clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Kevin Garnett Working for Championship Swagger

The Boston Celtics took back control of their playoff series with the Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday night, hanging on for a 96-89 home win.  But why is it such a struggle for the C's to take down the Cavs?

LeBron James is a decent answer to that question, but you look at the depth of talent for Boston and the ability of that talent to produce at both ends, the C's should be rolling through this series but they can't seem to put the Cavs away. 

Kevin Garnett came up big in Game 5 with 26 points and 16 rebounds, but then again he should. I was thinking about Garnett during the fourth quarter and why he hadn't already seized this series by the throat. He should be the matchup from hell for the Cavs. Demand the ball, expose the matchup and take over. They don't just give championships to nice guys with sick talent, you still have to grab what's yours.

The feeling I have watching KG with the Celtics is similar to the pre-Super Bowl Peyton Manning. Both players have the talent, work ethic, and strong leadership ability. As the face of a franchise, no team could ask for more. One thing both PSB-Peyton and KG were/are missing is that championship swagger that comes with knowing how it feels to lift that championship trophy they want so badly. They have too much of a good thing, which includes respect for those who came before them, accountability for their every action, and a desire to be the best.

I also think there is one characteristic both PSB-Peyton and KG possess, although neither would admit it.

On top of being passionate about the game and focusing their every action on winning, there's also a part of them that seeks approval from others. They want to be recognized by peers, media, friends and foes as champions. They care about how others view them and their careers and it is subconsciously ingrained in their thought process, so even decisions made in the heat of battle go through the split-second screening of, "How will this make me look?"

While admirable on some level, this can also prevent an athlete from throwing caution to the wind in the most critical moments of a high-pressure game. Some of the greatest athletes of our time have avoided this problem and performed incredibly in pressure situations thanks to some combination of arrogance and apathy.

Michael Jordan wasn't afraid to fail with the game-winner in his hands and he also didn't care what anyone else thought when he did miss a big shot. Tom Brady and Joe Montana will never be accused of over-thinking the consequences of the big moments they orchestrated. You think Manny Ramirez cares what you think?

Again, I'm not saying that in the heat of a game PSB-Peyton and KG consciously think, "Wait if I miss this shot (throw an interception) my team will lose, everyone will criticize me, my family will feel the burden, and I'll spend the offseason reading about how I can't win the big one."  No, that's Alex Rodriguez territory.

I'm saying part of their make-up is to prepare themselves for the big moment and in doing so they are acutely aware of the stakes and the impact of the possible outcomes and they REALLY care. KG wants to be a team player, doesn't want to appear selfish. Has KG ever said, give me the ball and get out the way? Will he do it to close out the Cavs?

We love you KG! It's your time, go get it! Please. I really want watch a Pistons-Celtics Eastern Conference Final.