Look, honestly, I don’t like the NBA. The playoffs are awesome, and when April rolls around, I jump right on the bandwagon. I have no shame- I’m one of those people who will talk about the NBA as if I actually watched the previous months. I’m happy if the Celtics win, but it doesn’t kill me if they lose the way the Red Sox, Patriots and Bruins do. I wish I was around for the NBA of the 80’s and 90’s. That’s when pro basketball to me was at its peak, regardless of revenue numbers or whatever. There were real tough guys in the league.
I guess that’s why my favorite basketball players are guys who either are still around from those times, or mirror their style of play. I love Paul Pierce (every kid from Massachusetts would die for The Truth, no questions asked). I love Kobe Bryant, as sacrilegious as it may be, and I love Allen Iverson. Draymond Green is one of my favorite players of the modern game, along with Andre Iguodala and Damian Lillard. They’re guys that I perceive as tough, gritty, gamers.
When you use those words, you can’t help but think of Kevin Garnett. He’s the epitome of those words, and more. Let’s make this crystal clear, I love KG. I loved him in Boston, I loved him in New Jersey, and I love him now. I love watching highlights of his glory days in Minnesota, and you bet your ass I’ll cry the day he chooses to hang up the sneakers.
As the NBA season kicked off last night, we see kind of a different KG. He doesn’t play a ton anymore. He isn’t relied on; he isn’t the first or second option. He’s a veteran leader on a young team; a Hall-of-Famer in the twilight of his career. But is he really different? Last night, he got T’ed up for talking smack to Lakers rookie Julius Randle. He already did it to Bulls rookie Bobby Portis in the preseason. KG’s legs might have slowed down, but his mouth sure hasn’t. And I couldn’t be happier.
I’m one of those people that likes trash talk. I don’t think it means you’re a punk. I think it’s strategy. You can boost your team with it, you can boost yourself with it. If it’s well placed, you can mentally dominate someone. And in sports, having a guy who’s mentally out of the game is honestly so important. KG does that for you.
The NBA is soft now. If anyone tells you any different, I’d love to hear what they have to say, because I think they’re wrong. Don’t tell me LeBron or Dwight Howard are “tough guys”. There’s no denying their talent, but I don’t know if either of them have the same success in the Golden Era of basketball because they can’t take criticism. Lebron wants everyone to like him. Dwight runs away from tough situations- he’s done it two times already.
KG is a dying breed. He’s one of the last of the best generation of professional basketball to ever play. And the NBA, whether you admit it or not, will miss him when he’s gone.