Commentary

Kevin Garnett is 'revived' and ready

Celtics veteran says the knee is fine and he's improved his post game

Updated: October 3, 2010, 9:16 AM ET
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com

NEWPORT, R.I. -- When Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett spoke to the media for the first time since his team's Game 7 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, the question had to be asked: How's your knee feeling?

"I have a lot more confidence in my leg and my body," Garnett said at Monday's Media Day in Waltham, Mass. "I feel a lot better; I'm eager to start camp."

Garnett spoke to reporters three more times during Boston's five days at camp this week and, without fail, the question came up again. Each time, those assigned to the team on a daily basis cringed ever so slightly, waiting for a potential outburst. But Garnett politely fielded all inquiries, including one Saturday as camp wrapped up at the Rodgers Recreation Center on the campus of Salve Regina University.

[+] EnlargeKevin Garnett
Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty ImagesKevin Garnett was highly praised by coach Doc Rivers for his improved play and higher confidence.

"It's a new year," said Garnett. "Over the summer, rest is always good. I'm just excited about this year. I'm not really keying on myself, I'm just trying to make the other guys better on this team. I'm revived."

Garnett underwent right knee arthroscopy and removal of posterior knee bone spurs on May 25, 2009. One year, four months and eight days have passed since then, a total of 495 days overall.

In that span, coach Doc Rivers has fielded roughly 495 inquiries about Garnett's health. Indeed, Garnett labored through much of the 2009-10 season, looking particularly unsure of his own abilities after returning from a hyperextension of the same knee earlier this calendar year.

When questions began cropping up on a near daily basis about his health, Garnett quickly declared the topic off limits, feeling there was little he could add. After all, the answer was obvious in watching him play. If a reporter tried to sneak in a knee inquest, it had potential to short-circuit the interview.

But the catchphrase ever since Boston fell six minutes shy of a world title in June has been how much better Garnett will be this year, even further removed from surgery.

So it's no surprise the question returned this fall. But it's safe to assume it won't become a daily topic of conversation. At least not with Garnett.

Then again, Rivers and Garnett's teammates haven't exactly helped smother the question by openly gushing about what they've seen from the Big Ticket so far this preseason. In a time when everything is overly optimistic, they've found a way to seem even more utopian about Garnett's potential for the new season.

"He looked great today," Rivers said Saturday, noting that he wished Garnett would simply take more breaks from practice. Then came the real verbal bouquets.

"At one point, he looked un-guardable. We were laughing with him today saying if we had the post game he gave today all year last year, then we'd have been a remarkable basketball team. That's where you can finally see the confidence part. Last year, I don't think he ever had confidence to go back [to the post]. He didn't go to the post as much and it was more because he didn't like it down there.

"This year, he wants the ball down there and he's being effective. We thought about trapping him today, which we never do, but it got to the point where we said, 'Hey, if he can have a game like he did today, we're going to be really good.'"

Rivers wasn't done.

"I think he's fresher. He's more confident. I thought he knew he could play last year, but I never thought he was confident in his play because of his body. And he was still great for us. Now he has the confidence. He's leaving the floor, he's aggressive on the post. He's calling post plays for himself now. That's big for us."

Especially since the Celtics essentially didn't have a post game last season. Rivers fully admitted that, outside of Garnett taking advantage of a matchup against Antawn Jamison during an Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Celtics didn't have an inside game to work with.

"I don't believe you can win that way in the long run," said Rivers. "We almost proved that wrong, but overall, you can't win that way, not us."

The Celtics believe they have a post game now because of the revived Garnett. And that makes this team believe -- maybe even more than it already did -- that it can win a title this season.

Garnett said Saturday he's got added motivation, but suggests it's got more to do with the Game 7 loss to the Lakers than anything else, even if it's obvious he wants to show that last season he wasn't himself because of the knee.

"Obviously, I've got a little chip on my shoulder because of Game 7 and all that," said Garnett. "That's gonna sorta motivate me throughout the year. ... I'm eager, man."

Eager to show he can still be one of the most dominant players in the game. Eager to win another world title. Eager to make all those questions about his knee disappear by accomplishing both of those feats.

Chris Forsberg is the Celtics reporter for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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