I knew the Boston Celtics were going to be good this season, but we haven’t seen an NBA team go 20-2 for a very long time. Tonight Kevin Garnett and Paul P. and the rest of the Celtics play against another great team in the Detroit Pistons. If I didn’t have a game of my own tonight, I would be watching the Detroit vs. Boston game. Flip Saunders knows Kevin as well as anyone in the league and Kevin Garnett may know most of Detroit’s offense like the back of his hand. Needless to say, it’s going to be a great matchup.
I guess they are putting microphones on NBA coaches for nationally televised games. That is the buzz I’ve been hearing around the league. I am really surprised the networks and the coaches decided to do this. I just want to know who at the TV network has the job of listening in to the coach the whole game and trying to figure out what they can put on the air and what they can’t play. In addition, most coaches have their right hand man that they talk to privately back and forth during the game. To draw some sort of parallel, think about someone having your family miked up for a week. To me it’s tough to imagine that. In fairness, the leauge does promise that it won’t use material that is too over the top, but that means the only thing they’ll be able to play on TV is the real generic stuff which isn’t too interesting anyway.
Today I got the unimaginable news that Kevin Garnett was traded to the Boston Celtics. Being out here in Minnesota and hearing this news was interesting because it is the most talked about thing in almost every circle in which I move. Friends from out of state are emailing me about it. A non-sports radio station “wished Kevin safe travels to Boston” tonight at 10pm while I was driving home.
Here are a few memories of the Kevin Garnett that I know. This is the side that the public doesn’t see every day.
One Cardinal rule in our locker room is this: Never wear gear from another NBA team. So when our new assistant trainer from Oklahoma had a Dallas Mavericks screensaver on his cellphone, Kevin Garnett found it and enforced the penalty. When I say penalty, Kevin made him sprint two hundred yards from our team bus to a pickup truck parked in the distance and then yell out “I love the Timberwolves!” three times.
When Craig Smith came into practice wearing some Golden State Warriors practice shorts, Kevin brought out the entire team and had Craig go to center court and hold up the shorts and say “I will never wear these shorts again,” while he held the shorts up and walked around three times. Everyone was laughing. Craig was laughing too. KG loves Craig on and off the court. I’ve never seen a rookie big man like Craig come in and win over the trust and confidence of Kevin so quickly.
Our offense calls for two “big men” to be on the court at the same time and it takes quite a while to learn all of the defensive rotations. Kevin Garnett expects nothing short of perfection on defense. Mark Blount is one of the smartest veteran centers in the NBA and he and Kevin read each other all the time. Where I have been impressed with Craig is that he’s beyond his years on defense. On offense, he’s been tearing up the other team’s interior and scoring in bunches. But in some ways he’s been even better on defense.
But getting back to the theme of this blog. I never thought Kevin Garnett would be apprehended by our own locker room fashion police. But it did happen a few months ago. It all started after practice one day when a few of us got into the locker room to shower and get ready to go home. KG was still down in the weight room lifting weights. Rashad McCants went over to Kevin’s locker and pulled out his shoes and put them out for everyone to see. “What the heck are these?” Rashad said as he pointed to Kevin’s shoes. As everyone looked down to Kevin’s locker we were shocked to see that his shoes had the words “Portland Trailblazers” alongside the Trailblazers logo! All of this was of course in Trailblazer red and black colors!
I’ve never seen so many guys so excited to bust Kevin’s chops. When Kevin finally got up to the locker room he walked in and saw his shoes out for everyone to see. Kevin busted out smiling and yelled out, “Who was in my locker! I don’t know who was in my locker!” Rashad stood up and called out, “I peeped it out when you walked in here this morning!” Trenton Hassell was having a field day. “Throw those shoes in the trash” he yelled out. It was my job to take the shoes and stomp on them and then take them to the garbage can. Kevin was laughing so hard. I guess Adidas had sent out a bunch of walking shoes to Kevin and the shoes all had logos of different NBA teams.
Kevin told us how he had gotten up that morning and tried on the Portland shoes and that they had looked good. So he asked his wife “What do you think? Can I wear these in to practice?”
“Well Kevin, I don’t think so. I mean, the Trailblazers are in your conference and you play against them, right?….” she said.
