February 04, 2011
Few players have reputations as established as that of Kevin Garnett(notes), leader of the Boston Celtics and all-around defensive stalwart and winner. He's also known as a bit of a jerk, though, a label which isn't entirely unwarranted considering he does things like hit Channing Frye in his privates.
That event caused Suns coach Alvin Gentry to speak out against KG, saying that he "lost a little respect for the man," because, you know, he hit another play where it really hurts.
Garnett wants everyone to know that he doesn't care about this criticism, though. As he said on the site of his shoe company, Anta, Garnett is all about sticking by his convictions. Via Ben Rohrbach at GreenStreet:
We "played a back-to-back in Phoenix. This game was physical as well and super ugly. I never apologize for my actions, as I play with passion. I actually got ejected for (the ref said) ‘talking too much.' Can you believe that? It was unfortunate, and I hate to leave my team out there without being around to support them. Doc [Rivers] got ejected and then fined $15,000 for not leaving the court in a timely manner. A TIMELY MANNER. WOW. The game ended, and we got worked over. It could've been the back-to-back and travel, but they played well."
Congratulations to KG for completely overlooking the fact that he hit a player in the nether regions. Perhaps that's why he was suspended, in addition to the fact that he talked too much. And even if he was suspended for talking too much, isn't it at least somewhat justified for the blow he landed on Frye? I suppose Garnett only thinks these sorts of actions are only bad if you're caught, but I'm pretty sure that's not the way morality works.
Look, between this event, Garnett's response to his infamous "cancer patient" comments, and all manner of other dust-ups, it should be pretty clear at this point that KG isn't exactly the purest soul to ever put on a basketball uniform. But that take-no-prisoners attitude is also part of what makes him an amazing leader. Even if you don't agree with these actions, Garnett displays amazing integrity in his ability to stick to what he believes in and create a clear sense of what's expected from those around him.
At times, that approach straddles the line between psychosis and leadership. But it works on the basketball court, which is all that really matters for the Celtics and their championship hopes. Best not to tell Garnett to act differently when it's brought the franchise so much success.