BOSTON – It didn’t matter if they knew he was declared out before the game. It didn’t matter that Sam Mitchell does not let him play the second game of back-to-backs.
The fans wanted to see their Celtics legend.
"We want KG!" echoed off the parquet floor, ricocheted off the banners and landed softly on the Minnesota Timberwolves’ bench. The process repeated over and over.
"I really wanted them to stop that because I didn’t know if Sam was going to actually put me in," Kevin Garnett said. "I was like, please, please. But it was cool. Like I said, the unconditional appreciation is overwhelming. So thank you guys for that. I appreciate that."
Sometimes the chant started because one fan in the back of the loge started screaming it. Sometimes because Kevin would flash on the jumbotron. But it was all a buildup to the one moment everyone in the building was waiting for.
With 1:02 left in the game, a familiar groove started to leak out of the Garden speakers. Within seconds, the whole place was screaming. As Garnett walked onto to the court and started throwing his hand up to his muse Gino, the ghost of championships past was alive and well. The KG chants echoed throughout the Jungle one last time as the Bee Gees faded into the background.
Last time he was in Boston, KG told CLNS Radio that he didn’t get to get Gino into his system. After Monday night, it will never get out.
"That's classic. That was like the cherry on top for me," Garnett said when asked about getting to enjoy some Gino Time. "My teammates were looking at me like, ‘What is this?’ I was like, I’ll explain later. So thank you for whoever put the Gino on. I know my guys here put it on for me, so I appreciate that."
Garnett didn’t get to play, but it’s part of the grind of being the longest tenured player in NBA history.
"Back-to-backs are very difficult for me regardless of what I look like out here. I think that’s a tribute to obviously my work ethic and things I put into this, making 39 look like 25 these days.
"But it’s really hard. It’s hard to even come in this building and not want to play. But the appreciation of not only the city, but the Mass. area, the Northeast, they give me -- the love is unconditional. And I’m very appreciative of it."
In the end, Boston was the place that shaped KG’s legacy and took him from the being in the realm of the Charles Barkleys and into the pantheon of championship legends.
"Everything. It meant everything," he said describing Boston’s importance. "I like to say that Minnesota made me a young man. I grew up when I came to Boston. I learned a lot coming from the Minnesota situation, and I applied it in my Boston situation. I’ve got all great memories here."
Olynyk Catches Fire in First Start of The Season
With Amir Johnson (plantar fasciitis) and Jared Sullinger (back spasms) out, the aggregate force of the Celtics came through. Six players scored at least 12 points, while Evan Turner and Isaiah Thomas combined for 22 assists. But it was Kelly Olynyk’s dizzying display of sharp three-point shooting, effective help defense (when Karl Towns wasn’t around to wreak havoc) and one hilarious jab step to send Towns tripping over himself.
"All I did was jab [step] and he fell over. So he probably tripped," Olynyk told CLNS Radio about the move.
But starting was key for Olynyk, who looks more like a rhythm player offensively as his game matures. "You start, you can get in a little bit of rhythm," he said. "Coming off the bench, you’ve got to have an aggressive mentality almost immediately. As a starter you have more of an option to kind of ease yourself into the game and get into the game. But I think as a whole we played pretty well tonight, shot the ball well. Could have tightened up a few things defensively, but I think guys as a whole played well."
Jae Crowder credited the team’s preparation, as they got to enjoy a rare two-practice week leading up to the game.
"We had a good two days of practice," Crowder said. "Guys responded well and showed it early today. They got off to a good start."
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