Reusse: Thousands of minutes haven't snuffed KG's fire

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 7, 2012 - 12:03 PM

Thanks to a rage that trumps age, Kevin Garnett and the Celtics have a leg up on the mighty Miami Heat.

The final four of the NBA playoffs has been great. And a player who has done as much as anyone to make it that way has been Boston's Kevin Garnett, recently turned 36.

Garnett has played in 1,318 regular-season and postseason games, and he has worked 55,288 minutes in those games. The operative word is "worked," for the number of those minutes he spent in cruise control might not reach four figures.

He came into the league in 1995 playing with the joy of "Da Kid." Eventually, that turned into anger over the disappointments faced as "The Franchise" in Minnesota, and that has seemed to provide his fuel during the second decade of his career.

He plays with a rage now, looking for any slight to feed his on-court fanaticism, and the admiration for him as a competitor has never been greater than with what we have seen during the 18 games of this Celtics' postseason.

Garnett has averaged 19.9 points and 10.8 rebounds. He is shooting 50 percent (147 of 294) from the field and 80.8 percent (63 of 78) from the line.

He has been magnificent during an NBA championship tournament that initially seemed to carry little hope for the Celtics. Ray Allen was injured, and Paul Pierce was playing in slow motion, and a determined Garnett and a dynamic Rajon Rondo seemed far short of what was needed for the C's to make some noise.

They opened with an ugly 83-74 loss in Atlanta, and it appeared Rajon and the Ancients could be done for the spring in about five games.

The Celtics came back to eliminate the Hawks in six, and then outlasted No. 8 seed Philadelphia in a seven-game series that featured some of the homeliest basketball imaginable.

Miami was next -- a Heat team that had sprung to life to eliminate Indiana in the second round. Dan Shaughnessy, the exceptional sports columnist for the Boston Globe, previewed the series by telling New Englanders that the Celtics had no chance.

There was little reason to question that view after two games in Miami. The Heat chugged to a 93-79 victory in the first game, and then swiped the second, 115-111 in overtime.

What chance did Ye Olde Celtics have to come back from the Game 2 kick in the shins?

Turns out, it's the chance you have when combining the lightning quickness of Rondo with the iron will of Garnett. Everyone was on board, willing to contribute, after two wins in Boston, and then came Game 5 on Tuesday night in Miami:

Celtics 94, Heat 90, with a fourth quarter as maniacal as a sporting contest can get.

When it was over, Garnett was giving the victorious postgame interview to ESPN sideline reporter Doris Burke. When asked what fueled him, Garnett included, "Owners talk too much.''

The owner referred to was Atlanta's Michael Gearon, who had called Garnett "an old guy" and "the dirtiest player in the league" before Game 6 of the first round.

The Celtics had played 13 games and won eight since then. And after the most thrilling of those eight, Garnett found himself required to stick a visual fist in Gearon's face.

He goes for 26 points and 11 rebounds. He rises to make LeBron James eat the basketball late in the game. And when the Celtics have secured the improbable 3-2 lead in the Eastern finals, Garnett can still rage over a two-month-old remark from a nitwit owner.

I don't know how he has managed to do it for all these NBA minutes. It should be a lethal mix for an athlete, to have those constant resentments boiling inside the same engine with nonstop ferocity. One would think that one day that shaved head of his would burst from all that combustion.

And yet Kevin Garnett remains the No. 1 competitor I've ever watched -- now more than ever, as in these final games of his Boston contract, he forces one more playoff run from his old gang, and absolute magnificence from the young Rondo.

"This is like a heavyweight bout right here, man,'' Garnett said late on Tuesday night.

This is like Ali vs. Foreman, except in this case the old champ is on the attack, not on the ropes.

Patrick Reusse can be heard noon-4 weekdays on 1500-AM.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Pittsburgh - LP: F. Liriano 0 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: J. Cueto 4
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Odorizzi 0 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: M. Gonzalez 3
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Hammel 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 3
St. Louis - LP: J. Kelly 1 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: W. Peralta 5
NY Mets - WP: D. Gee 5 FINAL
Arizona - LP: B. McCarthy 2
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 1 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: C. Lee 0
Chicago Cubs 0 Top 8th Inning
NY Yankees 2
Cleveland 3 Bottom 8th Inning
Detroit 1
Washington 6 FINAL
Miami 3
Seattle 2 Bottom 6th Inning
Texas 0
Boston 1 Top 5th Inning
Chicago WSox 1
Kansas City 2 Bottom 5th Inning
Houston 2
Toronto 0 Postponed
Minnesota 0
Oakland - T. Milone 9:05 PM
LA Angels - T. Skaggs
Colorado - J. De La Rosa 9:10 PM
San Diego - A. Cashner
Los Angeles - P. Maholm 9:15 PM
San Francisco - R. Vogelsong
Chicago 86 FINAL
Charlotte 91
Indiana 101 FINAL
Orlando 86
Atlanta 82 4th Qtr 11:14
Milwaukee 83
Dallas 67 3rd Qtr 3:03
Memphis 73
Detroit 82 3rd Qtr 1:17
Oklahoma City 76
Houston 78 4th Qtr 11:23
New Orleans 80
LA Lakers 97 4th Qtr 6:48
San Antonio 83
Brooklyn 64 4th Qtr 12:00
Cleveland 81
Philadelphia 75 3rd Qtr 3:07
Miami 63
Utah 87 4th Qtr 10:49
Minnesota 73
Washington 91 4th Qtr
Boston 75
Toronto 73 3rd Qtr 0:01
New York 74
Golden State 9:30 PM
LA Clippers 9:30 PM
Phoenix 9:30 PM
Montreal 4 3rd Prd
Tampa Bay 4
Columbus 3 3rd Prd 13:32
Pittsburgh 3
Dallas 9:00 PM
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 2
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Grade the Timberwolves season

Weekly Question