Calling Boston Celtics star Kevin Garnett an intense athlete is like calling water wet or salt salty. There have been few players in the history of the league as committed as Garnett, and that passion shows in pretty much everything he does on the basketball court. In a sport where players need any edge they can get to be successful, Garnett always seems to have a psychological advantage.
That's so much the case, in fact, that it sometimes seems as if he takes things too seriously. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that he considers his devotion to the Celtics as a matter of life and death. From an interview with WEEI in Boston, as transcribed by Sports Radio Interviews (via SLAM):
How tired he was at the end of the game against the 76ers:
"I'd die out here if I had to and that's real talk. I've been doing this for a long time and ways where I know how to conserve energy and get 'em at free-throw lines and when guys are shooting free throws, those are valuable seconds for me. When I train in the summer I train for a lack of, and when I say that, I mean rest. I program my body to recover as quickly as it can. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I'm a cerebral player these days and I know how to buy myself time on pick-and-rolls and stuff like that, things that you don't see when you're in your seat and it helps me."
KG's answer is generally about staying fresh as he ages, but the dying comment nevertheless provides a telling picture of how he approaches the game. For KG, it's not simply a matter of wanting things more, but that what he's doing is actually about staying alive. Basketball becomes something that encompasses his whole life, not just his job or an issue of effort.
Players exaggerate emotions all the time, but KG stands out for seeming as if he legitimately believes the hyperbole of talking trash. The things he says aren't what gives him his edge. It's that he buys into them instead of treating them as mind games.
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