BOSTON -- Fresh off a turn-back-the-clock performance in which he posted game-highs of 28 points and 14 rebounds, Celtics center Kevin Garnett opened his postgame news conference by firing a shot across the bow of Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. for derogatory comments he made about Garnett on Wednesday.
Garnett's effort helped Boston top Atlanta 83-80 in Game 6 of an Eastern Conference first-round series Thursday night at TD Garden and ended the Hawks' season.
"First off, I want to say thank you to the (Hawks) owner for giving me some extra gas tonight," Garnett said. "My only advice to him is next time he opens his mouth, actually know what he's talking about -- X's and O's versus checkbooks and bottom lines."
Speaking at an event in Atlanta on Wednesday, Gearon Jr. lamented the lack of foul calls in Atlanta's favor, even on the heels of the team's Game 5 triumph that forced the series back to Boston.
"We don't get any calls, which I know everybody always hears," Gearon said. "But I'll give you a stat. Last night, we are playing this old physical team. They are old. I know what happens when you play basketball: Old guys foul. Garnett is the dirtiest guy in the league. We are playing Boston (Tuesday) night and they had two fouls the whole first half. We had five times that and we're athletic."
Garnett took umbrage with both the "old" and "dirty" parts of Gearon's comments. On the latter, Garnett noted, "We're not dirty. You have to understand the word 'dirty' in this game is very defined. Going under guys, trying to hurt guys, ill intent -- that's not how we play basketball. We play very, very respectable to the opponent, to the city we're in. We play with a lot of passion and with force. It's the playoffs. I haven't been here trying to hurt anybody and neither have my teammates. I found that comment to be a little rude and out of hand, and I wanted to address it.
"Just because you got a bunch of money doesn't mean you can open your mouth."
As for the notion of being old, KG sounded off again.
"I don't want to come off kind of wrong, but I really go with my craft and I take it very seriously," he said. "I guess being 35 -- soon to be 36, not 37, (19)76 (birth year), look it up -- I put a lot of work into my craft. I take it very seriously. I always have, since '95, since I've been able to come into the league and it's almost like you guys are shocked. Like this ain't what I do every day, like this ain't what I was made for. It does come off disrespectful at times. I put a lot of work and time into this, and there are certain levels I expect from myself. ...
"I take this very seriously, so you guys calling me old, that number defies. You have no idea what you are doing when you say those 'old' comments. I appreciate that. I don't read your columns, but it gets back to me."