The story of the game was Kevin Garnett’s matchup with Joakim Noah, but Garnett’s postgame press conference was all about self-reflection. Garnett was truly engaging with the media tonight, talking about — among other things — how he finally feels like he can do the things he wants to on the court.
“I’m healthy,” said Garnett. “The docs knows my history. People in this room, they’re family, they know what I’ve been dealing with. I don’t like a sob story. Everybody deals with it. The league is full of guys who are dealing with it. I’m healthy, I’m feeling fresh. I’m revived a little bit.”
To his credit, Garnett did not perpetuate a sob story last season. It was obvious something wasn’t quite right, but neither Garnett nor his teammates blamed on it KG being injured. The difference this season is obvious, and 17 rebounds tells you all you need to know about this year’s version of Kevin Garnett.
“KG looked like the ’95-’96 version,” said Shaquille O’Neal.
Garnett seems to be getting higher on everything, from rebounds to alley-oops to turnaround jump shots. On one shot tonight, Garnett elevated over Carlos Boozer, then elevated even more over the helping arms of Noah and dropped in a hook over both players.
“I just know I feel fairly well, said Garnett. “I’m not paying attention to how high I’m jumping, or laterally, how I’m moving. I just know that when I’m moving I’m not in so much pain. It’s not some written formula or something that I’ve got. I’m just out here hoopin.”
Said Doc Rivers, ” Last year, the ball went ‘there,’ and Kevin couldn’t get there to get it. Now he can. And that’s huge for us.”
Garnett did, of course, mention his matchup with Noah when asked. Garnett and Noah did not shake hands before the game, despite KG shaking hands with every other Bulls player.
“I’m going to tell you something about people, man,” said Garnett. “Everybody has an opinion, and obviously, he had one. I’m not entertaining nor addressing nobodies. I’m not even entertaining them. I’m focused on basketball and these wins and trying to make this team better. Other than that, I’m not on anything”
But Garnett didn’t let negativity ruin his night. He was unusually upbeat, addressing his changed demeanor and even the potential end of his career with glee.
“We have a real vibrant team and I love our team,” he said. “I don’t like it, I love our team. I love our guys and this is the first time in a long time I’ve allowed myself to actually enjoy them. But I do have a certain way and a certain style that I like to be when I hit the court. Shaq gets a smile out of me very now and then, but for the most part I’m still me. At some point, especially with the lockout coming up, who knows if this is my last year or if we don’t play next year what it’s going to be. So I’m trying to enjoy the guys now, you know.”
“You know I didn’t play well tonight,” said Noah. “He got the win again, so hopefully we’ll get a win next time”