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The KG question I'd rather not ask


 

I'm loathe to pose this question, since race is always an incendiary subject, and the alleged concern about Boston's alleged racism that Kevin Garnett was erroneously saddled with upon joining the Celtics has been justifiably forgotten. But I'll do it anyway:

Why do white players seem to bring out the worst in Garnett?

Consider:

November 2008: Garnett is suspended for one game after hitting Bucks center Andrew Bogut in the face.

November 2008: Garnett gets strangely agitated with Raptors point guard Jose Calderon.

May 2008: Garnett puts too much shoulder into his screen of the Hawks' Zaza Pachulia during the Eastern Conference finals, just a few games after shoving his forearm into Pachulia's upper torso/throat.

September 2004: Garnett punches rookie Rick Rickert during a Timberwolves practice.

January 2001: Garnett labels Bucks rookie Joel Przybilla a "fake thug."

November 2000: Garnett and Wolves rookie Wally Szczerbiak "scuffle" after practice.

Yes, Garnett has always been a remarkably intense player. Yes, he's a great guy off the court. And yes, he get chippy with black players, too. (I still remember one Wolves-Spurs playoff game where Garnett swung hard at Tim Duncan and missed his head. Duncan responded with his patented, googly-eyed, WTF? look; in this case, it was actually appropriate.) But the nastiest, least rational, most embarrassing episodes involve the NBA's limited roster of white talent. 

One possible explanation can be found way back in Garnett's past, in an incident recounted in a 1995 NY Times article on Garnett's preps-to-pros jump:

Two years ago...an incident occurred that changed Garnett's life. He was a junior in high school in his hometown of Mauldin, S.C., a middle-class suburban community outside Greenville. There was a fight with racial overtones in a school corridor in which a group of black students badly beat up a white student. Garnett was part of the group charged with assault. He participated in a pretrial diversion program for first-time offenders, and his record was cleared. But there was a possibility that he would not be allowed to play on the school basketball team in his senior year -- that after he had been named the best prep player in South Carolina.

Then again, that was fifteen years ago.

Thoughts, readers?

P.S.--By way of disclosure, I'm an overinvested (white) KG fan who still hasn't gotten over his exit from Minnesota.

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