- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Kevin Garnett brought immediate fireworks to Boston.Oh sure, today is the MLB trade deadline. But five years ago, the Celtics agreed to a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves that brought Kevin Garnett to Boston (side note: the Red Sox traded for reliever Eric Gagne that same day, in a move that didn't work our nearly as well).
On the fifth anniversary, we reflect on that wild day, and chuckle recalling how the deal was reportedly delayed in being finalized because Garnett was on a cruise. At his introductory press conference at the Garden, Garnett closed by quipping: "On another note, I have never been on a cruise. I’ve never been on a cruise."
We encourage you to leave your thoughts on five years of KG in the comments. For a little fun reading, the full transcript from Garnett's introductory press conference is posted after the jump.
Jeff Twiss: “Welcome everybody to the Legends, thanks for your patience today. On a marketing note there are still a few season tickets remaining at 1-866-4CELTICS if you’d like to call in anytime, operators are standing by. Without further ado, I’d like to introduce our head table; our president, Rich Gotham. Managing partner, Bob Epstein. Co-owner, managing partner, governor, Wyc Grousbeck. Captain, Paul Pierce. The newest member of the Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett. Just behind him, the second newest member of the Boston Celtics now, Ray Allen. Next to him Director of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge. Head Coach, Doc Rivers. At the end, if we could please we’ll bring the microphone around so you can ask the questions so everybody could hear that would be great. We’ll open it up now to Danny.”
Danny Ainge: “Thank you everybody for being here. First of all, one guy who’s not with us today is Steve Pagliuca. Steve was a big part in all this, as all ownership is, and I’d like to start out by thanking the ownership, because, their passion to win and bring a winning team to Boston is what’s behind all of us and what’s gone on today. They have a strong desire to put a winning product on the court, and Steve Pagliuca who’s not here with us, he’s in Michigan with his family, he’s been burning the midnight oil with us the past couple nights while he’s been on his trip, so we miss Steve not being here. This is gonna be a lot of fun this year. I think that how this all happened is really interesting, and another guy I’d like to thank are the two guys right here, Paul and Doc. They’ve stood in front of the cameras, in front of you guys for the last two years, and taken some heat, taken some bullets, and had a pretty heavy shoes to fill and high expectations that were probably unrealistic and unfair. And they’ve handled it well, and without Paul Pierce, here today, we probably don’t do a deal for Ray Allen and we don’t get Kevin Garnett. And without Ray Allen we don’t get Kevin Garnett. So there’s a lot of things that trickle down effect from here, but you know Paul’s been here a long time, and Paul’s endured a lot, we’ve had some success, and he’s endured a lot the last few years, and I’m glad he’s here with us today to experience some of the hope that’s with our franchise today. I’d like to say the bitter part of this day is Minnesota got a good deal in this deal, a good trade. Where they are as a franchise it’s really hard for us who have invested a lot of time and development in Al Jefferson, and Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green in particular, guys who’ve been with us for a while. We’ve invested a lot of blood sweat and tears with them and they’ve given us everything that they’ve had. Al Jefferson is gonna be a fantastic player and I’m glad he’s in the Western Conference. And Ryan Gomes may be one of the best people I’ve been around in 25 years in sports, a class, class human being. And we all know Gerald’s upside, you know Gerald’s young still, and has a tremendous upside. And there’s just a different cycle. Minnesota’s in one phase of their franchise, where we have been, in developing players, and we’re in another phase right now. We’re in a cycle where we feel like over the next handful of years where we have the chance to be a very special team. And so we’re really looking forward to that. And that’s all I have. Now I’ll open it up to any questions.”
