They were both warriors; they both wore Celtics Green; they were both huge; only one of them, however, has multiple championships. Kevin Garnett moved a step closer to having one more thing in common with Bill Russell on Tuesday night. His Boston Celtics beat the Miami Heat on their home floor to take a 3-2 series lead, the chance to close the series at TD Bankworth Garden, and move on to the NBA Finals.
Bill Russell was the most feared defender of his era, and when Kevin Garnett went up and blocked LeBron James’ layup attempt in the 4th quarter(a beautiful block), kept it in play, and eventually hit a midrange jumper on the other end…I could not help but think of Russell.
“He’s just amazing,” said Doc Rivers after the game and he could have been talking about Russell. “He doesn’t have to score. Obviously we need his scoring — that’s important — but he just . . . he’s our life. I mean, he really is. He just does so many things that don’t have numbers to it. A lot of it is with his voice. He’s, in a strange way, a calming effect on some of our guys. If you can ever call Kevin that, he is. He’s just been terrific for us.”
Since Garnett joined the team, the Celtics are now 9-0 in Game 5s where the series is tied 2-2. Two things are incredible about that: one, the fact they have been tied 2-2 in 9 different playoff series. Two, it is breathtaking that they have won Game 5 every single time; Garnett is the main catalyst behind the Celtics being undefeated in tied Game 5s.
“I always said you were my favorite player to watch, you never disappoint me,” Bill Russell said to KG in a 2008 intereview. “And you finally got on the right uniform.” Russell followed that comment with a patented hearty Bill Russell laugh.
Russell then had some words of advice about how Garnett could achieve his championship dreams. “I think that you’re going to win 2 or 3 championships here, OK? …You may have to put your arms around a couple guys and take them with you. But you can’t drag them. You have to put your arms around them and take them with you.”
Magic Johnson’s comments after the game remind me of Russell’s above words to Garnett. Magic spoke about how the Heat weren’t a team unit during huddles, how the Celtics(except for Michael Pietrus) came together during huddles, had their arms around each other, and believed in each other (even when nobody else did). And the Celtics belief in each other has landed them in the advantageous position in this series.
Russell said in their 2008 interview, that he would share one of his championships with Garnett if he fell short of a championship. If Garnett is able to win another Larry O’Brien trophy, then maybe he can share one his rings with William Fenton Russell.