Kevin Garnett’s Bonds With Rajon Rondo, Boston Still Strong As Ever

BOSTON — To each his own. While Rajon Rondo napped, Kevin Garnett did some downward dog.

With another emotional return to TD Garden looming, Garnett hit the yoga studio Wednesday morning. Whereas Rondo was looking to sleep off any lingering pain in his broken left hand, Garnett was simply trying to shake the nerves that come with his return to the city he called home for six seasons.

“It’s always special to come back to Beantown,” Garnett said after his old team, the Boston Celtics, dressed down his new team, the Brooklyn Nets, 121-105 in both teams’ season opener. “Hearing the little things, it’s very hard to focus. I had to go to yoga this morning — ooh-sa — get my meditation right, stay level.

“A lot of energy in the building. It’s always great to come back here. I love Beantown. I’m always bleeding green. Y’all know what it is.”

Yet while Garnett might bleed green, he no longer wears green. Always a Celtic at heart, Garnett hasn’t been a Celtic in body since the 2013 trade that shipped him, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry to Brooklyn. The deal officially announced the beginning of a new phase in Celtics basketball — one that many assumed would not include Rondo, either.

The second season of the post-Garnett era in Boston dawned Wednesday with Rondo still in attendance and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge declaring as steadfastly as ever that he does not intend to trade the four-time All-Star point guard. If coming back to Boston tugs on Garnett’s heartstrings, seeing his beloved “little brother” still donning the No. 9 jersey just about bowls Garnett over.

He just has a funny way of showing his affection.

“It was special again going against KG,” Rondo said. “He’s like my big brother. He hit me a couple times on the pick, but he didn’t hit me as hard as he was hitting Avery (Bradley). He nails guys on the pick, and I’m used to him nailing guys for me.”

Garnett was never one to pal around with opposing players, but now in his 20th season, the list of fellow players he considers friends shrinks more each year. The youngest player on the Celtics’ roster, rookie guard James Young, was not even born when the Minnesota Timberwolves drafted Garnett out of Farragut Academy in 1995.

Chances are, Garnett won’t live up to Rondo’s prediction that he might play another two or three years. His 18-foot jump shot is as pure as ever, his passing instincts are still uncanny and his defensive positioning is instinctual. He contributed a solid 10-point, six-rebound, three-assist performance Wednesday on a night his team was far from solid as a whole. But he cannot be the dominant force over a full game like he once was, and no amount of yoga will help him make peace with being a shell of his former self.

Maybe that’s why these trips back to Boston and friends like Rondo are so special for Garnett — because he knows, in his heart, there aren’t many of them left.

Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images

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