Is Kevin Garnett The New Curt Schilling? Yes, But That's Not A Compliment

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Is Kevin Garnett The New Curt Schilling? Yes, But That's Not A Compliment

Over at the great Boston Celtics site Red’s Army, there was an article yesterday that piqued my interest. A Celtics fan wondered aloud whether Kevin Garnett is the new Curt Schilling. And when you think about it, it’s really the perfect analogy for Kevin Garnett over the past few years.

One of this generation's most beloved superstars has become insufferable. He's a caricature of himself, barking incessantly for the cameras, simply because that's all he can do anymore.

Garnett may look like the complete opposite of Curt Schilling, but his career's evolved exactly the same way. Both men were great, great players that adopted these terribly grating personas over time.

Except that... Red's Army was talking about his skills on the basketball court? This is awkward:

Late in his career, Curt Schilling realized he wasn’t the same top of the rotation ace who could bust batters inside with 95 mile-per-hour fastballs, then make them chase nasty splitters in the dirt.  2,800-plus innings over 16 Major League seasons had taken a toll on his body (not that it was a heralded physique to begin with) and he needed to realize the same approach wasn’t going to get batters out anymore. So he dialed back one tick, mixed in a changeup and a curveball, and relied on his best assets: control and knowledge.


Could Garnett be turning the corner? Recently, KG went up for an ‘oop. Instead of trying to slam it in and getting rejected by the rim (common this season), he finger-rolled it in for an easy two points. That single finger roll indicated that, maybe, this Garnett we’ve been seeing the past few weeks is a savvier, more grounded player. A player who is now realistic, who knows his limitations and must adjust to his aging body in order to get 100 percent out of whatever’s left.

Excuse me while I enter the mind of a Boston sports fan...

That layup he made on that alley-oop one time? Yeah, KG is totally BACK! Or turning the corner, at least. Rounding third, if you will. Dave Roberts, ignoring the stop sign from Sveum back in '04.

Listen up kids: KG is no Keith Foulke and Big Baby is no Johnny Papelbon. Rick Pitino is not walking through that door to say that Kevin Garnett is not walking through that door. He's not a ghost yet.

Let's break it down for the simpletons in the crowd. KG's lost his fastball just like Schil back in '06, but he’s switching to offspeed stuff. Shooting lay-ups instead of dunks. It's all the same when you think about it. Sawx Nation. Pitchers. Catchers. Dunkin Donuts. And Kevin Garnett. It's all connected.


And now, leaving the mind of a Boston sports fan...

The argument made at Red's Army may encompass slightly more nuance than my Boston sports psychology would allow for, but it's still completely ridiculous. Kevin Garnett is playing basketball with bad, constantly sore, perenially strained, and altogether disastrous knees. His knees are like the city of Detroit. Barren and beaten to death. You can't just "go offspeed" to offset that kind of handicap. Garnett is D-O-N-E, no matter what Celtics fans say.

But forget the basketball analysis. The analogy itself was brilliant.

Garnett IS the new Curt Schilling. Overrated, injury-prone, and self-indulgent. A superstar in name and attitude alone. Kevin Garnett has become an ornament for the Boston Celtics, much the way Schilling's bloody sock carried his Red Sox reputation throughout his final seasons in Boston. These men are Grit and Winning personified, at least in the mind of fools and sports networks. And God they're annoying.

For his part, Schilling long ago annointed himself as the unofficial moral compass of baseball and beyond, opining on everything from steroids to global warming. He even floated the idea that he may one day run for political office. As if we don't get enough of this guy's opinions... During his last season with the Red Sox, when he was hurt for nearly the entire season, that's all we got. Just Schilling, all year long, inserting himself into situations that had nothing to do with him, talking about clubhouse chemistry, and generally just being a walking soundbyte, selling himself to whoever would listen.

As for Garnett, he's not quite as annoying as Schilling, but considering how enjoyable he used to be, his behavior's just as disturbing. KG has always been passionate, but lately, it's like he's decided that under any and all circumstances, he's going to be the loudest, most intense-looking person within a ten mile radius. It was cool when we saw his raw emotion after he won the title, but now it's become his schtick. This is how Kevin Garnett wants to be known: The most passionate, fiery, INTENSE player in history.

This newfound identiy means he's scowling for 90% of his time on camera, talking trash from the bench, and generally just psyched out of his skull at all times. Whether it's genuine is irrelevant at this point. Who wants to deal with a guy that's constantly screaming and scowling all the time?

It's just "what he does" now. It's all he does. Like Schilling in that final season with the Red Sox.

Kevin Garnett, the Hall of Famer and perennial top five player, is not coming back. There's not going to be any Curt Schilling-type renaissance in the 11th hour for KG. But it's too bad that while we watch his demise, he's making it impossible to be sentimental, as he screams and scowls his way to third seed in the Eastern Conference and a second round exit in the playoffs.

The bright side? Just as Schilling's antics ultimately made the rest of Boston fans cherish Pedro Martinez even more--even as Pedro went elsewhere--Garnett's melodramatic act only serves to heighten the appreciation for what true Celtics fans already know. Kevin Garnett may make for the best photo ops and soundbytes, but Paul Pierce is the heart and soul of that team, and he always will be. Paul Pierce is the Celtics' Pedro, and Garnett's just Curt Schilling, the chest-pounding, grandstanding transplant.

A transplant that put the Celtics over the top, yes. But can he please stop yelling like an idiot?


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