Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Letter 21212-K: Kevin Garnett

Two posts in one day? Have I officially become a blogger? Anyway, this one's been a long time coming. I didn't want to do it, but this year's regular and postseason have forced my hand. I'm sorry it has come to this. Kevin Garnett, meet me after the random picture...

Dear Mr. Not-So Big Ticket:

I have tried to avoid writing this letter about you for years now. This won't be as gratifying to me as the letter I wrote to Mark Cuban, or as painful as the ones I've written about the Knicks, but it still bothers me to have to do it. I admire your on-court intensity and off-court genuineness; but this is strictly a basketball matter. You're a first-ballot Hall of Famer and definitely a top 10—if not top 5—all-time player at your position. You spearhead the redefinition of the power forward, and are incessantly praised for you versatility. But, like I said, this is a basketball matter.

Sir, it seems that when the spotlight is its brightest, you prefer to let others attempt to thrive in the big moment. You play the background while lesser players take the shots and are involved in the possessions. This becomes more clear with each year you are involved in the playoffs. In Minnesota, I still maintain that your sheer awesomeness should have allowed for you to make it past the first round when you were alone in the Twin Cities. Other superstars have been able to do it: Allen Iverson in Philly, and Lebron last year—and this year—just to name a couple. But that's in the past now. You're in Boston green and on the best team in basketball, or so the Celtics should be. All the Massholes love you and the rest of the Boston Three Party, but it's really all about you. In Paul Pierce's ten years in Boston, he has never had the hype, commercials, and Messiah-like reverence that you have received. You, Sir, have resurrected a proud franchise and have increased the value of the NBA now that the Celtics are relevant again.

But let's get back to your postseason "shyness." I put this in quotation marks because I don't believe you consciously want to avoid the spotlight. You're too dedicated a player and love the game too much to not want to succeed, so I believe you shy away from pressure. However, I do believe that, for some reason, you're so unselfish that you would rather have others shine brighter in the big moment than your own superstar illumination. To me, being the best player on your team come with the right to selfishly demand the basketball in crunch time. This doesn't mean that you should have to shoot it all the time to prove your worth, because even Jordan passed to John Paxson and Steve Kerr. But the best player should be involved in every possession possible. For example, your inherited rival Tim Duncan was involved in the play in the Spurs' first round game against the Suns. He took it upon himself to turn that into a pick-and-pop, knowing he hadn't made a three all season. But somehow, Timmy rose to the occasion; even in a low-percentage situation.

Again, you don't have to have a multitude of buzzer-beaters to your credit in order to be a clutch player. I mean, if the Celtics are down three with three seconds to go, the right play is for Ray Allen. What I'm saying is that in the two to three minutes leading up to that moment, you should be involved in every offensive trip down, thus defining your clutch-ability. Yes, you have two other players that once held the right to be selfish down the stretch; but that is your earned privilege. You have the authority to go to Doc Rivers and demand the rock in the post whenever you feel like it, but your selflessness keeps you from doing so...I guess. Lebron's dagger of a dunk in last night's game was a microcosm of both of your playoff careers. Lebron putting on his cape and saving his ragtag teammates with his superpowers; while you stand by and watch others rise to the occasion.

It's tough to reprimand someone for being loyal, but, in this case, it feels necessary. Your passion is legendary, but your postseason play is the one chink in your otherwise flawlessly transcendent game. I would love to see you win a title while you're still great, and not leeching on as a veteran presence like Gary Payton did. Please, KG. I don't want this to be a lasting image of the Celtics' playoff run...and I'm a Knicks fan.



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