Kevin Garnett’s ‘pack of hyenas’ Celtics speech
|11.03.12 at 1:07 am ET|
Needless to say, Kevin Garnett didn’t enjoy the Bucks embarrassing his Celtics a few nights after the Heat dropped 120 on their defense, so he privately addressed his teammates in the locker room afterwards.
“When we came in the locker room, KG spoke,” Courtney Lee said. “What he said is that we’ve got to go into every battle like we’re the underdog, like we have nothing, like we’re scrapping. He used the hyena as an example. The hyena, when they go for the kill, they eat in packs. And that’s how we’ve got to do it. We’ve gotta go out there, have each other’s backs, play for each other, make the right plays and be on the same page.”
Garnett, Lee and even the very vocal Jason Terry wouldn’t go into much detail about the postgame speech about hyenas, but it’s safe to say it wasn’t anything like Zach Galifianakas‘ wolf pack soliloquy from “The Hangover.”
(If it was, it might’ve gone like this: “You guys might not know this, but I consider myself a bit of a loner. I tend to think of myself as a one-man hyena pack. But when I met Rondo, I knew he was one of my own. And my hyena pack, it grew by one. So there were two of us in the hyena pack. I was alone first in the pack, and then Rondo joined in later. And a month ago, when Rondo introduced me to you guys, I thought, ‘Wait a second, could it be?’ And now I know for sure, I just added nine more guys to my hyena pack. Fifteen of us hyenas, running around the Garden together, in Boston, looking for strippers and cocaine. So tonight, I make a toast!”)
It definitely didn’t go down like that. Not after the C’s allowed Bucks guards to roam free in a 99-88 win.
“Enough was said,” said Terry. “There was a lot said. Without me going into detail — we’ll keep that in the locker room — but a lot was said after the game, and we’ll see how we respond. I know we’ll respond.”
After allowing 46 points in the paint against the Heat on opening night, the Celtics gave up 52 in the key to the Bucks. Nothing worked for Celtics coach Doc Rivers. Not small lineups featuring Jeff Green, Brandon Bass and/or Jared Sullinger. And not the Darko Milicic experiment. Nothing stopped an endless flow of easy buckets.
“Hyenas was the word I used,” said Garnett, who scored a team-high 15 points. “We eat in packs here, and we help each other. Since I’ve been here, we’ve built a cult of what great organizations have been built on in their history, and that’s been not individual but team. I just spoke upon that with everybody in here — without the coaches — and just letting all the new guys know what it means to be a C, re-innovating that and letting them understand the severity of putting this jersey on and everything that comes with that. I won’t go into that. It’s none of y’all business, but I had to re-innovate that, and I felt like tonight was the perfect night to do that.”
After all, the Celtics play the dreaded second night of a back-to-back on the road Saturday night against a new and improved Wizards team (even without John Wall, for the time being). No rest for the weary. It doesn’t help the C’s are without their youngest and best hyena in Avery Bradley, who isn’t expected back until December.
“Collectively, we’ve just gotta come together a little bit more and just figure out a way,” said Jeff Green, who let out an audible “aaaaaahhhhhh” in frustration. “These games are going to be tough. Teams are no longer scared. We’ve just gotta go out there, make plays and start it off on the defensive end.”
After practice this past week, Rivers claimed the biggest thing the Celtics miss from Bradley is his ability to take as many as six seconds off the opponent’s shot clock. The Heat were starting their offense with 18 seconds left on the clock on Tuesday, and Bradley’s ball-hawking quickness generally makes that more like 12-14 seconds.
Now, that responsibility falls on Rajon Rondo, but Rivers argues his point guard’s role on offense doesn’t allow him to reach his full defensive potential. (He also insinuated Bradley wants it more, but that’s a different story.)
“I’m the first line of defense,” said Rondo. “I initiate the offense. So, I’ve just gotta be better.”
But so do Terry and Lee — and everybody else for that matter — if the Celtics want to survive without Bradley. Between the two new Celtics guards, they have 17 years and seven teams of NBA experience, but both claim the C’s defensive schemes aren’t any more difficult to grasp than any other team in the NBA.
“It’s the NBA,” said Lee. “The principles are the same. It’s a lot of high pick-and-rolls that make up 90 percent of the offense in the NBA. We’ll figure it out. We’ve just got to get together, be on the same page and have each other’s back. That’s going to take time with new personnel. That always takes time, so we’ll figure it out.”
How much time is the question, because before they know it Bradley will be available to take their minutes. Still, Lee, Terry and the rest of the Celtics aren’t worried yet. It’s only two games. Not time to push the panic button.
“It’s just a matter of digging down within yourself and doing what’s best for the team,” said Terry. “We all have to be on the same page, and we’re just not on that page right now. It starts with communication, starts with being aggressive, being down in your stance and we’re not there yet, but we’ll get there. I’m very optimistic in that.”
So, what happens if the
Celtics hyenas can’t feast on the Wall-less Wizards on Saturday night?
“How you come through this adversity is going to test your true character,” said Terry. “Do we have what it takes? Because it’s going to be harder than this. I mean, this is just the beginning. And so you want to win right now, but you’re kind of glad we’re going through something that’s going to test our mental fortitude. We’ll see [Saturday] night. [Saturday] night is a must win for us. We must come out and play Celtics basketball.”
A must win. Three games into the NBA season. Guess they took Garnett’s postgame speech to heart.