LOS ANGELES -- Someone stop me, because I'm about to do it again. I did it once before, and that didn't turn out so well. I'm still getting death threats from Spain over a column I wrote about Los Angeles forward Pau Gasol calling him soft. Never mind that I was right. Never mind that Lakers coach Phil Jackson -- one day after my story, mind you -- called Gasol a "weenie."
Does anyone have my back? Cover me, because here I go again:
|Dunks and layups would greatly improve Kevin Garnett's field goal percentage. (Getty Images)|
This 7-foot jump shooter? This player with so much skill and quickness and athletic ability who has decided not to use any of those qualities and instead play these NBA Finals like some hybrid of Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Wang Zhizhi?
When you watch a Celtics game on television, someone like Charles Barkley or Kenny Smith tells you that Garnett is one of the best two or three power forwards in basketball history. When you watch a Celtics game in person, you wonder why one of the best two or three power forwards in NBA history is afraid of Pau Gasol.
And Gasol is soft. If I hadn't made that clear.
Garnett is making Gasol look like Alonzo Mourning. He refuses to go at him. Simply won't do it. Garnett is longer than Gasol, quicker, stronger, more explosive. And yet he's content to stand 20 feet from the basket, juke, and hoist jumpers. It's like K.G. thinks he's M.J.
Worse than that, it's like K.G. thinks he's Dirk Nowitzki. I swear, coming into the NBA at the same time with all that foreign talent has done a number on Garnett's head. He has watched all these 7-foot giraffes from overseas come here -- guys like Nowitzki and Ilgauskas; no way he watched the crappy Wang Zhizhi -- and decided to be like them instead of become the first player like Kevin Garnett in NBA history.
There has never been a player with his size and skills. There are 7-footers who can move and jump, men like Tyson Chandler and Marcus Camby. There are 7-footers who can handle the ball, like Joakim Noah. There are lots of 7-footers who can score on the low block. But there's only one 7-footer who can do all of those things, and make those things look easy.
And Kevin Garnett refuses to do it.
You have been watching the NBA Finals, right? You have seen him attempt 62 shots from the floor in three games, most of them from college 3-point range. You have seen him make just 22. That's 35.5 percent. That's criminal for someone as big and talented as Kevin Garnett.
And you see who's guarding him for the Lakers, right? That's not Andrew Bynum. That's not even Chris Mihm. That's Pau Gasol, who can block a shot as a help defender but who cannot stop anyone from scoring on the low block.
The Celtics got away with it in Games 1 and 2. They beat the Lakers to take control of this series at 2-0, but it's difficult to give Garnett too much credit for that. Kobe Bryant was mortal in both games, and when Bryant's mortal, the Lakers are dead. Plus, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were doing some heavy lifting in Boston as well. They averaged 21.5 ppg each in those two games. With that kind of help, Garnett could afford to stand around the perimeter and chuck jumpers to his heart's content, even if he was making just 39 percent from the floor in those two games.