Team: Boston Celtics
Position: Power forward
2011-2012 Per-Game Stats: 16.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.0 blocks, 0.9 steals
In an article that the beloved Boston Celtics homer known as Bill Simmons titled "The Rebirth of the Celtics," the following passage appeared:
They prevailed by two behind another throwback KG game (24 points, 11-of-15 shooting), which made little sense because Garnett looked salad-fork-in-the-back-finished as recently as January. I remember when Bird's body broke down (a four-year spiral that started during the '88 Detroit series and crested in the 1992 playoffs, when he could barely move), when McHale's ankles slowly betrayed him (1991), when Parish just couldn't fight off younger leapers anymore (1993). You usually know with these things. You just do. And I would have wagered anything that Garnett was more finished than Desperate Housewives.
Guys were jumping over him (shades of Parish), his jumper was flat, and worst of all, helooked absolutely miserable. Like he didn't want to play basketball anymore. Even during his signature staredown/pointing routine before tip-offs at home games, you never felt like his heart was totally in it. When his game inexplicably rebounded in February (17.6 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 54% shooting), everyone attributed it to Rivers moving him to center. News flash: Garnett had been playing center since the Perkins trade. Everyone was just pretending otherwise for KG's sake. He's weird about this stuff. It's the same reason Garnett likes to be listed at 6-foot-11 when he's really 7-foot-1, or Tim Duncan always wants to be listed as a forward even though he's been playing center for the past seven years. You don't ask questions with big men; you just do whatever it takes to keep them happy.
You know what really fueled Garnett's resurgence? He's a competitive MF'er. That's really it. The lockout ended, he couldn't get going those first few weeks … and then, suddenly, the "KG is done" talk started, and even worse, opponents started treating him differently. They stared him down after dunks, talked s**t to him, accorded him little to no respect. He probably remembered doing the same to Patrick Ewing, Derrick Coleman, Chris Webber or whomever over the years and thought to himself, I'm not ready to be That Guy yet. The flame started flickering again. As he told WEEI's Paul Flannery two weeks ago, "I hear you all calling me old. I hear you calling me, um, older. Weathered. I'm motivated. It don't really take much to motivate me, man. I'm older in basketball years, but in life I'm thirtysomething."
The trade deadline passed with Rondo reinvested and Garnett reenergized.
Truer words could not have been spoken. Garnett didn't even look like a top-50 player at the beginning of the season, but now I'm mentally questioning whether or not I have him too low at No. 32. He just isn't done yet.