Rivers comes to defense of Garnett

Updated: February 8, 2011, 8:39 PM ET
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com

CHARLOTTE -- With Spike Lee the latest to call out Kevin Garnett for his on-court behavior, joining a line that grows deeper each day with opposing coaches, players and a slew of national pundits, Celtics coach Doc Rivers jumped to the defense of his star forward before Monday's game against the Bobcats.

Garnett
Garnett

"That means he's on their mind, that's fine by me," Rivers said. "Kevin does nothing wrong, he plays the game the right way. I think all these people that call him out would take him on their team right now. Other than that, I could care less about that stuff."

Lee, a celebrity Knicks fan, told ESPNNewYork.com that Garnett cursed him out "for no reason" during Boston's visit to Madison Square Garden on Dec. 15 and suggested that Garnett "needs to calm the [expletive] down."

Suns coach Alvin Gentry went on the radio last week and suggested he's lost respect for Garnett due to his antics, which included tapping Channing Frye below the belt as he released a 3-pointer (Garnett was ejected in the ensuing dustup). Lakers coach Phil Jackson jabbed Garnett about the low blow soon after.

Rivers said he was unaware of Gentry's comments, but also brushed them off.

"Actually, I didn't know Alvin said anything," Rivers said. "I'll just let Alvin talk. He seems to do that well."

Garnett picked up his team-leading eighth technical foul of the season Monday night for shoving Charlotte's Gerald Henderson less than a minute into the second half. Eduardo Najera told reporters that Garnett elbowed him in the face near the end of the game, but said he told Garnett "he hits like my grandma."

Earlier this season, the Pistons' Charlie Villanueva accused Garnett of calling him a "cancer patient" on the court, an accusation Garnett denied.

"My comment to Charlie Villanueva was in fact 'You are cancerous to your team and our league,' " Garnett said at the time. "I would never be insensitive to the brave struggle that cancer patients endure."

Rivers noted that the anger directed at Garnett could be traced to Boston's success.

"[The criticism] says that our team is pretty good," Rivers said. "When they were bad in Minnesota, you heard nothing. So that's all it is. Kevin's not going to change. Kevin's a terrific player, he plays the right way. I think all coaches would love their players to play like Kevin Garnett, to be like Kevin Garnett, and act like Kevin Garnett. I don't worry about it."

Earlier this season, in the wake of the Villanueva controversy, Garnett made no apologies for his style of play.

"I'm a passionate player," he said. "If you don't like the way I am ... I play this way the last 15, 16 years. I leave it on the court."

Chris Forsberg covers the Celtics for ESPNBoston.com.

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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