September 13, 2007
Garnett embraces role as chemistry teacher
Gabe Pruitt and Glen Davis, dutiful rookies that they are, were in the locker room getting ready for informal workouts yesterday morning when the biggest ray of sunshine either had ever witnessed broke through the door.
``Let's go,'' said Kevin Garnett, who, unlike some NBA A-listers, doesn't believe in staying home when the workouts aren't mandatory.
Some youngsters still remain on the Celtics' radically changed roster, and Garnett hasn't been shy about reaching out.
``What he was saying to the others is, `It's another great day,' '' said the man who may be having the best time of all so far, Celtics coach Doc Rivers.
Like fellow stars Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, Garnett has quietly become a frequent sight at the Celtics' training facility over the last month.
Quietly, as in keeping a low public profile, anyway.
Once safely inside the gym, however, the revived Garnett has become a cross between Mr. Warmth and a gung-ho Marine.
``He has a way about him of just being very optimistic and bringing a lot of energy to a situation,'' said executive director of basketball operations Danny Ainge. ``It's a very contagious quality. Our coaches can feel it from the way he has interacted and communicated with them, and the other players can obviously sense it, too.
``There are people like this in the world, but not a lot of them that you can bring into your own setting.''
A world more is expected, of course.
Garnett was the first to bring up the issue of chemistry during his introductory press conference back on July 31.
``I try to instill confidence in everybody around me, and sometimes it gets hard, but what's refreshing about this whole panel up here is knowing that each and every night I have an above-average chance to win,'' he said at the time, sitting next to Allen and Pierce. ``We know that gelling and chemistry is a big part of this.''
If early impressions count for anything, then Garnett, like Pierce and Allen, has taken it upon himself to start blending the NBA's newest mixture.
``There's no way to shortcut that,'' Ainge said of this process. ``And it starts with sacrifice from your best players.''
Sometimes that sacrifice - or leadership - can start vocally.
``The first day you're around him, the thing that hits you is his enthusiasm,'' Rivers said of Garnett. ``As a coach I've always wondered about what it would be like to get a shot at this kind of talent. ``Think about if you're Gabe Pruitt and Glen Davis, and this guy you've followed all your lives has just walked in like that and says, `Let's go.' ''
Better still, imagine being that guy's coach.