Bird Not Buying Garnett Conspiracy Theory

June 4, 2008

The rivalry between the Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers has prompted some fascinating debates over the years, but at least one inquiring mind wanted to know:

Is the rivalry the reason Kevin Garnett ended up in Boston?

During yesterday's NBA teleconference with Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, Bird was asked if Minnesota Timberwolves vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale traded Garnett to Boston last summer in part to prevent Garnett from joining the Lakers.

Naturally, Bird dismissed the notion out of hand, albeit with a playful dig at Celtics director of basketball operations Danny Ainge.

``Knowing Danny, he was in Kevin's ear every day - and probably the last one that called got him,'' said Bird, noting that the Lakers and general manager Mitch Kupchak similarly had expressed interest in Garnett. ``I think Kevin really likes the players that Boston had, and that's probably why the deal was made.''

Before Garnett was dealt to Boston, many believed the Lakers and Phoenix Suns were the primary suitors for his services. While a Phoenix package included forward Shawn Marion, the Lakers were believed to offer a package built around forward Lamar Odom.

The Celtics, of course, offered a package built around power forward Al Jefferson, who averaged 21.0 points and 11.1 rebounds for the Timberwolves this season. Jefferson outperformed both Marion and Odom, and is considerably younger than both players.

``Garnett (initially) didn't want to leave (and) Kevin didn't want to trade him,'' Bird said. ``I think other people got involved at the last minute and decided (a trade) was probably the best way to go - young, try to rebuild it.''

So Garnett came to Boston and helped deliver the Celtics to the Finals.

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