"I’m motivated. I hear y’all calling me old. I hear y’all calling me ... older. Weathered. I’m motivated, it don’t take much to motivate me, man," Garnett said. "I’m older in basketball years, but in life, I’m 30-something. I think some of y’all -- I’m looking at your [scans the hair of reporters in front of him] gray hair, no hair, hat hair, beautiful hair, wet hair, ummm, no comment. I’m just motivated. I like to use that word.
"The first half of the season wasn’t the most pleasurable for us. I felt I could be better. And I’ve been working towards that. I’ve been giving myself a true analysis in the mirror, looking at myself and telling myself what can I do better. And I’ve been going towards that. I know some things I can get better at, and I’ve been trying to do that. It doesn’t take much to motivate me, man. I don’t watch too many of you guys’ interviews. It’s garbage. But the ones I do catch, it's just an opinion. It’s what it is. It puts a spark under me and I like that. Playing against younger talent that’s supposed to be prolific and supposed to be above average -- but I’m old, though. You know? Again, for the third time, it doesn’t take much to motivate me. That’s what it is. That’s what you see."
Asked, then, if he was motivated to go against Utah's Al Jefferson, the key asset delivered by Boston in prying Garnett from Minnesota before the 2007-08 championship season, Garnett deadpanned, "I wasn’t motivated," before chuckling. Then quickly barked: "Next question."
Garnett was plenty motivated and, as Keyon Dooling later noted, he used his "Jedi Mind Tricks" to get Jefferson worked up. The result was a fourth-quarter double technical when Jefferson pushed Garnett from behind in frustration, but Garnett got the last laugh with his 23-point, 10-rebound effort that paced Boston (Jefferson finished with 18 and 12, but was 7-of-19 shooting from the floor).
Alas, Garnett didn't want to talk Jefferson. Yet he had plenty of other opinions. Here's a few highlights from his postgame confab, including some eyebrow-raising thoughts on returning to Minnesota on Friday night:
* Garnett on being a leader: "I’m every bit of the word of a true leader, not by the words that come out of my mouth, but by example. That’s just me, man. I’ve always been built like that. I’ve always tried to better myself, on and off the court. But when it comes to basketball, you have to put in your time, put in you work. You gotta not just talk that talk, but walk it. I’m here. I’m dealing with everything, ailments all that. But I’m here."
* On being more aggressive offensively: "Ray [Allen is] out right now. I think everybody’s sorta taking it upon themselves to... be a lot more aggressive... I’ve always said my part is defense, and that’s what I’m here for. Obviously, [coach] Doc [Rivers] has asked me to score more, look for my shots, so I’ve been doing just that... I have been looking for my shot and, when Ray gets back, I will go back into my role of playing defense more and I have no problem with that."
* On returning to Minnesota on Friday: "It’s always special to come back to true fans and your foundation, but as far as that franchise, I have nothing positive to say. So I’ll just let it be that. I think Kevin Love's playing at a high level, I think he’s rejuvenated the city as far as basketball goes. Other than that, nothing else."