Garnett, Drogba cross paths

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Found a nice little feature here in The Sun, where Chelsea footballer Didier Drogba interviewed Celtics forward Kevin Garnett.

The interview starts with both athletes predicting whether or not their team will end up in first place after the season:

Kevin Garnett: You already know the answer to this. We’re not going to say we’re going to finish anything less than number one and I’m sure Didier would concur.

Didier Drogba: I second that. It’s a good challenge for us because we’re top of the league and we want to stay at the top of the league until the end of the season. But the Champions League is something we’re really fighting for. I think this is Chelsea’s season and we are going to do it.

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We drew 1-1 on Sunday and, at the moment, things are a bit difficult for us but we’re still top and we’re going to try and stay there.

KG: I saw that result. We play three of four games a week in the NBA but we have Saturday or Sunday off so I get to catch your games at different times.

DD: Playing that many games, how do you prepare yourself for them? Do you have personal trainers and physios you work with? We’re starting to see that in football now.

KG: When we have days off, I like to do some shooting, make sure I’m sharp, but I get a lot of rest, massages, make sure my body is up to par.

DD: You had a bad knee injury last year, how is it now?

KG: It’s 100 per cent. That was the first surgery of my career so I’ve had to learn to be patient with my recovery but this is my 15th year in the NBA so I’ve still got plenty of old aches. How long have you been playing?

DD: All my life, but on a professional team since I was 18 or 19.

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First I was in France and now, for the last six years, I have been in England. And injuries are something I know about, I have had a lot of them. Last year it was my knee.
In football, we play so many games, every three days. Then during the summer, we go back to Africa to play qualifiers so there is no rest.
Injuries are part of the job and, when you are out, you look at things differently. You learn to be more patient and come back stronger.
KG: Yeh, all that stuff plays a part. But at least we play for eight or nine months, then get the rest of the year off. You guys get, what, two weeks off?
DD: Yes. For example, after the World Cup next summer, I will have two weeks off. When I first signed for Chelsea, I had had ten days off, then you start the season and get injured and people don’t understand, they say “He’s no good, he’s not this, he’s not that.”
KG: That’s crazy. The body needs time to recover. If our teams don’t make the play-offs, they can have six months off. Imagine that!
DD: Yes, it’s important for athletes to have time to recover in the summer. Every time I’ve had a good season it is because I have had a month off in the summer. So, when I come back, I’m fresh, feeling strong.
KG: You guys play so many games, with all your exhibition games. The first time I met you, Chelsea were in LA playing exhibition games and I was up there in the stands with my Chelsea shirt on.
DD: I need to get you a new one…
KG: There’s no need. I was sent one, I’ve got my Chelsea hat, my Chelsea scarf. You need to know, every time I watch the games on TV, I’m sitting there wearing them. We have a lot of Chelsea fans here at the Celtics.
DD: There are a lot of NBA fans here in London, too. In fact, there is talk of the NBA having a team in London. Do you think that might happen?
KG: I think it would be cool. It would definitely make the league bigger in terms of its worldwide presence and it would broaden our horizons. We have good fans here in the US but soccer, sorry football, fans in Europe are real die-hard fans, they live and breathe football and I’d love to open up the league to that whole new aspect of fans.
DD: The NBA is especially big in places like France…
KG: That’s why I think at some point the NBA will have a team in London, one in France, definitely one in Spain, Italy maybe. The game has the potential to be really world-wide, like football.
DD: Talking of world-wide, how do you think the USA will do against England in the World Cup next summer?
KG: I’m definitely coming to South Africa for the World Cup and I’ll be cheering us on. We’re catching up but I don’t know how good they are, that remains to be seen. What do you think of US soccer? You probably all laugh at us!
DD: No, you have a lot of good players here now in the Premier League.
The Premier League is like the NBA. If you are a basketball player from France or Germany or Spain, everyone wants to come and play in your league. Here, it is the same. Everyone wants to play in the Premier League.
KG: And how do you think you guys, the Ivory Coast, will go at the World Cup?
DD: The World Cup will be tough. You saw the draw? We have Brazil, Portugal and North Korea.
That’s very tough but the good thing is we have improved from the last World Cup and we have a lot of players now who are playing on big teams in Europe and winning big trophies. We have a difficult job against Brazil and Portugal but, in Africa, I think we can do something.
KG: I can’t wait for the World Cup, the passion for football around the world is just so crazy.
DD: That’s right. When I was younger, we were playing football in the streets. We would find something, anything, that looked like a ball and play five-on-five, we’d just play and play. It’s crazy, the passion for football in places like that.
KG: Well, I hope if you have time after your season is over you get chance to come over and see the passion for basketball that fans have in Boston.
DD: That will be difficult because, after the season, we have training camp with Ivory Coast before the World Cup.
KG: Well, if that doesn’t work out, I hope our paths cross one day soon. Until then, I wish you all the best of luck, stay healthy!

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