Not long after hitting a jumper for the Celtics that clinched their first-round series against the Hawks, Kevin Garnett had plenty to say. As he sat down to address reporters in his postgame press conference, he wanted to get a few things out of the way before discussing his 28-point, 14-rebound, five-block performance in the 83-80 victory.
Prior to Thursday's Game 6 win, Hawks owner Michael Gearon called Garnett the dirtiest player in the league. Those words got back to Garnett and he chose to kick off the presser by responding directly to the criticisms.
Really, this is a must-watch press conference for anyone who has been following Garnett over the years. Regardless of what you think of his game, intensity, attitude, etc., it's always fun when a player decides to flip the script and give honesty as opposed to expected cliches.
After dealing with Gearon's comments, Garnett took aim on those reporters in the room who had written about his age and whether he had anything left in the tank. With point guard Rajon Rondo seated beside him, Garnett told Rondo to "tap me if I'm out of line here" before launching into a prolonged explanation of why age is a sensitive topic.
Via WEEI.com, here's what Garnett had to say:
“You know what, man? I don’t want to come off kind of wrong here, so you tap me if I’m out of line here. But you guys, I’m really good at my craft and I take my craft really seriously. I guess being 35 -- soon to be 36, not 37, 76 -- look it up. I put a lot of work into my craft. I take this very seriously. I always have since  when I was able to come into this league and it’s almost like you guys are shocked.”
“Like this ain’t what I do every day and this ain’t what I was built for. Comes off -- nah, I’m not going to say that -- but it does come off kind of disrespectful at times. I put a lot of work and time into this, so when I hit the floor there’s certain things I expect of myself. Certain levels I expect out of myself.
“I take this very seriously, so you guys calling me old, that number fueled the fire. You have no idea what y’all even doing when you do that. I appreciate y’all. Whoever’s writing the old comments and all that, keep doing that. I don’t read your column but it gets me back to me, all right?”
It was classic Kevin Garnett, and it was awesome—especially after a huge performance where he got to play hero in crunch time. Veterans like Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Tim Duncan serve as examples of how far a basketball career can go if the player is committed to continuing to get better.
Each of these veterans has worked extremely hard to get where he is and to stay at his age. Somehow, despite being in the league since 1995, Garnett still finds a way to get amped up every time he hears someone speak about him. He finds motivation everywhere. He allows the doubt and questions of others to serve as his fuel, stoking a fire that has been blazing bright for 17 years and counting.
Is any of this press conference surprising? No. In fact, it only reinforces that Garnett is the guy he has always been.
It also shows a glimpse into that Boston locker room dynamic that is talked about so much. It's no secret that Rondo would rather be anywhere in the world than at the podium for a postgame press conference.
Seated beside Garnett, he gets to remain silent, save for the occasional nod, smile and affirmation of what his teammate is saying. Garnett's leadership is felt throughout the Celtics' locker room. In that press conference, it was easy to see that. Wherever Garnett is taking them, his teammates are going to follow—even when it's somewhere they weren't expecting.
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