It’s been mostly all smiles for the Boston Celtics during the early stages of the 2010-2011 NBA season. Shaq’s in town lightening the mood, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce continue to do what they’ve done for years, Rajon Rondo still looks like one of the most unstoppable forces in the game with the ball in his hands, and perhaps most importantly, Kevin Garnett is healthy again. The Celtics are 9-2, the best mark in the Eastern Conference, and they’ve handled the Miami Heat in both of their early season meetings. With New Jersey in second place in the Atlantic Division, the Celtics may just have their division wrapped up by March.
Garnett joined WEEI in Boston to talk about still laughing every time he sees Gino play on the Jumbotron at Celtics’ home games, the effect Shaq has had on the locker room, how he’s tried to not let his focus and concentration wane too much with Shaq in town, just how much difference being healthy has made this season compared to last year, how he’s not allowed the Charlie Villanueva Twitter blowup to affect his intensity on the court, and how people like Villanueva trying to get attention through a medium like Twitter are a sad indictment on where the game and society is heading.
On still getting a laugh and kick out of seeing Gino playing on the Jumbotron every time it occurs during home games:
“It’s like a good T.V. show. Gino’s one of the things I look forward to. The thing I know about Gino is when Gino’s on the screen, I know I’m not going back in the game. I get to relax. And it’s very rare that I get to actually enjoy some of the festivities of during the game. You know, the little kids dance, the countless different people they put on the Jumbotron. You know a lot of times I’m locked in and don’t get a chance to actually enjoy some of the things that come with the games. So when I get a chance to sit back and relax I like to do that.”
On Shaq’s easy-going presence and if he thinks that’s had much of an effect on him:
“Unfortunately, I do. I don’t like my mood to be lightened too much, man. I like to have an edge. When I take the floor, I like to be a certain way. I don’t do well when I’m giddy and kind of light. I do well when I’m dark and sort of concentrated. When I’m locked in, I look at myself as a threat. I don’t want to be too lighthearted when I go out there. Shaq is the opposite. He likes things light. He likes to keep you laughing. He likes the mood to be light. I think from Doc’s perspective — or anybody’s perspective — they tend to think that I’m too intense at times. And I can understand that. But hey, man, this is my makeup. This is who I am. This is what I’ve been for a long time. It’s gotten me to this point. Like anybody else’s personality it’s who they are. This is my makeup. This is who I am.”
On just how much difference being healthy has made to his game this year copared to in 2009-2010:
“Rest is everything. And being healthy is another thing. I don’t like speaking about my own personal health, because everybody in the league has something they’re dealing with, and I was no different from it. Obviously, you can see the difference in the play. I have a little pep in my step, I’ve got a little bounce in my hop. And it feels good. A lot of times last year I was playing sub-par guys, man, and they were getting by me, doing different things to where I knew that if I was 100 percent, no way that some of those things were happening. To be honest, I’m blessed. It’s something I have to deal with every day. But you can see the difference. You can see the difference. The confidence is there. When you get hurt — one of the things I’ve never had to battle was dealing with health issues to where it damages and messes with your confidence. I’m a very confident person. I would be lying if I said it didn’t test me. But it made me a stronger person mentally. The things you can do when you’re hurt, and the things you don’t think you can do and still be able to accomplish things, still be able to be a force. You know, I played a ton in the later part of the year just beat up, but I ground through it and figured out a way to get through it. I’m just a lot more appreciative than years past.”
On if all of the flap about the Charlie Villanueva Twitter incident affected him:
“Nah, it didn’t affect me. Obviously, if anything, it motivated me. But it was just kind of sad of just where we are in society, and even in the game, man. First off, the false statement which he was citing. Dude knew what I said to him. I’m not going to get back into it and bring it up, because you know what? I’m not speaking to nobodies these days. I’m not fitting to address nobodies. I’m not about to give nobodies any kind of energy or any kind of legs to run on. It was just one thing that I had to deal with that day. We all have to deal with different things every day. I had to pile that on to my list to deal with. You know what? It was sad. It’s just sad where we are in society, man, I don’t know, with being private. It’s sad to see where the game’s going, man. Like, if you and I are on the court or we’re outside on the blacktop and we’re chopping it up, we’re just going at it, and you say what you say, I say what I say. To me, where I’m from, that’s called trash-talking. That’s two guys bumping heads. End of story. Every night you deal with it. Every night you go against a guy, even if you’re in practice, it don’t even matter, man. I trash talk with guys who don’t even play basketball. But to sit here and make up pointless things just to get — what do you call that, followers? I don’t even know what Twitter is. Shaq had to break it down to me. To get followers, or to get people to hear you, because you’re not heard. Well, there’s a reason people don’t hear you. There’s a reason people don’t follow you. Those things. The things that people are doing to get attention these days. And then on top of that, no one checks facts anymore. You can just say whatever you want to say, and then it’s reality. Which is absurd to me. So, you know what? What you’ve been seeing is a more composed, more, ‘Let me just lock in.’ I’m not really dealing with nobody these days. I’m trying to focus on what I’ve got to do and sort of stay in my lane, so to speak.”