Much is being made lately about Kevin Garnett's stunning fall from grace. Yahoo's Kelly Dwyer compared him to "an old coot." Joakim Noah said he was "a dirty player." Quentin Richardson labeled him "an actress."
Sucks getting old, right? It's obvious watching KG hobble around out there that he's a shell of his former self. Every movement is labored, every trip up and down the court filled with grimaces. The man is literally breaking down before our eyes.
But is anyone pretending that Garnett was winning any sportsmanship awards before? No, of course not. He was ALWAYS a dick (ask Anthony Peeler or Tim Duncan or anyone in the Minnesota food service industry) but he used to be an underdog dick in a small market. He used to be scrapper who wanted it more, hungry and ambitious. In that context, all of his barking, elbowing and intimidation were viewed as 'passionate' and 'fiery.'
Now that he's an old champion, these qualities make him 'dirty' and 'a coot.' Life's funny that way. So much of how we interpret things is based on our expectations. We expect KG to age gracefully. We expect him to accept his shortcomings and bow out with dignity when the very reason that we loved him in the first place was his unbridled ferocity.
When something gets old, it loses its luster. You get sick of it. You don't want to keep it around anymore. You want something new that works better. I can remember Laker fans being pissed at Kareem when he refused to retire, even though he was still pretty good. Same goes for Patrick Ewing. It was incredibly disrespectful to those legendary players but those fans wanted something new.
I could be way off base with this but it seems to me that Kevin Garnett hasn't changed a bit. He's the same guy he's always been. But because he can't get the job done on the court, he's useless to us and so there's no reason to keep forgiving his boorish behavior. A coot? Maybe. Dirty? Has been for a decade. That's just KG.
Pictured: a pose Calderon might recognize