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Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Garnett’

The “Garnett Rule” – Will it be Banned?

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on August 1, 2008

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.

Posted in notes: college & pro | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Final Celtics’ Player Scorecards (Nos 1,2,3)

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on June 19, 2008

Here are my thoughts, a look back at the players, where they came from, what they did.

First The Three Amigos:

1. Paul Pierce: listed first because he, in my mind, was not just the Finals’ MVP, but the Celts’ MVP for the season. I was down on Pierce the past couple of seasons, wanted him traded, outta here. All the usual reasons: selfish; egocentric; an unjustified, unearned overinflated view of himself; the constant pouting about calls, just a bad overall package. Sure he was an outstanding scorer but he always acted as though he were entitled to more. But sometimes, you gotta do more to get more. Doc Rivers and his unwillingness to bow to Pierce, especially the previous two seasons, is the salvation of Pierce. And Pierce’s own willingness and ability to change. (Great piece by Jackie MacMullan on the transformation of Pierce.) And change he did. We didn’t just witness a great basketball player playing his best on the world’s biggest basketball stage, we saw a young guy grow up. We saw him learn to take responsibility for himself and learn to trust others. Talk about not being able to win without Posey or KG or Thibodeau; the Celts could not have won without Pierce becoming a new and different and more mature human being.

Outplayed “the best player on the planet“. Changed the course of the series in Game Four when he proved Bryant could be guarded one-on-one in the Celtics’ defensive schemes. Went to the basket unbridled against absolutely anyone and everyone (okay, except Bryant when Bryant wasn’t in foul trouble). Dished the ball appropriately and effectively when the Lakers gave him too much attention (Game Six, nine first half assists!). Never cried, complained, whined about all the bad calls. Stayed focused, understood what it’s like to be on a team, and the true leader of the team. And the best part for me to see, what had to have been hard for him: listening to the MVP chants for Garnett when Pierce is the one who’d been here for ten years, when he had made the biggest sacrifices of all, when he was the one who went inside himself and brought out a new and better and more reliable and trustworthy version of himself. He could have pouted or seethed, acted out in some unseemly fashion, “I’m the MVP!”. Nope, Instead he embraced his teammates and put on display a “someday they’ll retire jersey No. 34” performance.

2. Kevin Garnett: How badly did he want this thing? How perfect a fit was this man for this team? How quiet were his critics, those who suggested he could not step-up in the biggest moments, after he could not miss in Game Six? Um, how much Red Bull does he drink??? And what was he saying to Michelle Tafoya after the game? Can we run that back one more time?

Funny thing about KG, his much criticized unwillingness to “takeover” during “crunch time” is probably, long-term, big picture, a good thing. I think the guy is just unselfish, truly believes in moving the ball to the next best open player. For a good part of the season and at least the first two rounds of the playoffs, I was thinking KG was the most automatic 17-20 foot jump shooter in the league. I was amazed. I didn’t think he could miss but he started to the first few games of The Finals, then he got it back late in Game Five and was back to form in the Final Massacre. We knew it was gonna be good when he, first game of the season, rejected, cartoon-style, a Gilbert Arenas (fellow adidas guy!) drive. Squish. Should have been a Celtic from Day One, right out of high school. I believe he thinks he was.

3. Ray Allen: I believe Ray Allen’s biggest contribution was the demonstration before his teammates of his professionalism on and off the court. I think Pierce (and a whole bunch of others) saw it and learned from it. I remember waiting to talk to Thibodeau and Van Gundy after a game when they were with the Knicks and ML Carr was coaching the Celts – that was a good year in Boston! Anyway, Charles Oakley walked by as I talked (briefly) with Van Gundy (he asked me how Never Too Late was doing!). Oakley was dressed like a businessman, a three-piece, pinstriped suit, he carried a briefcase. This was their power forward, one of the best in the game. He was leaving work. When the Celts got Ray Allen this year, I thought of Charles Oakley that night and how that professional persona that Ray Allen too would bring would really benefit this team.

Here’s another thing that Ray Allen did: he improved Paul Pierce’s free throw shooting. This may sound absurd, but these guys, these NBA guys, the good ones, are competitive with one another as well. They know each other’s numbers. And they don’t want to look bad. Paul Pierce’s career free throw percentage was not nearly what it should have been given the kind of shooter he is. Enter Ray Allen and his gaudy numbers from the line. During a pre-season game, I said to my wife (ask her!) that Paul Pierce’s numbers would go way up, that he would not abide missing when Ray Allen was making. It was good clean competition. Ray won but Paul did, too. He had by far his best season from the line.

