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Animated Garnett is on another mission

He's a video game star hungry for another title

Celtic Kevin Garnett had no problem with his offseason being a bit short. Celtic Kevin Garnett had no problem with his offseason being a bit short. (Josh Reynolds/FOR THE GLOBE)
By Marc J. Spears
Globe Staff / September 26, 2008
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NEW YORK - Kevin Garnett hasn't had a shorter offseason. And the Celtics star couldn't be happier.

Garnett typically starts working out in mid-June in preparation for the season. His routine, however, changed after he led the Celtics to their first title in 22 years in 2008. Although Garnett's regimen was cut short by a month and a half, he will be in typically great shape for the 2008-09 season, and dreaming of another short summer.

"It's going to be the biggest challenge," Garnett said of repeating yesterday while promoting the NBA 2K9 video game. "But I'm telling you, man, I want to take time to enjoy these next four years. That's not to say I'm going to let up or anything like that. But I'm going to go at this [because] I like how this felt. I need a couple more short summers like this.

"Give me a couple more short summers where I feel like with this team, [we] set our mark. Every Celtics team sort of had their run, and its multiples. It's only right that we set our mark in this league like Timmy [Duncan] has done it with the Spurs, Kobe [Bryant] and Shaq [O'Neal] have done it [with the Lakers]. This is my opportunity to do that. I'm trying to take advantage of it fully right now."

The Celtics played more postseason games than any team in NBA history last season. Also, the well-traveled Celtics had training camp and preseason games in Rome and London last year. After the Celtics won the title, a tired Garnett knew it was important to unlace his sneakers for a while. The 2008 Defensive Player of the Year celebrated with teammates in Las Vegas in late June. Garnett said he also used July as "a vacation."

"I needed the whole July for mental decompressing," said Garnett, who will head to training camp with the Celtics in Newport, R.I., next week. "Just calming down and just relaxing, let the body heal naturally."

Garnett didn't work out with trainer Joe Abunassar in Las Vegas this summer, as he usually does. But Garnett began taking part in workouts Aug. 1 at his offseason home in Los Angeles that included basketball drills and playing, weightlifting, cardiovascular exercises, and running on the beach. He also spent time working out in Minneapolis and said he "busted his [behind]."

"I know what I'm anticipating and what this season is about to be like. I trained with the intent that they're coming [for me]. But guess what, I'm coming, too. We are coming."

Garnett has gladly accepted well wishes for winning his first NBA title with his familiar wide grin. Although he points out that stars such as Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, and Reggie Miller shouldn't be slighted for not winning a title, he is ecstatic no one can say that about him anymore.

"I don't think you just wake up and when you win, you're a champion," Garnett said. "That starts with the mentality of how you think. It's just not validated by having the Larry O'Brien [championship trophy] in my living room. A true champion starts from within with your heart, the way you go at it, the way you see it, the way you compete."

The Celtics had championship aspirations entering last season with Garnett and Ray Allen joining Paul Pierce. Although the Celtics hadn't won a title in more than two decades, the opposition often brought their top game. With a title in hand, Garnett expects the bull's-eye to be even bigger.

"We're about to get everybody's best," said Garnett, a first-team All-NBA pick last season. "But everybody has to know that we're coming with our best, too. I'm looking forward to this year.

"You win it. You set a goal. I'm pretty sure people are looking at us as the pinnacle, on top of the hill. It's only right. I've been in that other position. I've been motivated. You have to anticipate that."

The Celtics have not won back-to-back championships since 1968-69. The last NBA team to repeat was the Lakers, who won three straight championships from 2000-02.

Garnett believes the Celtics have the hunger and the offseason conditioning to repeat.

"We've been in the rotation [working out] for two weeks now," Garnett said. "Rajon Rondo got all the guys up [to Waltham] the 5th of September. He called up some of the young guys. Big Baby [Glen Davis] has been in Boston the whole summer. We've been together for about 2 1/2 weeks now, coming in, working out.

"We're back to talking trash. Back to jokes in the locker room."

Garnett expressed excitement about the addition of Darius Miles, but also sadness about the departure of James Posey, who signed with New Orleans during the offseason. Garnett said the experience of losing Minnesota teammate Stephon Marbury to New Jersey in 1999 helped him cope with Posey's departure.

"It's hard," Garnett said. "You can understand the business side. Pose has things he still wants to accomplish in this league and you can't ever be upset with that. But the thing I learned when Steph left is that everyone has a different vision for themselves and what they want for themselves. You have to respect that as a man.

"That's how I feel about Pose. Pose is a big part of us with his knowledge, what he knew and his experience. You have to wish him the best and know that you've made a friend. At the end of the day, I will have him as a friend and we will forever be connected by the '08 championship in Boston."

Garnett is the cover athlete for NBA 2K9, a video game in stores Oct. 7.

"Video games bring the world together," Garnett said. "I'm very honored to be on the cover."

Marc J. Spears can be reached at mspears@globe.com

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