Celtics on the Verge of Finals: Kevin Garnett a Model of Maturity

Ron FurlongAnalyst IIMay 22, 2010

BOSTON - MARCH 07:  Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics looks on before a free throw in the second half against the Washington Wizards on March 7, 2010 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeated the Wizards 86-83. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Kevin Garnett is known by anyone who ever put a measuring tape to him to be 7' tall. Yet, he has always been listed at 6'11''. This might tell you a little bit about the 15 year NBA legend. He knows he is 7' tall, but isn't going to correct you if want to call him 6'11".

The future hall-of-famer is on the brink of heading back to the NBA finals for the second time, after the Celtics went up 3-0 in their series against the Magic.

It could be argued that two years ago Garnett took more responsibility in pursuit of getting that championship.

For one, he was used to taking responsibility in Minnesota. If he didn't do it, no one was going to.

And two, he had never won an NBA championship, and he was going to do everything in his power to make sure it happened.

But this time around, you get the sense that Garnett doesn't feel like he has to do it all. Realistically, at 34-years-old, he probably can't do it all by himself anymore. But with this group of Celtics, and the emergence of Rajon Rondo has a star, he doesn't have to. Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Garnett seem to take turns keeping up with the always full of energy of Rondo.

This is not to say he isn't playing with a sense of urgency and determination. He always has played that way, and you kind of get the feeling he always will. Yet, there is something about the big man that seems a bit more relaxed. A bit more confident. A bit more mature.

Kevin Garnett, along with Tim Duncan, revolutionized the game when they came into the league; Garnett 15 years ago and Duncan 14. They played the game with more guard-like skill they any big men that had come before them.

Garnett, the 20-10-5 man so many times in his career, will never see those numbers again. Nor will he ever lead the league again in rebounds, something he did four times.

But the former defensive player of the year, and 10 times a member of the all-defensive team, can still be a dominating force on the defensive end. He has all but made Rashard Lewis a non-factor in this series.

On the offensive end he also runs the pick and roll as good as anyone in the league, and has a mid-range jumper as good as most shooting guards.

Not to put the cart before the horse (the Magic are still alive in this series, if barely), but if the Celtics do make the finals their likely opponent will be the Lakers. The Celtics will be an underdog in that series. They will be called old. They will be called slow.

That's okay with Garnett. You can call him old. You can call him a little slower than he used to be. Heck, you can even call him 6'11" tall. It doesn't matter to him. They called him that before the Cavs series. They called him that before the Magic series. You get the feeling  six years from now they'll still be calling him that as he approaches 40.

Da Kid will always be Da Kid.