Ray Allen proved throughout The Finals, guarding Kobe for much of it, that he is an above average defender. He also is a great practitioner of what I consider the most astounding athletic feat regularly employed by NBA players: the catch on the dead run, pivot (turning 180 degrees), square up, elevate straight up and knock down jump shoot. Dunks I can understand, ankle breaking crossovers and spin moves I can see, but how do they run away from the basket, catch and turn and get themselves under such great control to finish with soft, smooth accurate 25 foot shots??? My favorite part of Ray Allen’s game this year were his drives to the basket though; proves he’s way more than just a shooter. Especially his embarrassment of Sasha and that lefty finish. That and when Mark Jackson said, “Rondo finds Jesus Shuttlesworth wide open in the corner!” Amen.

The RV ride with Van Gundy that proved they could overcome anything.

to be continued (James Posey, Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, et al)

Posted in notes: college & pro | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Real Players Don’t Say “Glass”

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on May 29, 2008

Last night, near the end of the first half of the Celtics thrilling 106-102 Game Five playoff victory over the Pistons, Kevin Garnett banked in a desperation three-pointer from straight out to beat the shot clock. The shot was replayed by ESPN numerous times. Lucky shot. Big three points. I’m pretty good at lip-reading KG and what he normally says is not reprintable here, but what he didn’t say after knocking in that shot was “glass”. Cuz he didn’t mean to bank it in. But you know what? Had he intended to bank in a shot (Tim Duncan anyone?) he would not say it then either. Real players don’t say “glass”.

In a previous post, “The Great Ones Use the Glass“, we tried to help players understand that shooting the ball off the backboard is an enormously worthwhile skill to develop. What we didn’t say was shoot the ball off the backboard and shout the word “glass” as if it was the first time you ever did it. Why, I mean, what an odd and totally insecure habit. Stop it now! The reason recreational level players shout glass when they put the ball off the board is they want to make sure that everyone knows it’s not a mistake. Lord. If your game up to that point hasn’t established that you are capable of shooting the ball with some clue as to how it’s gonna get in the hoop, then maybe you should be yelling “glass”. Or “I’m new at this game!”. Or “I’m pretty sure you think I’m not very good so let me try this gimmick of announcing what I am doing. Some day, when I grow up, I won’t have to do it”.

Bank it in. Run down court and play defense like you know that they know that you know exactly what to do and how to do it on the basketball court. 

Posted in general improvement, shooting | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

adidas Basketball, my trip to Portland, OR

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on September 28, 2007

Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett, Flicker photo

Basketball is a game, basketball is a business. To the casual player, the kid and the rec player lacing ’em up once or twice or more times a week, it’s a game, a place and time to run, cut, jump, sweat, dabble in skills, put the ball in the hoop more than they put the ball in the hoop. We’re touched by the business of it only when it’s time to buy some sneaks or dig into the wallet to get tickets to go down to The Garden, catch the Celts’ or some other local team somewhere else. But we all read that it’s a business, too. When Vince Carter is traded or Dallas doesn’t re-sign Nash or the Celts let go of Al Jefferson and half the team for KG (like a father ditching his kids), we hear the sad refrain from the departed: “it’s a business”, as if those words are the medicine that rids of them of some poison, the only way to survive, the only way to go on.

Business, from Roman times to the electron-quick 21st century, has been and is regarded by many (or most) as a necessary evil. I mean who wouldn’t rather lead a simpler life? At that intersection of game and mountains of money are corporations, the empires of evil-doing. The bottom line there is always “the bottom line”: return on the dollar, return for the investor, gaining market share and maximizing profit. Pounds of flesh and much more are given and gladly taken. But is there in that boneyard a beating heart, in that sewer a stream of fresh water, is there somewhere a new net and straight rim, a ball that bounces true and a team that plays the game right?

I just spent the last two days in Portland, Oregon at adidas running some skills’ clinics for their employees. I am telling you, the people there in the basketball arm of that company are into their hoops! As a game. Of course as a business, too, but as a game. As a place to run and cut and jump, make the extra pass, dig in and break up a 4-on-1 break, knockdown transition 3s, practice and play the game. From the head of their basketball operations to the some of the newest employees, they’re out there on the court, playing pick-up, playing in their soon-to-be formed adidas leagues, conducting and taking part in on-court clinics, hanging out long after the last screen leads to the last pass which leads to the winning bucket. Hanging out talkin’ hoops, tellin’ stories about what Bagley did to Manute on that Bridgeport playground, about what Majerus did to motivate players at a Runnin’ Utes’ practice, the smell of popcorn in The Palestra, off-season workouts at Loyola Marymount, about drills they did and drills they saw when they played or coached or hung-out at practices in high school and college and pro teams’ gyms, all over the world.

One of their top managers told me that at a recent meeting, Kevin Garnett (“KG”), perhaps their most visible endorser, said he wants to be and is associated with adidas because “adidas’s got soul”. If living and breathing and dreaming and playing the game gives you soul, then KG’s right, adidas has got it!

Posted in general improvement | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

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