Heat expect extra intensity from Garnett

BY foxsports • February 12, 2011


Heat Writer
Feb. 12, 2011

Expect Boston forward Kevin Garnett to be at his competitive best at 1 p.m. Sunday when the Celtics host the Heat. That means KG will definitely be nasty, and he might be flat-out dirty. It seems Garnett's reputation runs the gamut nowadays.

Lately, Garnett, a no-brainer first-ballot Hall of Fame selection, has been accused of being unsportsmanlike at the very least, and downright classless in other instances.

This season alone Detroit forward Charlie Villanueva, Phoenix forward Channing Frye and Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry have spoken out against Garnett.

Even Spike Lee, the noted New York Knicks fan and entertainment mogul, has jumped on the anti-Garnett bandwagon, saying the Celtics forward "needs to calm the (expletive) down." Lee recently told ESPN he had a profanity-laced incident with Garnett in December when the Celtics visited Madison Square Garden.

Not even one of the Heat's big men said he considers Garnett dirty. They said he's just intense, and, yeah, he often yaps a lot. Coach Erik Spoelstra acknowledged those characteristics and spoke glowingly of Garnett's Hall of Fame intensity.

"He's a complete player, and he's proven himself as a champion," Spoelstra said. "We want what he's already achieved."

Still, it's worth keeping an eye on Garnett on Sunday.

Two notable incidents come to mind from this season. Garnett allegedly told Villanueva, who suffers from alopecia, a disease that results in hair loss, that he looks like a cancer patient. Villanueva first made the allegation via Twitter. Garnett has vehemently denied the charge.

The incident that can't be denied (it was caught on video) was Garnett punching Frye below the belt as Frye was shooting a jump shot. Garnett was ejected from the Jan. 29 game.

On a blog entry for his shoe company, Anta, Garnett responded by saying, "I never apologize for my actions, as I play with passion." Garnett added he was ejected for talking too much to the referee, not the low blow.

Regardless, Gentry said he lost respect for Garnett after that incident.

The response from Spoelstra regarding Garnett, right now, anyway, is 180 degrees different. It remains admiration for a player with the heart of a champion.

"If we can earn that," Spoelstra said of an NBA title, "I hope we would defend it with the same type of intensity."

Sunday is a big game. Boston lost to the Lakers on Thursday. It won't want to lose to the Heat and Lakers back-to-back. The Celtics (38-14), who trail the Heat (39-14) by a half-game for first place in the Eastern Conference, will fight hard for this victory. So will Garnett. It'll be interesting to see which version of Garnett shows up.

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