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Kevin Garnett on Hawks owner: ‘Just because you have a bunch of money doesn’t mean you can open your mouth’

05.11.12 at 1:16 am ET

On Wednesday, Hawks owner Michael Gearon Jr. called Celtics center Kevin Garnett the “dirtiest guy in the league” during a charity luncheon in Atlanta, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

‘€œWe are playing this old physical team,” said Gearon Jr. “They are old. I know what happens when you play basketball, old guys foul. Garnett is the dirtiest guy in the league.’€

How did Garnett respond? Only by producing 28 points (10-of-19 FG, 8-10 FT), 14 rebounds, five blocks and three steals in Game 6, including a turnaround teardrop in the lane that gave the Celtics the lead for good with 30 seconds left and effectively put the first-round series to bed.

“First off, I want to say thank you to the owner for giving me some extra gas tonight,” Garnett said in a postgame press conference for the ages. “My only advice to him is next time he opens his mouth, actually know what he’€™s talking about — X’s and O’s versus checkbooks and bottom lines.”

Zing. Oh, but Garnett wasn’t done.

“We’€™re not dirty,” he added. “We’€™re firm, we play aggressive, but we’€™re not dirty. You have to understand the word ‘dirty’ in this game is very defined: Trying to hurt guys, ill intent. That’s not how we play basketball. We play very, very respectable to the opponent, to the city. I play with a lot of passion and with force. It’s the playoffs. I haven’t been here trying to hurt anybody, and neither have my teammates. I found that comment to be a little rude and out of hand, and I wanted to address it.”

And the kicker: “Just because you’€™ve got a bunch of money doesn’€™t mean you can open your mouth.’€

As for his age, Garnett turns 36 on May 19, making him the 21st oldest player in the NBA. But don’t tell him that.

“I guess being 35 — soon to be 36, not 37, ’76, look it up — I put a lot of work into my craft,” he said. “I take it very seriously. I always have, since ’95, since I’ve been able to come into the league and it’s almost like you guys are shocked. Like this ain’t what I do every day, like this ain’t what I was made for. It does come off disrespectful at times. I put a lot of work and time into this, and there are certain levels I expect from myself. …

“I take this very seriously, so you guys calling me old, that number defies. You have no idea what you are doing when you say those ‘old’ comments. I appreciate that. I don’t read your columns, but it gets back to me. …

“Not knowing if this is my last year to play, playing against younger talent, being competitive,” he answered. “I’m a very competitive person. I’ve been playing with great guys, a great coaching staff and organization with good people working in it. I am self-motivated but to come here every day, it’s an easy thing to do. You have some hard days, some rainy days, but for the most part I look forward to waking up and coming in.”

A word of advice for 76ers owner Josh Harris before Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals opener in Boston on Saturday: Avoid the words “dirty,” “old” and/or “Garnett” in the same sentence for the next couple of weeks.

For more on Garnett’s signature Celtics moment, check out Paul Flannery‘s column here.

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett
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