Celtics-at-Mavs: Listening For KG Trash

Athletes talk trash. It's a socioeconomic thing, a cultural thing. Or maybe it's an ego thing or a sad sign of insecurity. Or maybe it's just funny. Kevin Garnett – a visitor for Celtics-at-Mavs – accomplished some of that by calling the Charlie Villanueva a "cancer patient.''

KG mocked Villanueva (who is bald and eyebrow-less due to alopecia universalis) by calling him a "cancer patient.'' I will not waste too much space by detailing Garnett's preposterous explanation … Garnett has released a statement terming this a "major miscommunication" and denying the accusation.

Garnett – having his PR people type up this statement while they attempted to keep a straight face – claims that what he told Villanueva while in the heat of Celtics-Bucks battle was that Charlie V is "cancerous to your team and our league."

That is completely credible to any NBA fan who is:

a) Unfamiliar with Garnett's especially twisted habit of bullying opponents why don't fight back

b) Under the impression that Kevin Garnett talks like a robot.

"I would never be insensitive to the brave struggle that cancer patients endure," Garnett said in that same fake-deep-and-robotized statement. "I have lost loved ones to this deadly disease and have a family member currently undergoing treatment. I would never say anything that distasteful."

And that's all the space I'm going to give Garnett on this. He addressed it immediately, which is good. … but he didn't address it with credulity, which is unfortunate given the two-headed coin that is Kevin Garnett.

The former MVP is, on the one hand, a model NBA player in terms of work ethic and leadership and character and talent. At 34, he's done it all. You want to know where the Mavericks' philosophy on never trading Dirk Nowitzki comes from? It comes from a belief long-held by old-timer Don Nelson and further devoted to by his son, Dallas GM Donnie Nelson.

"You never trade a Kevin Garnett-type player,'' Donnie told me a few years ago as Minnesota was planning to do just that in an awful deal with Boston. "A player and person like that comes along once in forever. You lose a player like that, it can take you a decade to ever find another one.''

The same logic is why Dallas is married to Dirk … and why Boston is a perennial title team with Garnett.

But there is the other side of the KG coin. Watch and listen closely to the loudest screamer/celebratory/"berater'' in the NBA and notice who he screams at and who he berates.

Milwaukee's Andrew Bogut, does he berate you?

"He doesn't say nothing to me,'' Bogut is quoted as saying in the Boston Globe. "We've got a little history as well. He doesn't talk smack to me. He talks more to guys he knows he can that won't do anything about it. He tried to do it my rookie year, but since then he hasn't done much to me.''

In other words, KG is a classic playground bully.

Now, let's not make this more than it is. There is an overreaction from those who think this is some sort of indicator of Garnett's lack of humanity. Not fair, because when he talks of losing loved ones to cancer, he surely speaks the truth. (By the way, join the club.) There is an equal and opposite reaction to Charlie V's revealing of this on-court exchange via Twitter, some NBA folks believing that this stuff should remain within the confines of the basketball court.

But Charlie V issued a truth in tweeting what KG said to him.

Kevin Garnett issued a sicko comment meant to get him ahead.

Which one is really an ethical misstep?

It can be argued that Villanueva is an underachiever who oughta just shut up and play. If KG feels that way, or wanted to gain a psychological advantage over Charlie, he should've said that and made fun of his too-fat $35 million contract.

Players talk. They attempt to gain advantages. They try to get under each others' skin. They try to be funny. In doing so, they often expose to us not only an opponent's soft spot, but also their own emotional and psychological foundations.

But that's only if you can hear them. Kevin Garnett didn't want us to hear him, didn't want us to know.

KG will be at the AAC tonight playing against the Mavs. He will be talking. We will be listening.

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