|Photo: Barry Chin (Boston Globe)
Rondo was the only player left from the 2008 Celtics championship team before he was traded last week to Dallas. And Garnett admitted that seeing a Rondo-less Celtics team was a bit odd.
"Very weird," Garnett said after Brooklyn's 109-107 win over Boston. "I just saw Ed Lacerte (Celtics trainer) in the locker room and told him it was kind of bittersweet. Obviously, I've been contacting Rondo since just for his well-being, kind of staying in touch with all the guys. Obviously, we all stay in touch. I'm just glad everything worked out."Garnett was asked if he was surprised when he found out that Rondo was dealt.
"A little bit," Garnett responded. "But nothing surprises me after Michael Jordan moved to different teams, (Shaquille O'Neal) moving to different teams, players in history going to different teams. I guess at that point, it's just a matter of when and where."Rondo of course joined a good team in Dallas that is much more talented than the Celtics. And Garnett expects his former point guard to be great as a member of the Mavericks.
"I expect him to be himself," Garnett said. "Obviously he has other players with more of a firm base, more of a championship base around him. I see him adapting to that, no problem. I see him getting up on 'D' like old times; talking, being himself. I expect great things out of him. I wish him the best."Rookie Marcus Smart, who was the Celtics starting point guard for only the second time this season, received some praise from the future Hall-of-Famer. While fighting for a loose ball, Garnett and Smart got tangled up in yesterday's matinee, Smart not only won the battle for the loose ball but also threw an overhead assist to Jeff Green for a dunk.
|Photo: Barry Chin (Boston Globe)
"I admire the guy," Garnett said. "I admire the young guy for how hard he plays. They brought him in here and Danny (Ainge) knows talent; just a good hustle play. A little pat on the back, 'good play.' Nothing more, nothing less than that."It's not everyday Garnett praises a rookie, especially someone who isn't on his team. But if there's anyone in the league who appreciates hustle, and hard work it's Garnett. There isn't a player in the league who tries harder than him.
Smart recognized the value of Kevin's kind gesture on the floor after the two battled for the loose ball.
"It means a lot coming from him," Smart said. "Especially the way he intimidates a lot of guys. It just shows that I'm earning his respect; not just him but a lot of guys around this league."There's a good chance that Garnett has played his final game at TD Garden. Garnett played six seasons in Boston, brought the city an NBA title, and will always be a fan favorite. Before the game, he went through his pregame ritual of saluting both sides of the arena and it felt like old times. The good old days.
"It's always love here. It's always appreciation that I can never give back except saluting," Garnett said. "Winning is infinite and I'll always have that special relationship with this city."His contract expires after this season, and although he wouldn't admit if he's retiring at the end of the season, he did say he will consider walking away.
"I'd like to say I [look at] each year on its own and assess it at the end of that," he said. "I take everything with appreciation, not to say I didn't before, but more than ever when you're on your last days.
"At this stage, when you know that things are not taken for granted, but more appreciated. It [retirement] crossed there [the mind]. Wouldn't lie about that."If the right situation presents itself, don't be surprised if you see Garnett sign a one-year deal to a championship contender next season. His numbers have declined considerably, but he's still a 8 points and 8 rebounds in 18 minutes type-of-player who can provide quality minutes off the bench, especially in the playoffs.
Championship contending teams can always use a player like KG in the playoffs. But that of course will depend on how he feels next summer. He's not the type of player who will sign with a club if he doesn't feel like he can give it everything he's got.
Whether we see KG again or not, he will always be considered one of the greatest players to wear green and white. And one day, down the road, just like the 2008 championship banner that he helped bring, Garnett's number will hang from above the parquet; forever cementing his legacy in Boston.