If you missed Part 1 of my annual Trade Value column, CLICK HERE. We join Part 2 trying to answer the question, “How can you root for Kevin Garnett?”
My answer: He’s on my team. That’s how. I would have loved Bill Laimbeer if he played for the Celtics. I would have loved Thurman Munson had he switched teams with Carlton Fisk in 1971. I would have loved Peyton Manning if he had been switched with Tom Brady in 2002. Your guys are your guys — as long as they’re on your team, they become family the same way your annoying aunt, blowhard uncle or black-sheep cousin is family. I don’t think KG called Charlie Villanueva a cancer patient, just a “f—— cancer.” I don’t think KG intentionally punched Channing Frye in the nuts, and even if he did, who cares? It’s Channing Frye! I just know that Garnett plays for my team, always tries hard, cares about his teammates, doesn’t care about his own stats, and if he happens to be a crazy person, then so be it. Remember, we live in a world in which Lakers fans cheered Sasha Vujacic and his hairnet for years.
Besides, Garnett never changed his circumstances changed. You knew him for years and years as the tortured soul stuck with lousy teammates in a small market watching his prime waste away, so you felt bad for him, and you either overlooked some of the crap he pulled (like when he punched out a scrub teammate named Rick Rickert) or didn’t even know about it. Now he’s in Year 4 starring for a signature contender, constantly appearing on national TV and being immersed in 24/7 sports coverage in which every foible is dissected Zapruder-style. Anyone who followed basketball could see this coming. The same thing that makes Garnett great (his intensity) also leads to casualties (everything else). Just know that if he played for your team, you would love this bald, blathering maniac just as much as Boston fans do. You would.
GROUP F: “Borderline Franchise Guys”
27. Eric Gordon
Yet another young guy who plays hard. I don’t know whether it’s the rookie salary scale (so guys don’t get overpaid too soon), the league’s emphasis on player conduct, smarter agents, the veterans leading by example, the lessons learned from all the idiots before them, or all of the above, but we’ve never had more young stars playing their asses off. The best thing about Clippers games — as opposed to, say, a Nets game featuring Kenny Anderson and Derrick Coleman in 1993 — is that everyone walks into the Staples Center knowing that Gordon and Blake Griffin will give a crap about that night’s events. It’s a nice feeling. A feeling that quickly dissipates when you see Donald Sterling sitting courtside with a big, oily smile on his face, but still.
26. Rudy Gay
25. Josh Smith