Kevin decided to wear the shoes in anyway and explained how he “had pushed his jeans down over the Trailblazers logo and walked into the locker room really quickly.” He even showed us how he had pushed his shoes way to the back of his locker area under his chair so that none of us would see the shoes. Well, nothing gets past Rashad fashion wise. We had a good laugh that day. But the story didn’t end there. Trenton Hassell called out:
“Man I’m going to use those shoes…..I’m getting them out of the garbage can. I’ve got my guy in Chattangooga Tennesse and he’s 6’10” and wears size fourteen too!”
Back to a serious note. Kevin Garnett is one of the mot loyal individuals I have ever met in my life. We’re all gong to miss him and we all wish him well.
It’s always nice to have a team bonding event during the middle of a long season. The most recent one took place at Gerald Green’s apartment near the Mall of America. Gerald hosted the team, and Antoine Walker had some great food catered in from one of the best Italian restaurants in the twin cities, Vescio’s Cucina. I guess it was technically a super bowl party but it was also just a time to bond, relax, and hang out.
This friday we have the Boston Celtics coming into town for one of our biggest games of the year. All the fans here in Minnesota keep on asking “Is Kevin Garnett going to play?” or “If he doesn’t play, will he be here at the Target Center?” I think the issue right now is that KG has an abdominal muscle injury and all of the above questions are up in the air. When the average fan hears about an abdominal strain it really doesn’t sound that bad. But for those of us that have had the injury (I had one in 2001-2002) it is extremely painful and must be treated or it gets worse and worse to the point you can’t run at all.
I suspect that KG’s strain will get better soon and he will be back as soon as humanly possible. In my 3 years with Kevin Garnett, I basically only saw him miss one practice due to health–it was food poisoning. So you know it’s serious when Kevin sits out. The guy just never gets hurt and when he is hurt he just plays through it. Unfortunately this is one injury where rest is absolutely mandatory.
As far as this season goes, we are finally starting to play well. Al Jefferson continues to blossom and in my mind he has the best jump hook in the NBA. But most importantly we are all growing as a team. Fans are continuing to come out and support us and our crowds have been great. Hopefully I will see you at our game this Friday night!
If there’s one phrase about the NBA I never liked it’s this one: “It’s a business.” Unfortunately as players and coaches we know the phrase is true. We know that we can get traded, released or let go. This week the organization made a business move and relieved Flip Saunders of his coaching duties. I think that all of us players feel partially responsible and we’re very sorry to see Flip gone.
Flip coached me for a year and a half and during that time I learned a tremendous amount about the game of basketball. I reached Flip on his cell phone right after practice when they announced he wouldn’t be our coach and we had a good talk. He said he was going to find the positive in the situation and enjoy spending time with his wife and kids. Believe me, there are only a few people out there that have what it takes to be an NBA head coach. You have to know how to handle and communicate with today’s athlete, which is no small task. You must know the X’s and O’s and be resilient. Flip has all of those qualities and he is passionate about the game. I’m looking forward to the next time I see Flip so that I can thank him in person for a great two years.
Every coach is different. I still remember my rookie year in the NBA with Los Angeles losing our home opener. After we all got to the locker room, Phil Jackson walked in and said, “The dogs bark and the caravan moves on… practice at 10:00 tomorrow.” Then everyone just got up and wrapped ice on their knees and stepped into the shower.
Kevin McHale will coach us from now on. Mac (as everyone calls him) will be different than Phil and Flip. I think as far as the offense goes, Mac is going to run a lot of the old Boston Celtics’ sets which rely on setting hard picks, making crisp passes and throwing the occasional “dribble weave” into the mix. The “dribble weave” is where a post player dribbles the ball toward a guard, hands it to him and then knocks the living daylight of the guard’s defender with a screen. Prior to being named head coach, Mac always worked out with players after practice and taught us post moves. I think the transition should be smooth.
All-Star Weekend is here already and Ervin Johnson (player representative) and Kevin Garnett will be going to Denver in different capacities. Erv will go to Denver to help out with negotiations between the owners and the National Basketball Players Association, while KG will be appearing in his eighth All-Star game. Hopefully the owners and players representatives can make progress in working toward a new collective bargaining agreement to avoid what hockey is going through right now. Erv is someone who is always involved in helping others. He loves to do things in a quiet way to help out folks and he’d probably hit me with a forearm to the chest if I told any of the things he’s done (just kidding). Let me share just one thing: Erv rounded up donations from our locker room and from players on other teams, in addition to digging in his own pocket, to help pay for the NBA chaplains from each team to attend All-Star Weekend in Colorado.
Hopefully you are enjoying this journal. If you have any questions you want me to answer, you can send them to me on my website: www.madsen35.com. Have a great week!