In Bleacher Report's Howard Beck's Oral History of Kevin Garnett, KG fans are given a taste of some of the behind the scenes stuff we pray we get more of over the years. Personally, if I ever find out what he allegedly said to LeBron James in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals, I imagine I'll be happier and more fulfilled than the guy who discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls.
My favorite part is told by Paul Pierce. It references the first shot across the bow in the Kevin Garnett vs. Joakim Noah rivalry that has featured very physical play, intense trash talk, and even at attempted biting between two of the leagues better antagonists.
Paul Pierce: One time, he asked [Joakim] Noah if he could rub through his hair, like a female or something. … And I know that kind of made [Noah] hot. And this was when Noah was a rookie, too. I remember Noah looked up to KG. He was like, "Man, KG, I had your poster on my wall, I looked up to you, man." And then [Garnett] just said something like that, and was like "F--- you, Noah." I was like, "Whoa." This kid fresh out of college, looks up to KG, just said he had his poster on the wall, and he tells him that! It crushed him. It crushed Noah.
Obviously the answer to KG's request was no, but I assume that's because no mortal could possibly run their hands through hair that rough without getting ensnared. Knowing that Garnett and Noah have been enemies on the court for years, I love that Garnett wasted no time and got in Noah's head as a rookie. It harkens back to Larry Bird tossing Michael Jordan's rolling basketball over his head and across the gym in an '84 Olympics team scrimmage. No need to waste time in establishing mental dominance.
While Noah is obviously no MJ, at the time he was an up-and-coming rookie fresh off a stellar college career at Florida that included back-to-back NCAA Championships and one Final Four Most Outstanding Player award.
Combine that with the fact that he was a big man that would be matching up head to head against Garnett with the fact that Garnett implicitly hates all opponents, and there was little chance his overture would be well received from KG on the court. Noah was a wide-eyed, happy-go-lucky rookie baring his soul to one of his heroes only to be absolutely eviscerated by him.
Despite their obvious detest for each other, Noah is one of the few personalities in the game that remind you a little of KG. Each is the type of player that is beloved by teammates and maligned by opponents. They have both won Defensive Player of the Year honors, and have each been their team's captains of the defense.
While Garnett's reluctance to score is more notable simply because he has actually been capable of scoring throughout his career, they are both willing to sacrifice anything to get a W. I can't help but feel robbed that we didn't get to watch them match up in the legendary 2009 playoff clash between the Celts and Bulls.
Anyway, back to why KG is the greatest. That "screw you" attitude he showed towards Noah is so rare in today's game. Had Noah had Tim Duncan's poster on his wall the exchange probably would have been Duncan saying "Thank you, I find that to be a flattering statement", followed by a cordial pat on the behind and ending with a dinner where Duncan expressed his love of Noah's Florida Gators squads.
Had it been LeBron's poster on his wall James most likely would have been at minimum cordial (unless he was mic'd up in which case he would have made a convincing yet ultimately insincere show of how much it meant to him and how much respect he had for Noah), but then exchange cell phone numbers after the game and ultimately recruit him to form a future super team.
But it was Garnett's poster on his wall, and Garnett doesn't have time for that. Never change, Kevin.
Top Photo: Chicago Sun Times
Middle Photo: John Kuntz
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Chris Thompson 5/22/2015 09:40:00 AM Tweet Edit