Kevin Garnett: “Well I’m happy to be here. This has probably been the hardest 72 hours I’ve dealt with since I’ve been in the NBA. Initially, I had no interest in leaving Minnesota, and I let that be known. But after Glen Taylor shared his views about what he wanted for his team, and their future, they contradicted, and I really didn’t think that I was ever gonna have to think of a different alternative when it came to playing in Minnesota or just playing the game of basketball. But with the elaborate talks and knowing Glen’s views on what he wanted for his team in the future and how they were very different from mine, when draft night went and Boston traded for Ray Allen, the whole situation changed for me. I actually thought about it, contemplated and thought about it, I really didn’t speak publicly, really didn’t say too much to my friends, or any of that. Just in myself, really tried to be comfortable with seeing myself in a Celtics jersey. I went out to my summer home, and played ball with Paul, he didn’t talk to me about any of the things above, and I just got to thinking that I guess at the end of the day I’m loyal to a point where I feel like if someone’s loyal to me then I have no problem with that, but when that changes, then it’s pretty easy for me so after that, going through those stages, which was really tough, I thought this is probably my best opportunity to win a ring so I took the steps to make those adjustments, and here we are, wearing number 5.”
Ainge: “Let me just add that we’re not done, we have roster spots to fill, we think we can continue to improve our roster, we don’t think that these three guys alone can win a championship. We really believe that a 14 man roster/13 man roster is crucial and how we fill those roster spots is important to us to get supporting players that can get them over the top, and we will continue to do that. You know, on paper this team looks good, these guys have a lot to do, these guys have to get the chemistry right, they have to make the sacrifices to win, and I know there have been a lot of comparisons already to the Big Three. The Big Three is the Big Three until we win. And these guys will never be the Big Three until they win. And I think they know that. I’ve heard these guys talking, I’ve talked to each one of them, they know that. They know nothing has been accomplished by this team at all. They have a chance, we’re excited, and for the hope that is ahead of them this year as everybody is, but until they do something together and collectively, they know that they have to play defense, and they have to be coached, and they know that they have to help their teammates become better through hard practice and tough experience and these guys have a lot to offer the role players on the team still and they know all that.”
Pierce: “I just think this is a tremendous day not only for Kevin, and myself, but for the whole organization. Mid-season after I got hurt, I went into Wyc’s office with Steve and Danny and we voiced our concern about the team, we were in the middle of a losing streak, and one thing I have to say about them is that they’ve always been passionate about this team and wanted to put a winner out here and it’s showing. With the moves that we’ve made this summer they’ve given us a lot, but it’s a big sacrifice we have to make to win ballgames. I’ve been preaching that you need veterans to win in this game and they did everything they can to bring a team in now that this city can get excited about. You know, as I’ve said, I’ve told you in the past that the Boston Celtics is an elite franchise, and now that we’ve made the deals to be a team to be at an elite level, I think that’s what this city’s all about. And us staying there, and I just want to reach my hand out to them for their efforts in bringing this team together, bringing the players around me necessary for us having a shot at a ring. I know that’s my whole passion, I know that’s what drives Kevin, I know that’s what drives Ray, we’ve all been in the same situation, we’ve been on teams where we’ve had to carry a lot of the load, for a number of years, and as you all know you can’t win that way, and us coming together understand what you’re gonna have to do to win, and I follow them, you know I’m also a fan of the game, I know how unselfish these guys are, I know how unselfish I am, and I know these guys are gonna do whatever they can to make this team work. And like I told Danny in the back I feel like I’m a rookie again.”
Ainge: “You know these three guys go back along way as well. I think Paul and KG, KG actually stayed with Paul a week or a couple weeks when they were in high school, it’s have been a long time coming—“
Pierce: “It took 13 years to get back with him—“
Wyc Grousbeck: “Were you guys eating Ramen Noodles and Doritos back then?”
Pierce: “We played in a high school tournament in Vegas in 1995, the only time we ever played together, and 13 years we’re back together.”
Ainge: “And then Ray and KG go back to high school as well, back to South Carolina, so these guys are very familiar with each other already, which I think is gonna help a great deal in the chemistry developing, and willingness to sacrifice for each other.”
