Kevin Garnett doesn’t talk with the media a whole lot these days. But, whenever he does, the Wolves veteran forward is invariably compelling.
So it was Monday, when he was asked about yet another career milestone approaching. Garnett became the fifth NBA player to log 50,000 career minutes. Saturday he became the 15th NBA player to score 26,000 points. And now he’s five defensive rebounds away from passing Karl Malone for No. 1 in league history in that category after getting three more Monday.
The secret to that success?
“First of all it’s effort,” Garnett said. “Rebounding is in you. You help a guy off the floor, that’s in you, you help a teammate, that’s in you. Defensive rebound is effort. A lot of it is positioning. And, then, lastly, it’s luck. Sometimes the ball bounces certain ways.”
Garnett said he doesn’t pay much attention as he approaches and passes such milestones. Maybe he’ll talk about it with his friends when he retires. That said?
“It’s cool,’’ he said. “The impact you put on the league, leaving your stamp on the game? It says a lot.”
Garnett said he liked watching older players such as Kobe Bryant — who will be here Wednesday with the Lakers — Paul Pierce and Dirk Nowitzki keep making their mark.
“I’m glad I’m able to be here to do this,’’ Garnett said. “Me and Ryan [Saunders] are kind of sharing the moment, because Flip [Saunders] brought me in this situation. So it’s a little dear. But great.’’
Garnett also discussed …
About the young Wolves, Garnett was both enthusiastic and honest.
“This is on-job training,’’ he said. “This is a very, very energetic group you have to teach a lot. We have literal players — when you literally tell them something they literally do it. Basketball is more reflex and responding to. Reacting. We’re trying to teach that game. What you want is a good group of guys who give you good effort, love to win, love to play, love the game and want to learn. That’s what you see here.’’
At this point Garnett’s role is to help teach, more than anything. Still, Garnett said he felt pretty good physically. “I try to give maximum effort every night,” he said. “I try to be super-encouraging to these guys. His goal is teach the young players to communicate, keep a good locker room, make sure everyone knows their role.”
Garnett, who played with and now plays for Sam Mitchell, was effusive in his praise for the interim coach. “Fiery, competitive, wants to win, hates to lose,’’ Garnett said. “He coaches really hard, and he wants it, for everybody. He roots for guys. At the same time he wishes he could put a jersey on and [play]. But his spirit is there. You know, you want a coach who has your back, and everybody feels like that. They feel the coach goes out and fights for you, puts you in positions to be successful, too. ‘’
With the Clippers in town Monday it was a reunion for Garnett. Clippers coach Doc Rivers and forward Paul Pierce were with Garnett in Boston when the Celtics won the 2007-08 championship. Garnett said his friendships with his Celtics teammates were still strong.
“A mentor I could always reach out to” was how Garnett described Rivers.