If you’re looking for someone to be critical of Kevin Garnett‘s alleged “Honey Nut Cheerios” comment to Carmelo Anthony, Houston coach Kevin McHale might just be the last person to seek out. He’s known Garnett for years from their Minnesota days and by trading him to Boston in a sweetheart deal in 2007 delivered the final piece of the Big Three to McHale’s former Celtics. However, knowing his biases doesn’t make his own smackdown of the current state of smack talk in the NBA any less great.
Because of his background with KG and Boston and playing alongside one of the greatest trash talkers in history, Larry Bird, McHale was asked what he thought of Garnett’s comments. His take? The garbage he hears these days from the sideline is weak compared to the stuff he used to say and hear in the ’80s. From the Houston Chronicle‘s Jonathan Feigen:
“So some guy says, “I’m going to kick your read end” or “What have you got” or ‘You can’t guard me,” all of a sudden in our politically correct world, that’s bad?” McHale asked. “If you heard half the stuff we used to say. I chuckle at that. Look, the guy is a competitor. So he says “I’m going to kick your butt.” Here’s the thing, ‘Tell him no you’re not’ and go out and play against him. If that’s the only thing you got, go out there and whip his butt if you don’t like it. Whip his butt on the basketball floor.
“None of our guys are fighters, believe me. Just go out and play basketball. The rest of that stuff is absolutely silly. So he talked some smack. Big deal. Everybody talked smack.”
Asked if he ever heard Garnett “cross the line,” McHale said, “In today’s game, ‘I don’t like you’ is crossing the line. If you’re not saying let’s have dinner and exchange numbers, c’mon. It’s ridiculous.
“How can you go too far?” McHale said. “You’re trying to beat the other team. What’s too far?”
What’s too far? Of all the players since McHale retired in 1993, Garnett might be the one to straddle that line consistently. Yeah, Gary Payton and Michael Jordan still roamed the NBA during Garnett’s early career â€” and Payton once said he would use anything, even a DUI, against a player â€” Garnett seems to make people uneasy the most (just Google his name with Charlie Villanueva or Tim Duncan to see the most egregious of KG smack). But, there are two issues here McHale is addressing at once. The first is that nothing is too far when a game is on the line, and this is where his defense of KG comes into play. KG is at one extreme end of the current NBA trash-talk spectrum, though. With his second point that sounds a lot like its own smack talk, he’s telling everyone else in the NBA now to stop whining and step their game up.
Do you think people have overreacted over KG?
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