Grousbeck: “I’d like to say a word about Danny and Doc, they’ve created a culture here of being patient, and drafting well and developing players…if you like the way Al Jefferson plays, as I’ve said to many people you know look at who drafted him and who coached him. They’re gonna love him in Minnesota and it’s gonna be hard to see Al go. Danny and Doc have set up a climate where we had the pieces we could offer, somewhat reluctantly, but to get a third superstar for the team as we try to make a run, try to be a contending team, which is gonna be a lot of hard work away, that we might get there. I’d like to say that these players off the court, each of them, to me, embody Celtic pride. Kevin received the Community award, Paul’s charity event is next week in LA, the Devoted to the Truth fund, and Ray still brings hundreds of kids from Connecticut out to our games, when he was with Seattle, and I’m sure he’ll still be doing that now that he’s a Celtic. These guys are Celtics on and off the court, I’m proud to have them here. The last thing I’d like to say is that Boston is a special town, I’ve heard from so many of our fans today, and I’ve also heard from John Henry, Bob Kraft, and Charlie Jacobs on behalf of the Jacobs family, they’ve all called and they’re ecstatic for us, the Celtics, so we’re glad to be back, we appreciate their support and this is a great time to be a Celtic.”
Ray Allen: “This is definitely a great opportunity, I’ve been in the league and I have a great respect for this organization. I remember going back to the days when this organization battled against the Lakers and every time they came in here they were afraid to walk into the Garden, and I think those are the days we’re headed back to here. You know, an opponent walking into this building knowing that they have a lot to be afraid of, and not just from one position. For myself, I greatly respect everybody up here on this panel, because everybody up here does their job in a professional manner, everybody wants to win, and most importantly everybody’s a good person. So we know for myself, for Kevin, for Paul, you know we talked here in the last couple of hours and we talked the last day or so and we shared similar philosophies, we all were on teams last year that didn’t make the playoffs, that we had a lot of young players that we had to nurture and mature to play basketball for 82 games, and it’s such a great pleasure and an honor now, to step on the floor with these two guys night in night out, knowing what I’m gonna get from them. I watch them a lot on tv, don’t get mad at me cause sometimes I might watch them sometimes when I’m out on the floor being a fan still, but it’s such a great honor for me to be here and I’m thankful to the ownership for bringing me here.”
Doc Rivers: “I want to echo what everyone else said, you know I couldn’t be more excited, obviously. Before I talk about Kevin, and Ray, and Paul, and the job that Danny and Wyc and the ownership have done, for a coach this is a great day for me and it’s also been a very difficult day. Al, and Ryan, and those guys, you put your heart into those guys, you know, the young guys, you really do. And so making that trade call was difficult, I mean I’m an emotional coach, and I put my heart into this game, and you put your heart into your players and I think that’s what every coach should do, so that was difficult. Al, and Ryan, and Gerald, and Bassy, they’re all gonna be great, and I wish them all the luck, except against us, in the world. On this trade, I love it. I just think it gives us a chance, it gives us hope, that’s what we want. From low expectations to high expectations. That’s what we want, it’s exactly what we want, and I can’t wait to get started, I do wish training camp started tomorrow, but it doesn’t so—“
Pierce: “Too early!”
Rivers: “Again, I’m just excited, we obviously have three terrific players, we have three classy players, three unselfish players, and we have three players who want to make it work, and when you do that you have a chance to make it work, and so let’s get it going, I can’t wait.”
Grousbeck: “Sorry, to add one more thing, early on my wife and I were sitting at a game and Paul was knocked to the floor and his teeth literally fell out and I think hit her shoe, and we’re sorta like ‘Oh my God!’ you know I’d be in my bed for a month if it were up to me, and Paul was back in the game I think 5 minutes later, and I think just went to the dentist the next day and he got it done during shootaround or before practice, and we knew then that we wanted to build this team around Paul Pierce, and Paul’s still here, and others have joined him, and that is really just the way I wanted it.”
Ainge: “Let me introduce Brandy, Brandy will you stand up over there. This is Kevin’s wife, we’re gonna welcome her to Boston. When you do deals like these that we did at draft time, when you do the deals of this magnitude, I mean it is a lot of hours, and a lot of work, and two guys back here we got Zarren…come on Zarren come out here. And there’s Frank Burke, and those guys are up until 2 in the night most nights last week and I want to recognize them. And also Dave Wohl, Dave’s not here today he’s actually working right now, he’s the only one in this organization not here right now he’s working, he’s watching some film of some other free agents so I wanted to thank Dave also.”
