Kevin Garnett grabs a rebound, which only makes him more upset (Brian Babineau/ Getty).
Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett is famous for his commitment to winning, playing with an intensity that borders on psychological mania. While he has been one of the best offensive players of his era, his approach has most directly manifested itself in his defense and rebounding. Simply put, the guy seems to want it more than his opponents. He'll cut off pick-and-rolls before they start, or out-jump a guy for a rebound, because not doing so would represent some kind of deep personal failure.
Garnett can make a claim to being one of the best rebounders in NBA history — four consecutive league-leading seasons in the mid-'90s help prove as much. Yet, if you ask Garnett, rebounding isn't one of his favorite things to do on the court. In fact, he sort of hates it. From Paul Flannery of WEEI.com on Twitter (via PBT):
"I like nothing about it. It's something I have to do, it's something I'm decent at and something I know how to do."
"Something I'm decent at and something I know how to do" is a massive understatement — Garnett is inarguably a great rebounder. His quote just seems wrong. KG grabs so many rebounds that it's hard to conceive of him not liking it. It'd be like saying Steve Nash hates passing or Kobe Bryant hates shooting. Their stats indicate they're perfectly comfortable doing those things on the court, so how couldn't they like it?
And yet, Garnett's particular style of rebounding suggests he hasn't approached it as a craft to be mastered. Despite grabbing a preposterously high number of boards over his career, Garnett tends to get his rebounds simply by out-leaping people or getting himself to the right spot on the floor, not boxing out or fighting underneath the basket to out-work an opponent for position. To put it another way, he rebounds in a style that suggests he doesn't focus heavily on getting the ball, not the process that leads to him being able to get the ball. Unlike a bruiser like Kevin Love, Garnett rebounds with a degree of finesse.
It's a little hard to accept, but Garnett has become legendarily great at something he doesn't even like. Somehow, that makes what he's accomplished on the boards all the more amazing.
Or, who knows, maybe Garnett doesn't like anything on the basketball court. He does always look pretty ticked off.
- Kevin Garnett