The coaches and the players probably weren't satisfied with the performance last night, but I haven't read or heard anyone else complaining too much about the result. A road game against the team with the best record in the NBA? Most observers, even hardcore Blazer fans, would have guessed the outcome that ultimately came to fruition.
But today there's talk today about intimidation. John Canzano wrote that the Blazers were plagued last night by a lack of courage. I don't think I'd go that far. I think you could make a case that this young Trail Blazers squad was a bit nervous (the season-high in turnovers would point to that) but were they afraid? I just can't see that.
But I do agree with Canzano that Kevin Garnett talks, a lot. Non-stop even. KG will go down as one of the best power forwards to have every played the game, but is the constant verbal berating really necessary? To me, a pro lets his game do the talking. Garnett undoubtedly has game, so why not save the trash talk for the playground?
Which brings me back to courage. It doesn't take the slightest bit of toughness to run your mouth when there's no chance of repercussion. In fact, it's an act of cowardice. As Maurice Lucas, who's actually a real tough guy, lamented in Canzano's column, "Back then, it was only a $50 fine for punching a guy in the mouth." Mo is right.
Look how "tough" Garnett was here when Antonio McDyess put his fists up. Was it courageous for KG to elbow Fransisco Elson in the groin back in 2004? And who could forget Garnett's unbridled display of masculinity, also in 2004, when the "Big Ticket" (a millionaire since the age of 18, by the way) noted that he was "Loadin' up the pump. I'm loadin' up the Uzi. I got a couple M-16s, a couple 9s. I got a couple joints with some silencers on them. I'm just loading clips." If all of that is a sign of toughness and fortitude, then I've been severely misguided by all of the role models in my life.
To state once again so there's no misunderstanding, Kevin Garnett is one heck of a basketball player. If his career had ended three years ago, he'd still be a first ballot Hall of Famer. But he didn't teach the Blazers anything about courage or toughness last night. He simply provided a clinic in trash talking.