Over the past few days, videos of Kevin Garnett’s preseason workouts with the Celtics have begun to surface on the Internet. And it doesn’t take a medical expert to realize that KG, who turned 33 last spring and has been recovering from a knee strain ever since, is not 100 percent healthy.
Watch the man. Clearly, something is wrong here. He has the same great instincts he’s always had — his basketball IQ is through the roof, his passes are crisp, his shots are smart — but physically, he’s not the same. Garnett has been limping up and down the floor in practice this past week, and for anyone who cares about the Celtics, it’s getting hard not to be concerned.
Garnett’s knee has been an issue for eight months now. The problem first arose on Feb. 19 in Utah — Garnett suffered the knee strain late in the second quarter of a 90-85 loss to the Jazz and did not return. He came back for four games in March, played limited minutes and then shut things down for good. He underwent surgery for the first time in his career and hasn’t played a meaningful game since.
Now, he says he’s back. At the C’s preseason media day last week, Doc Rivers told the press that “there are no medical restrictions on any player,” and Garnett referred to himself as “almost 100 percent going forward.” If this is true, then the Celtics are back to full strength — they’re the same team that won 19 in a row last fall, starting the season 27-2.
But what if it’s not?
The evidence is undeniable. You watch the videos of Garnett hobbling around the floor, and it’s clear that something is amiss. Garnett is 33, and he’s logged plenty of minutes in his career — 39,635 of them, to be exact — and that mileage naturally puts a lot of wear and tear on the knees. But this is more than that.
Garnett doesn’t look right, and the Celtics need a fully healthy power forward to be the team that won a title two seasons ago. The C’s thrive when KG is able to move about the floor at will. They want him on the elbow, putting up mid-range jumpers. They want him in the paint, getting key rebounds. They want him all over the floor, guarding the best player on any given team, any given night. Until Garnett gets to that point, the Celtics will never be the same.
Maybe Garnett is reaching that point; maybe he’s not. The truth is that he’s too tough a competitor to say anything one way or the other. He’s got too big an ego to come right out and admit when something’s wrong.
On the surface, nothing is wrong. Garnett is fine — brazenly, emphatically fine.
“I don’t have any knee problems,” he told the Boston Globe on Saturday. “I’m not trying to get in depth with my injury and all that, but the things [that] are bothering me are secondary and not even primary.”
As far as any hobbling or limping that’s going on, Garnett simply isn’t saying a word. To him, the problem doesn’t exist. Limping? What limping?
“I feel really good,” Garnett said to the Globe. “I wouldn’t [BS] you guys if I was hurting. I would tell you. I’m pretty straight-up with everything that’s going on with me. I feel good.”
Maybe he’s telling the truth. But if he’s not, the Celtics can only hope that come November, Garnett is healthy again.
Whether he feels good now isn’t the real issue. But when it comes time for the games that really count, the Celtics need a healthy Kevin Garnett. On and off the floor, he brings the heart and soul to this basketball team — now, let’s just see if he can bring two good knees.