Kevin Garnett's Loyalty to Boston Celtics a Breath of Fresh Air in Today's NBA
But within the sport itself, KG is revered for his old-school approach. He can score inside and out, but his defensive prowess serves as the backbone of his game. His skills and build scream finesse, but his approach is all heart, hustle and toughness.
He's been the most talented player on his team since he set foot in the NBA as a 19-year-old, but has been known to defer to his more veteran 'mates, even during his MVP season with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
It should come as little surprise, then, that Garnett, at least in public, remains fiercely loyal to the Boston Celtics, despite the team's struggles and the swirling of trade winds ahead of the Feb. 21st deadline.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Celtics have been in touch with the Los Angeles Clippers about a potential deal that would ship Garnett west in exchange for Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan. The C's would get the young pieces they need to retool around Rajon Rondo once the All-Star point guard returns from his partially torn ACL.
The Clips, on the other hand, would finally have a truly competent complement to Blake Griffin up front in Garnett, whose skills as a defensive force and an offensive threat outpace those of Jordan by a country mile.
And Garnett, for his part, would have the opportunity to not only compete for another title at the age of 37, but also do so within driving distance of his offseason home in Malibu.
As Grantland's Bill Simmons might wonder, who says no to that deal?
Apparently, Kevin does.
The three-year, $36-million contract under which Garnett is currently working came equipped with a no-trade clause. When asked during All-Star weekend whether he would, under any circumstances, waive his right to remain in Beantown, Garnett responded flatly, "No" (via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports):
"If it's up to me," Garnett said, "I will live and die green all day."
Reminded that the final decision is up to him because he has a no-trade clause in his contract, Garnett replied: "OK then. So [why] are we talking about it?"
"Let me ask you guys something: Why would I make the provisions to ride with [the] team and go further only to be set up to have change?"
And why would he? Because he needs the validation of a second ring? Because his legacy isn't secure? Because he's yet to prove that he's one of the 10-15 greatest players to ever set foot in the NBA?
Of course not, on all counts. Statistically speaking, his standing as the only player in league history to tally 25,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 5,000 assists, 1,500 blocks and 1,000 steals speaks volumes of his versatility, his productivity and his impact on the game at both ends.
If it weren't for (sharing an era with) Tim Duncan, it's entirely possible that KG would go down as the best power forward of all time.
Simply put, The Big Ticket has nothing left to prove. He long ago earned the right to do as he pleases without repercussions to his surefire Hall of Fame candidacy. If he wants to spend the rest of his remaining years in Boston, then so be it.
And good on him for sticking to his proverbial guns. In a time when the word "loyalty" has been drained of its meaning and value by improper use (and abuse), Garnett has done his part to restore its supposed sanctity by standing up for what he wants.
If we're going to chastise guys like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwight Howard for deciding they want to chase championships in big cities, and if we're going to joke about the likes of Karl Malone, Gary Payton and (to some extent) Steve Nash doing the same before retirement comes calling, then why not praise Garnett for going against the grain here?
What should Kevin Garnett do?
Perhaps Garnett's naive for wasting what's left of his basketball life on a non-factor in the Eastern Conference. Perhaps he's selfish or misguided for wanting to stay in Beantown when his loyalty to the C's (and refusal to break that loyalty) might be the very thing that holds the franchise back going forward.
And who knows? Perhaps Garnett will come to think (or be made to think by general manager Danny Ainge) that his loyalty to the C's would be best exercised by parting ways with them.
Because, you know, maybe Sting knew what he was talking about.
Or, perhaps this is all a front meant to disguise KG's true intentions, though that would be quite the curveball coming from a veteran who's been a straight shooter for as long as he has.
Whatever the case may or may not be below the surface, Garnett deserves some credit for not so wholly succumbing to the same tired and fatalistic line of "it's a business" or, on the other end of the spectrum, moving heaven and earth through the "back channels" to find himself a new home.
Is it so bad that Garnett seems to enjoy where he is in his life, that he enjoys playing for Doc Rivers and with his current teammates, that he enjoys working in Boston and wouldn't be so keen to have to start from scratch with another organization at this stage of his career?
Kevin Garnett may be stubborn in his use of his no-trade clause. But he's also Kevin Garnett, which is to say that he's earned the right to do what suits him.
He's given so much to the game over the years—and to the Celtics, in particular, since 2007—and though his more than $300 million in career earnings would suggest he's gotten plenty in return, money's not the issue here. It's a matter of respect.
And if Kevin Garnett would rather play out the string next to Paul Pierce and company over going after another ring like Gollum, then the C's should respect that choice.
And we, in turn, should respect Garnett for having the gumption to make it.
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