I was gonna post about this last November when I first started seeing Kevin Garnett and, later, but less often, Kendrick Perkins, employ this “technique”, but I got distracted by the Celtics winning all their games and my prediction of a 49 win season for them quickly looking pretty stupid. I first heard it referred to as the “Garnett Rule” yesterday during the telecast of Team USA’s dismantling of the overmatched Turkish National team in a prelim to the Olympics. The whistle blew while Team USA was on defense. A Turkish player, just for rhythm, just for confidence, just because this is what a shooter does (especially if you’re not feeling rhythm or confidence), took a shot well after the whistle. Chris Bosh, invoking Kevin Garnett, went up and goaltended it. The crowd hooted as if the refs were supposed to do something about it. Bosh did it, as Garnett and the Celtics do it, to deny the shooter any advantage. They just go up and cuff it. If the shooter is trying to get the feel of making a hoop, even if it doesn’t count, KG says, “unh, unh” (meaning, “no, no”). It is a subtle but, I think, powerful, psychological ploy.
Since it happens in a “dead ball” situation, meaning after a whistle, the player really is free to do whatever he or she wants, right? Well, not really. You can get a technical or incur a violation for a whole host of misadventures: shoving another player, arguing with a referee, not leaving the court or getting back into a game in a timely manner, taunting. James Posey, Garnett’s erstwhile former “brother-in-intimidation” used to slap the ball out of players’ hands after foul calls. He’d always do it in such a way that was not egregious enough to earn a T, but enough to irk the opponent. Advantage Posey. Along with their commitment to defense and their obvious overall focus, it was just another sign that these Celtics were more serious and wanted it more than the opponents.
I think the NBA will, sooner rather than later, legislate against Garnett and others goaltending after the whistle. If I were other teams, I would start doing the same, take away the Celts taking away the advantage. Or how about fouling Garnett when he goes up to snag it? Or alleyooping it? Or tipping it to a teammate who can then score. Obviously this could get out of control. That’s why, soon enough, the NBA and the officials will start doling out T’s for swatting shots.