Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri seems like a smart guy, so you would think he would know better than to add a little fuel to Kevin Garnett’s postseason fire.
It’s been nearly a week since Ujiri took a shot at the Nets with his “F--- Brooklyn” remarks at a pep rally prior to Game 1 of the series. As the matchup shifts to Brooklyn tonight for a pivotal Game 3, Garnett made sure at yesterday's practice that Ujiri’s comments are still fresh in everyone’s mind. (Via the New York Daily News)
“I’m very eager to see how (the home crowd) responds to the ‘F---- Brooklyn,’ ” Garnett said on Thursday, unprompted by any previous reference to Raptors GM Masai Ujiri. “Very eager to see how they respond to this kid (Ujiri) sitting in our arena...I never had a series in Brooklyn before, I never said ‘F--- Brooklyn’ before, so we’re about to see what it’s like.”
Garnett may no longer play for the Celtics, but this kind of intensity is exactly why he was and will always be so beloved in Boston. He relishes any chance to add to his sky-high motivation level, something we saw first hand back in 2012.
Atlanta’s co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. called out the Celtics and Garnett prior to Game 6 of the a first round series back in 2012 with some pretty pointed remarks about the big man.
“Last night, we are playing this old physical team,” Gearon Jr. said after Game 5 while complaining about the officiating. “They are old. I know what happens when you play basketball, old guys foul. [Kevin] Garnett is the dirtiest guy in the league. We are playing Boston last night and they had two fouls the whole first half. We had five times that and we're athletic."
Garnett responded by scoring 28 points and 14 rebounds in Game 6, helping the Celtics win the game 83-80 and the series by a 4-2 margin. It was an inspiring effort from the veteran, who left no doubt after the game about the effect the owner’s comments had on his play in the postgame press conference.
Two years later, the 37-year-old big man is averaging a meager 19.5 minutes per game for the Brooklyn Nets so far this postseason. He could be playing the final games of his NBA career in the next couple weeks, as he’s battled to remain healthy all year long.
While his team has changed, there is still no question that Garnett’s passion and leadership have remained intact, and his impact on the Nets’ locker room this year has been a major factor in the team’s resurgence through early season turmoil.
Now, Garnett is using that same leadership to rile up a Brooklyn fanbase getting their first taste of the postseason Friday night. Brooklyn fans aren’t really known for being an intimidating crowd so it’s no surprise Garnett is giving them a little pep talk. It’s safe to say Celtics fans wouldn’t need to be riled up had Ujiri made the same kind remarks about Boston.
Garnett will be at the top of his game for Game 3 and we’ll find out if the Brooklyn fans can step up to the challenge as well.