely make him an elite rebounder and defender because such assets are underrated and critical to winning basketball. Just for kicks, let’s also make him absolutely ferocious — just a madman driven to run through walls to do what it takes to win. And, as a finishing touch, make him an unselfish, classy, fiercely loyal, mature leader.

Or, I could just point at Kevin Garnett and say, "I’ll take him."

In the months that I've been able to witness him up close and on my team, my adoration has only grown. I had no idea how much the concept of team really meant to him.  In an Adidas commercial, he talks about "We not me."  That sounds catchy and all, and any player will tell you that the team is more important than individual stats, but who really means it?  Kevin Garnett does, down to the ends of his fingernails and the beads of sweat dripping off his shiny dome.

kg5.jpgListen to any post game press conference and you'll hear the same deference every time.  All the praise goes to his teammates.  All the blame goes on himself.  You hear a lot of athletes say these things, but few seem as sincere as Kevin.  It's almost a shame that he plays in a sport where superstars are packaged and marketed like action figures.

Bill Simmons pointed out that Garnett's biggest flaw is that he doesn't seize control in the clutch.  The thinking seems to be that he's unselfish to a fault.  You know what?  I'll take that every day of the week and twice on Sunday.  Just like I have a soft spot for pass first point guards that have to be convinced to shoot more, I am a big fan of superstars that refuse to step on their teammates to seem a little taller.

I get the argument that sometimes the best shot on the floor is the one your superstar takes when he's triple teamed rather than giving it up to a wide open (but nervous) teammate.  Still, when you trust your teammates time and time again in every situation, they start to trust themselves.  If they fail in one situation, they've at least learned what it takes and may apply that lesson to the next time they get that chance.  In time, this is the best way to build a team and Kevin Garnett is a willing and able leader in this regard.

I could go on (and on) about this, but I'll stop now so I don't give anyone a sugar headache.  But let me say this.  Give me 100 chances to pick a player for my team and 100 times I'll pick Kevin Garnett.  He dominates the game on defense.  He takes over games on offense without taking anything away from his teammates.  He has set the tone from day one that this is all about team.  We not me.  This is all I could have asked for and more.

Kevin Garnett is a Celtic.

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