Flip on KG and adjustments with age
January, 3, 2012
By Chris Forsberg and Greg Payne | ESPNBoston.com
BOSTON -- Washington Wizards coach Flip Saunders lasted only 106 seconds before getting tossed from Monday's game against the Celtics. He spent considerably longer talking before the game about old friend Kevin Garnett, who he coached from 1995-2005 with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Here's the Q&A with reporters:
AP Photo/Haraz N. GhanbariFlip Saunders got tossed Monday night, but had plenty to say on old friend Kevin Garnett.
Players make adjustments as they get older, what has he seen from KG?
"I don't think he's made any adjustments. I mean -- the one thing about KG, you have to understand, his adjustment, starting when he was a rookie all the way until now, 17 years later, is that, whatever they give him, he's going to take. Whatever the coach asks him to do, he's going to do. If they want him to try to score more, he might try to score more. But, he's going to always make the right play when he's on the floor. If I had to say an adjustment he's made, I'd say, like most players, when Kevin came in the league, he's a 7-footer who never wanted to be a seven-footer, so I called him 6-foot-13. I said he came into the league as a 3 man, he became an All-Star and he was an All-Pro player as a 4 man, and he'll probably finish his career as a 5 man. But his effectiveness has been astonishing, except for his injured year. When he's been healthy, he's been very effective."
Has Garnett gone into the paint more?
"He'll go into the paint at times. Like I said, in Minnesota he averaged 25, 26 [points] per game and 15 rebounds, so he did that. But still, when he was down there, he would always make the right play. You know, he wouldn't take a poor shot, and if he got trapped, he passed the ball out. So he's going to make the right basketball play. That's what he's been weened to do."
How do you see him dealing with age?
"I know I saw him [play well Sunday] night. His body did pretty much everything he wanted it to do. So, I didn't see much aging [Sunday] night. One thing about KG, he's always taken care of himself. It started when he was a young guy, he was, like I said, brought up the right way. He's always lifted weights, he's taken care of himself, and so he's been able to always go... Sometimes on back-to-backs, he might not have the same lift, but no one does. Kobe [Bryant] doesn't either. None of those guys [do.] It's just the amount of minutes you put, as far as, on your body. But, when I look at him, as they get older they might not have that, but they know to stay away from the things, and try to keep out of trouble. So I think he knows how to do that. But he's always been... KG's always been one of the most cerebral players I've ever had. We'd go through scouting reports and he'd say, 'Well, five years ago, we pick-and-rolled this way against this guy.' He's got a phenomenal memory, he doesn't forget anything, and he remembers how to guard people, how to play people, and I think that's one of the reasons -- his game preparation -- is why he always has an opportunity to have success, even when he gets older and maybe he's not as quick as he used to be."
How do you have Andray Blatche ignore KG on the court?
"Well, I think you've got to go out and you've got to take it to KG. I know that when I had him, he had his most problems when guys just went right at him, and didn't back down. It might be easier said than done, but this game is as much mental as it is physical. I know a lot of people get on KG around the league because of how he gets on players, and he's always been a guy that's always talked, but I've always said, he does that to motivate himself. That's kind of how he motivates himself to go out and play. I know one thing, there's not a guy in the league that plays with as much passion for 48 minutes on the floor as he does. So, any coach would relish the opportunity to have somebody like that."