Questions & Answers
Twiss: “We’ll open it up for a few questions.”
Q: Kevin, when you started thinking about this trade after draft night, at what point did it click in that this was the best thing for you?
Garnett: “The more I continued to talk to Minnesota about the future, making the team better, and then voicing their opinions on what they see forth for their team in the future, it contradicted how I saw it, or what I thought was best for making the team better. The more and more it came to real life that I probably wouldn’t be in a Timberwolves jersey next year and just looking at different teams I know Paul and I have been in conversations in the past in playing with each other and when you’re on a team and you tend to think that certain conversations are just y’all shooting the breeze so to speak, and the more and more I knew that Minnesota’s interests were different from mine, I had to think about a different alternative and there was no way I was gonna be able to go to some other organization or franchise and have this caliber of talent with these two in the league, and there was no way I was gonna be able to duplicate that.”
“I reached out to Paul’s 4 phones, left messages on all 4, luckily Ray had 2 phones, and immediately called back, --“
Pierce: “I didn’t recognize the area code.”
Garnett: “Yeah but I did reach out I spoke to Ray, I asked around I asked Antoine how was the city, he had nothing but great things to say about the city. Talked to GP about the city, and slowly but surely got more comfortable with a new situation and started to really visualize myself in a Celtics uniform. So I started to take those steps towards doing that. I’d like to thank Minnesota for 12 years of greatness, having fun there, you know that city is a beautiful city, I’ll always have a home there, I’ll always have a special place in my heart, but I think at this point in my career I can’t do young, and I think that you need veterans to win, I think Paul echoed that earlier, you definitely need veterans in this league to win, and when I knew that they wanted to do something that…I started looking for alternatives. You know I’m glad to be here. I told Danny when I first talked to him, it feels good to be appreciated, at the end of the day to have to pat them on the back, just recognize that, and I’m excited, I’m kind of…I told them it’s like being in a Lamborghini doing 200 with your head stuck out the window—“
Allen: “You done that?”
Garnett: “I’m just telling you it’s been like a whirlwind the last 72 hours and I’m just happy to be up here, since I’ve gotten here I already see the difference in how the organization does things, I can’t even elaborate on how professional, first class everything’s been so far, and that only shows that everybody here is gonna appreciate me.”
Q: This question for Paul, do you feel that at this point there’s no excuse for this team not winning?
Pierce: “Definitely, when you bring these type of caliber players in there’s always expectations. You know these guys over the years have thrived when they’re under pressure, kinda with expectations the whole year, and I think this is something that we’ve looked forward to, this is what we want in our careers, and that’s what it’s gonna take to win. These guys…I couldn’t ask for any better situation. I asked for veterans, I didn’t expect to get a 7 time all star or a 12 time all star, I was looking more along the lines of…I don’t know….I can’t say no names, but, this is a dream come true. I feel like a rookie again, like when you first get drafted and you’re excited about playing in the league. I’m just excited, you know my motivation, it’s been hard on me the last couple years just trying to stay motivated, but fortunately, I love the game so much that you know I’m gonna be motivated but now it just takes it to a whole other level.”
Garnett: “I’m a very passionate player, but one thing that hurts more than anything is losing. Knowing that you’re going into a game and you have a slim chance of winning is very difficult, and I’m a very confident person, 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 and even though the onus is gonna be on the three of us with how well we gel, quickly, how so this chemistry comes together, you know the small things that you guys have no insight about, but we know that gelling and chemistry is a big part of this. Knowing that I have a chance every night, that I don’t have to go out and get 25, 30…20 rebounds, you know, I don’t have to do that every night, but I’m very capable of doing that, and I don’t know man, it just feels good, feels good to have two big guns on the side of me, feels real good.”
Q: “To all three of you, in your mind, are the Celtics the team to beat in the Eastern Conference?”
Garnett: “Well again, chemistry is a big thing. And with Cleveland, with respect to them, and winning the east last year, I think the east has gotten a lot better, additions to the Knicks, Orlando has gotten better, you know Detroit you can’t ever count them out, Cleveland, I mean it’s definitely, the Eastern Conference has gotten better. I wouldn’t go that far to say that we’re the team to beat, cause we still have things to prove. We still have to work on chemistry, and bonding, we like I said are gonna be a force to be reckoned with. I will say that.”
