Skip to main content

How Kevin Garnett blew up Celtics practice from the sideline


The brightest stars burn out the fastest - just look at Russell Westbrook. If you only know how to drive in top gear, what do you do when your top gear runs out? It's not like there aren't signs of aging; there always are. But these guys don't accept the concept of taking it easy. Doc Rivers learned that with Kevin Garnett

Later in KG's career, Doc started to manage his workload. Most players would accept playing fewer regular-season minutes, skipping a few games. Not KG; he couldn't accept Doc sitting him during practice. 

“I can't sit out practice; they'll see me. It's a weakness; they think I'm getting old. Don't do this to me, coach; I gotta play.”

Kevin Garnett, The BS Podcast

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

Doc explained to KG he has bad knees, and he's not letting him practice. He sent Garnett to the sidelines to watch practice and brought Leon Powe into his spot. This is where KG's top gear started working. 

“He's watching them, and they're working out, and he starts mimicking everything Leon Powe does. He's on the sideline, and Leon Powe is running down the court. He starts running down the court pretending he's doing the same things. So when Leon Powe is setting a screen, he's setting a screen on an imaginary person on the sideline. Leon Powe gets a rebound; he jumps up and gets the rebound. Leon Powe runs down, and he's beating Leon Powe down the sideline. Doc's yelling at him, 'Stop it, cut it out!! I'm gonna have to stop practice!!' Garnett's ignoring him, and finally, Doc has to blow the whistle and end practice.”

Jackie MacMullan, The BS Podcast

Doc wasn't the only coach that had to deal with this. Flip Saunders would have a walkthrough about the opposing team's offense, simulating their plays. But every time the ball would come close to KG, he'd break out the play. Then Flip would tell KG to cut it out because that's not the point of the walkthrough. The next time the ball came close to KG? Same thing. 

The modern, analytics/sports science based approach would call all those jumps, cuts, and all-out plays stupid. Today's NBA is focused on optimizing the future and often forgets the present and the past. Without that attitude and intensity, KG wouldn't have been the final piece of a Championship mosaic. 

You can't just turn off a habit or an attitude you've cultivated for over a decade, particularly when that attitude was the foundation of your success. For some guys, that's the only way they know how to play.

Houston Rockets' big man Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson

"We were the original 'Twin Towers'” - Ralph Samson on playing with Hakeem Olajuwon in the Houston Rockets

Ralph Sampson looked back at his legacy with Hakeem Olajuwon as the original "Twin Towers."

JJ Redick & Phoenix Suns

JJ Redick shares what makes the Phoenix Suns an even better team and a legitimate contender this season- “I think it makes them a title contender”

Redick notes Bridges' improvements this season before saying that Bridges may be the X factor that could help the Suns emerge as title contenders this season

Charles Barkley & Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Despite not knowing his name, Charles Barkley offers a stern warning to the public if Shai Gilgeous-Alexander isn’t an All-Star starter this season

Barkley said SGA should be an All-Star starter, but couldn't manage to say his name correctly, and hilariously referred to him as Shai Alexander Gilchrist in the process

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant and Cleveland Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert

"You always calling for a ball screen, f*ck all that" - Iman Shumpert discusses his on-court battles with Kevin Durant

Iman Shumpert reveals Kevin Durant was the hardest player he had to guard in his career

Larry Bird

"It makes me sick to my stomach" - Larry Bird on tanking in the NBA

If Larry Legend knew his team was tanking, he would've left it outright.

Chicago Bulls forward Toni Kukoc

"I knew when I'd come here I am going to be this rookie kid that carries bags" - Toni Kukoc on how European players felt criticized coming into the NBA

His European basketball legacy may have not mattered in the NBA, but for Kukoc, he was still the "Croatian Sensation"