They have played against each other for 15 years, certainly exchanging heavy trash talk, but there is a mutual respect between Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett. And Bryant defended Garnett, who has faced great criticism this season for his on-court antics, such as an exchange with Detroit's Charlie Villanueva or his shot to the midsection of Phoenix's Channing Frye.
"He's a Celtic," Bryant joked when asked about Garnett's demeanor. "That's what Celtics do. You guys will love that one. He's always been intense. I've known him since high school and he's always been intense. But he's a great guy. I've known him for years. He's not a (jerk) by any stretch of the imagination. He's a good dude. But he plays his heart out though."
Bryant said the Lakers-Celtics rivalry plays into those heated exchanges.
"You know, with Danny Ainge and Kurt (Rambis) getting clothes lined (by Kevin McHale), we're the good guys," he said. "You separate the trash talk, especially from guys that you know like KG and Paul and those guys. We've known each other for a while. I love to talk. Paul likes to talk. KG likes to talk. I'm probably the only one on my team that likes to talk. So I'll probably be jawing with all of them tonight."