“KG to me is not a friend,” said Pietrus. “He’s part of my family, because we’re trying to win a championship together. We’re trying to make a big thing together. At the end of the day, once we retire and we win a championship, he’s going to be a friend. But right now with the Celtics, it’s all about family.”
The same couldn’t be said a season ago, when Pietrus — as a member of the Suns — and Garnett exchanged words during the Channing Frye groin tapping fiasco . That exchange actually endeared Pietrus to Garnett.
“That’s something I like from him is that toughness,” added Pietrus. “I respect that. That’s what he tries to transfer to everybody on the team. Don’t take anything for granted. Every day in practice, you’ve got to come to work. For the game, you’ve got to come to work too, because there aren’t any days off. Every day is a challenge. Every day, you’ve got to step up and try to get the best out of the day.”
In fact, Pietrus cites Celtics coach Doc Rivers  and Garnett as the two reasons he came to Boston.
“Why I picked the Celtics is because of the man right here,” added Pietrus. “He’s played hard for 16 years. I’ve been watching him for the last 10 years since I’ve been in the NBA. The way he gets ready for the game, the way he gets ready to compete every night, that’s where I got that from. Today, for me to play with him, it’s kind of great because we have the same mentality, and that’s what I’m trying to bring to the Celtics.”
Pietrus will be glad to hear that’s precisely what Rivers thinks the veteran swingman brings to his bench.
“Just his defensive presence on our team has been phenomenal,” said Rivers. “It’s amazing. He’s like Kevin is for our starters. He’s becoming that for the second unit. He holds everybody accountable.”
Opponents often misinterpret Garnett’s intensity as disrespect, but Pietrus always saw KG for who he is.
“That’s what it takes to win,” he said. “I love his mentality. I love it. That’s my mentality too, so people who don’t understand it — they can’t call themselves winners. They’re losers. If you want to win, you’ve got to play with the man. He’s going to give you some respect, and you’ve got to give him some respect too. So, if you’re not all about winning, KG and the Celtics are not for you. You’ve got to go somewhere else and get numbers, but it won’t make sense. You’re going to get numbers, but at the end of the day you’re going to watch us in the playoffs.”
Off the court, KG is different from most players, too, says Pietrus. He encourages the Celtics to “stay together, eat together, do stuff together. On some teams, it’s not like that. You don’t have the same feelings.”
Garnett and the Celtics veterans have made Pietrus feel welcome right from the start, and that means a lot to him.
“You’ve got to learn from the best,” added Pietrus. “I love the man. He plays hard. The thing people don’t see — on some teams, big-time players want to take 25 shots, but it doesn’t make any sense to take 25 shots. What I like about KG, he shares with you. On the plane, you sit down, he’s going to share some story with you. He’s going to share some of his life, and you’re going to share some of your life too with KG. That’s what I like.”
Pietrus gushed on and on about Garnett, whose locker is next to his. Here are a few other gems from a great postgame interview following the Celtics 100-64 blowout of the Raptors (Pietrus had 6 points and two 3-pointers).
- On picking the Celtics: “To be honest with you, the reason I came to the Celtics is because of coach Rivers and KG. I knew they had Paul Pierce  and Ray Allen , but [Garnett] makes everybody play hard. I was like, that’s going to be a good fit for me to play with the man. I am very happy from when I got here a month ago.”
- His favorite memory of KG: “When things weren’t going well for him in Minnesota, he kept working the same way he’s working now. And then that trade came, and he’s still the same KG. That’s what I like. Some superstars play different. If your team doesn’t win, he’s still going to bring his best.”
- On working hard like KG: “That’s what I like. That’s been my main challenge in the NBA, just keep fighting, because at the end of the day good things are going to happen. From what I’ve learned in 10 years now is people are always going to get numbers, but at the end of the day I’ve seen a lot of scorers in the NBA that don’t even have a job. You can do little things to make the team a winning team. That’s what it takes.”
- On idolizing KG: “Some people say their idol is Michael Jordan . My idol is Michael Jordan, but I learned a lot from [Garnett], just watching the way he gets ready in warmups.”
After eights seasons on the Warriors, Magic and Suns, you get the feeling Pietrus has found a home in Boston.
“Hopefully, I’ll be a Celtic for many years to come,” said Pietrus. “I’ve seen the other side of the sea, and the fish is different. I don’t want to go back there.”