Last night, the Boston Celtics dispatched the Atlanta Hawks and moved on to the second round of the NBA playoffs. They were propelled largely by the play of Kevin Garnett, who had 28 points, 14 rebounds, and 5 blocks and whose clutch play put the Celtics ahead late in the game.
Afterwards, he said that he had been motivated by the words of Hawks owner Michael Gearon. Gearon had derogatory things to say about the Celtics’ “old guys” and singled out Garnett as “the dirtiest guy in the league.” Garnett didn’t mince words in response:
Garnett implied that criticism of this sort should come from people who have actually played the game, not from owners, saying, “My only advice to him is next time he opens his mouth, actually know what he’s talking about — Xs and Os versus checkbooks and bottom lines. . . . Just because you’ve got a bunch of money doesn’t mean you can open your mouth.”
Gearon could have just been going by the opinion of Garnett’s peers, however. In a recent survey of 146 NBA players, Sports Illustrated found Garnett to be regarded as the second-dirtiest player in the league. Number one? Reggie Evans of the Clippers.
Perhaps Garnett was just upset that Gearon got his numbers wrong and wants to tamp down on the impression that he might be sneaking up on Evans to take over that top spot.