This article can also be found at North Station Sports.
As preseason is now less than a month away, with the lack of information regarding Kevin Garnett's progress, is it fair to begin casting doubts on his ability to play in the preseason? Is it fair to question whether he will be available to play in Cleveland on opening night?
Dating back to last season, I was not a Celtics "KG conspiracy believer." I did find it coincidental, however, that the Celtics declared Garnett "ready to play next week" several times before completely shutting him down around the time tickets sold out for game one of the opening round series of the playoffs.
As the playoffs progressed, Doc Rivers flirted with the possibility of a KG return. Garnett's staring in a TV commercial right in the heart of the thrilling Chicago series furthered speculation over KG's return.
With emotions stirring over the first round of the playoffs, a series most found to be absolutely one of the more exciting series in playoff history, I found myself thinking—How is KG healthy enough to shoot an Adidas commercial but unable to sit on the bench in a suit through an entire game?
The commercial served as a tease to me, a person who had not so feverishly craved a Celtic in uniform since Larry Bird spent weeks on the injured list in 1992.
After my emotions cooled, I realized basketball is a business and I am sure KG was capable of fulfilling his endorsement obligations, even with a bum knee.
I still hate that commercial though!
Paul Pierce gave an excellent interview yesterday to Peter Stringer, discussing a range of topics regarding the Celtics 2010 championship aspirations, he also briefly touched on KG's health.
He mentioned Garnett being at the Waltham practice facility as a, "KG sighting", a phrase we heard all too often during last spring's playoffs when KG was spotted entering the practice facility. To me, a "KG sighting" is not too reassuring.
Then Stringer went on to ask Pierce how KG looked. Pierce responded:
"He's lookin' pretty good. He didn't play but he's out there doin' slides, he's liftin' the weights, he's on the treadmill, so we're excited to have him back"
Again, to me, Pierce's assessment of KG's progress seems to be guarded and not reassuring.
As Greg Payne of Celtics Circuit pointed out, at the 50 second mark of the video, you can see Garnett doing defensive slides at Waltham. As great as it is to see KG in practice gear with the team, it is equally concerning to see the stiff manner in which Garnett is moving in. He looks to be hampered by a, still recovering, sleeved right knee.
I know I have to keep in perspective that Garnett recently underwent surgery on that knee and that recovery does not happen over night.
Some will say that I am paranoid.
My response to that claim is that the Celtics created this paranoia last season with their flip flopping on all things regarding Kevin Garnett's health.
Though I do not believe that the Celtics knew the severity of his injury when they claimed Garnett ready to play the week before the playoffs began (only to shut him down several days later), I do believe their deficiencies in properly relaying Garnett's injury status to the media only added to an already beat up locker room.
Basically, I am disturbed to say that I have lost all confidence in the Celtics medical staff when it comes to Kevin Garnett's status updates, or lack there of.
At this point, the only thing that will subdue this brewing debate over KG's health is for the Big Ticket himself to start talking to the media about his progress.
Even the reclusive, private, anti-social and some times rude, Larry Bird realised the importance his health played on team moral and gave media statements regarding his progress or, at times, lack of progress.
I am not questioning Garnett's heart or desire to play—who would? I am only stating that, at times, an athlete needs to put aside his own tendencies to be private and guarded for the betterment of team moral.
If the Celtics are going to face a stint at the start of the season with Garnett unable to play, they should be emotionally and strategically preparing for that scenario now.
If Garnett's progress is moving as expected and he will 100 percent be in uniform on Oct. 27 then Garnett should say it and if they are unsure of whether he will be properly recovered and conditioned to play by opening night—he should just say it.
KG, we are waiting to hear from you!