Kevin Garnett Must Focus on Salvaging Career, Not Making Enemies

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistOctober 31, 2012

MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 30: Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics looks on during the game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on October 30, 2012 in Miami, Florida. 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 Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

The much-anticipated Heat-Celtics matchup last night yielded pretty much everything we had expected, save a scintillating finish.

Of course, the big story going in was the first game between these two teams since Ray Allen departed Boston for Miami over the summer, a much-publicized, slightly blown out of proportion event that led to speculation for the past few months.

What eventually came of it wasn't much, a few fist-bumps, a nice word or two from an old coach and finally a tipoff.

That, and the cold shoulder heard 'round the world from Kevin Garnett.

This on it's own wasn't something for people to get up in arms about. Garnett didn't actively seek out Ray Allen to share harsh words and he didn't do anything uproariously negative once Allen did come over to try to say "hey."

What came of it was a few snarky tweets, and then lo and behold a basketball game. Shocker, I know.

Even Garnett's explanation after the game was pretty much what I expected, "You know what, man, I was just trying to stay as neutral as I could," he said, "but obviously I'm an intense person. Other than it was blank, I just saw the Heat uniforms and obviously he's on the other side and I just tried to play the game, man." 

There you have it. Garnett plays basketball, he's intense during the game and he happens to dislike the team the Celtics are playing. That, in a nutshell, is the story of last night's game, but it's not the story of the past few years of Kevin Garnett's career.

The Garnett we've seen play ever since the Celtics won the title back in 2008 has been a man on a mission, and that mission hasn't always looked to be to grab another title. Garnett's gone on a mean streak over the past few seasons that can't really be rivaled by anybody in the league today.

Today's NBA is a game full of guys who seem to get along much more than they have in the past. There are scuffles and some old-school minded fellows who hold grudges, and I'm totally down with that being a part of the league. It creates storylines and makes games more interesting to watch.

Over the past few seasons there are multiple accounts of Garnett's desire to downright bully other players, from his elbow to Quinten Richardson a few years back, his unnecessarily physical play on smaller guys like Jose Calderon and Luke Ridnour, and the shove to the neck that he gave to Bill Walker last Christmas.

It's gotten to a point where Garnett's intensity has been mislabeled and needs to be re-categorized into an outright seek-and-destroy mode. 

Garnett's destructive attitude is fine when he's playing defense, it's what the Celtics need to hold down their frontcourt. But when it manifests itself as actively forming feuds with people is when he gets himself in trouble.

He needs to realize that he's much more valuable to this team as a strong and skilled defensive player and a guy who can knock down big buckets than as an enforcer. He's better in all facets than guys like Reggie Evans or Kendrick Perkins, and he shouldn't be playing the game like those guys.

Garnett is a 36-year-old man, he's no longer The Big Ticket and he's certainly no longer The Kid, so it's time to stop acting like one.