Kevin Garnett is known as one of the fiercest competitors in the NBA not only today, but also league history.
Usually when he pounds his chest like a gorilla, smashes his head against the goalpost, shouts what seem like tribal obscenities after a big play, or even gets on all fours and snarls at an opposing player, fans and peers alike brush it aside.
Whether you like it or not, his incredibly intense and demonstrative behavior doesn't hurt anyone, in the long run. In fact, many think it's refreshing that Garnett exhibits such passion and fire all 82 games of the season.
However, after news broke that KG called Charlie Villanueva a "cancer patient" while talking trash, it's time to reevaluate his on-floor demeanor
(By the way, whether or not Villanueva was right in airing on-court discourse between players is also arguable. That's fodder for another time.)
How a smart player like Garnett could be so obtuse when it comes to the most deadly disease in the world today seems almost unbelievable. Of course, after the accusations made headlines early yesterday morning, he quickly issued a statement clarifying his comments.
Says Garnett through a press release issued by the Celtics, "My comment to Charlie Villanueva was in fact 'You are cancerous to our team and our league.' I would never be insensitive to the brave struggle that cancer patients endure... I have lost loved ones to this deadly disease and have a family member currently undergoing treatment. The game of life is far bigger than the game of basketball."
Villanueva's accusation and Garnett's clarification tell two completely different tales, and should be treated as such.
If the former's story is what actually happened, KG should be ashamed. No matter how caught up in the heat of competition he was, there is no excuse for comments like that one. On the other hand, if Villanueva simply misunderstood Garnett, the Boston star's words aren't nearly as incendiary and hardly newsworthy at all.
But, because this "story" has received such publicity, it's time for the Big Ticket to give his on-court animal a makeover. He could maintain his maniacal attitude while toning down on actual trash talk.
KG: Beat your chest, pound your head against the basket, even let out an occasional scream. If that's what you have to do to play like you want to, you are more than entitled. Just tone down the talking. It's not the mid-90s anymore. Michael Jordan, Reggie Miller, Gary Payton and other notorious mouth-runners aren't around to back you up. You're one of the last of your kind. It's time for you to evolve, like the way you revolutionized the game of seven footers.
Whether or not you actually said what Villanueva accused you of is almost irrelevant at this point. Given media attention and scrutiny, you're under a much bigger microscope than you were a mere 48 hours ago. Tone it down. It will be good for the Celtics, good for the league, and ultimately good for your image.