When it comes to NBA tough guys and "bad boys," Kevin Garnett is usually regarded as one of the best in the business. Throughout his 22-year career, and especially during his tenure in Minnesota, he gave off a sort-of enforcer vibe that really helped earn him a lot of respect from the community.
Still, not everyone was convinced. In an article by former NBA power forward Kenyon Martin, he described KG's tough guy as something like a facade and even detailed the time he told it to him straight to his face.
I played against guys who were physical and who really wanted the smoke. Derrick Coleman didn’t take shit from nobody. I faced guys like Zach Randolph, David West, Antonio Davis, Dale Davis and Kurt Thomas. They didn’t back down and I had a lot of respect for those guys.
You can’t turn a porch dog into a guard dog, and there a lot of poodles in the NBA right now.
There were some guys like that back when I played, too. Kevin Garnett was a porch puppy -- a miniature chihuahua in a Dobermann’s body. I told him to his face, “You’re a porch puppy. All you do is bark.” He never wanted smoke from me. I told him straight up, “You better take your ass back to your huddle before I get mad.” Dahntay Jones heard it; you can ask him.
Apparently, KG may not have been as bold as he let on to be. Sadly, that sort of thing is becoming pretty common in today's NBA, as Martin illustrates in his article.
I haven’t won every fight that I’ve been in. I’m not going to lie and say that I have. But unlike a lot of basketball players: I’m always willing to go there. A lot of these dudes ain’t.
Unfortunately, I think the game is only going to get softer and less physical going forward because the next generation -- the up-and-coming players -- are watching the league now and seeing this style of play and how the games are called, so they’ll learn from that and adjust accordingly.
I’m just glad this shift didn’t happen during my playing days. I was looked at as a defender, a tough guy, an enforcer type, so who knows how my career goes if I’m playing in this era.
Whatever your opinion of Martin, or KG, or today's era of NBA basketball, it's easy to admit that there is something about physicality, toughness, and a no-nonsense attitude that adds to the game of basketball.
Perhaps it's time to inject a little more of that into the upcoming season.
As for Garnett, he has yet to comment on the blow, but something tells me he'll have a different perspective on things.