Allen: “I personally try not to worry about what’s going on in the rest of the league, and trying to build what we have here and team chemistry and working with the guys that are gonna come in and the guys like the Rondo’s the Rajon Rondo’s and Tony Allen, and Scalabrine, and the other guys that are on the team, and we have a lot that we want to build towards. And training camp starts, we’re going overseas this year, we’ll have a great time to bond through traveling, playing against some international competition, and then before you know it the season will be here, and it’s the small things really that are gonna equal up to the big things and when we take care of those small things we’ll look up and our standing will be in a pretty good place. Kevin’s a passionate guy, and Paul’s passionate, but they’re also stubborn, they’re also ornery, and I’m the same way. You know, playing against these guys, they want the best, I want the best out of both of them, and both of them want the best out of me. Vice versa, so when we’re out there playing, we know what it’s gonna take, you know playing together and counting on each other for 82 games. You know, being great for 82 games, and that’s what we’re here for.”
Pierce: “I don’t know if we’re the team to beat in the east, but I know that when other teams look at that schedule, and we come in town, they’re probably gonna get their rest the night before. But the other thing about that is I’ve always felt like we’re the team to beat since I was a rookie. I’m optimistic like that, but it’s a great situation and we’re all excited.”
Allen: “I’ll say this too…when I’m on the perimeter and I got these behind me, you know my confidence level goes up sky high, you know my swagger is through the roof, and I guarantee they both feel the same way offensively and defensively. When the other team sees us coming on the other end they’re definitely gonna be afraid because you gotta pick your poison.”
Q: Danny, what can you tell us about any kind of contract extension, obviously you wouldn’t do this just for the year or two left but how much can you fill us in on what you guys have worked out?
Ainge: “Just that we have a multi-year contract extension.”
Q: Kevin, it seems like from what we’ve read and heard it seemed like this was your deal to make at the end, and if that’s the case, why did you decide that this was gonna happen?
Garnett: “I really felt like it was the only scenario to be honest with you. Again, I can’t stress this anymore, you know, no one wants to be in the situation that you can’t be successful. I’m no different from that. I wasn’t comfortable with losing for what, the last four years. I try to digest that the best way I can and its difficult for me to be honest with you. Just looking at all of my scenarios knowing that Minnesota did share some of the same interests that I had. Knowing that I’m trying to find the best scenario for myself, my family, basketball-wise; this came out as the best scenario. I do have a place in L.A. L.A is L.A. I can’t, you know, knowing the Kobe situation is up in the air; Phoenix, those are beautiful places to visit and live but when you speak on basketball, and when you speak on fans, and how they feel about their sports here. I mean it’s a no-brainer. There was no way I was going to be able to go to another team in this league, have two caliber players that I have, Doc, I mean the staff, no way, there was no way I was going to be able to duplicate that in anything. So I feel like I made the right decision for not only me but for my family.”
Ainge: “The real reason he didn’t tell you is that he has a Red Sox baseball hat collection. He’s got a tough time wearing those except when he comes to Boston. So now he can break out his Red Sox hat collection.”
Garnett: “I can bring out all of my Red Sox hats.”
Ainge: “He’s a big time Red Sox baseball fan. And the other thing is, there was a lot of reports out there, about KG not wanting to come to Boston and I had the opportunity to talk to KG before the draft and those were all false reports. KG, there were a team or two that he liked better than our situation of course. It had nothing to do with Paul Pierce. It had nothing to do with the city of Boston in any way, shape or form. It was just, you know, what we would have to have given up to get him and wasn’t sure that him and Paul were enough. The Ray situation changed that. All the reports out there were false. From every conversation I had with KG and so that the fact that he changed his mind didn’t surprise me at all based on the conversations I had with him before the Draft.”
Garnett: “On another note, I have never been on a cruise. (laughter). I’ve never been on a cruise."
5dMatt Walks, ESPN.com
5dESPN Stats and Information Group