Celtics center Kevin Garnett downplayed any talk that he's pondering retirement after the season, suggesting comments earlier this week about this being his last All-Star game were simply his nod to young talent in the league.
In an interview Friday with Dr. Jack Ramsay, Marc Kestecher, and Marc Stein on NBA on ESPN Radio from All-Star festivities in Houston, the 36-year-old Garnett said some are reading too much into his words after declaring with certainty on Wednesday that this would be his final All-Star appearance.
"I did say that, didn’t I?" joked Garnett. "I’m just being honest. To think that, first off, not to take this for granted and I’m more than honored and flattered. But to think that two years left, who knows what the future’s going to hold for me. I can’t say that I’m going to be an All-Star next year at 37-38 years old. That’s ludicrous.
"I’m learning this new journalism these days, they don’t really put out the whole question, they just ask the parts at which they want. So I’ll explain it. The question kinda came off as whether next year and [Garnett] making the All-Star [game], I was like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa. This is probably my last,’ then went into that way and spoke on it. But yeah, I don’t anticipate -- I never said that I wasn’t going to anticipate playing like an All-Star next year, I didn’t say that. But to sit up here with all those young guys and up-and-coming talent, I can’t just say that. I’m not that brash, that egotistical of a guy to say nothing like that. I’m more than honored to be here, it’s not by coincidence, I’m working hard like the next man. But to sit up there and say that next year [he'd be an All-Star], I would never disrespect the game like that."
Garnett inked a three-year, $36 million deal this offseason; he'll turn 39 before it ends. One thing he made clear: He doesn't have any plans to play beyond this current contract.
"I hope I’m not playing at 40," said Garnett. "I don’t know. Forty, to all you guys that are 40, excuse me before I say this, and ladies who are 40, but I don’t want to play until I’m 40. I love to hoop, by the end I want to be like -- when I’m 40 I want to be in the YMCA somewhere, busting a guy like you up, talking trash to you, killing your ego. Shooting the hook shot left and right, something I never do, and enjoying it. I put my time into the game, I actually enjoy playing with the lights or without the lights, but I feel like these times in which I’m going, the game is hard, it’s very difficult to go out here and play these minutes and put in -- I prepare the best way I can every night, but it’s challenging, man. It’s very challenging."
Informed that outsiders don't notice much slippage in his game -- and the stats certainly don't reflect it -- Garnett said he still holds himself to insanely hard standards.
"As long as I’m going to play this game, I’m going to have a certain level that I’m going to demand of myself. And if I can’t get to that level, then I’m going to have a problem," said Garnett. "And it’s going to eat me up, and internally it’s going to mess with me. And I don’t go at things 20 percent or 30, it’s either 0 or 100 percent. If I can’t keep a certain level, then it’s honestly, it’s going to bother me. And I don’t want that. I don’t want to be in a situation where I look depleted -- hell, I look depleted some nights, and it’s like, ‘What are you doing out here?’ However y’all see me, that’s how you see me; but how I see myself, is in another realm. I expect a lot out of myself."
Garnett reaffirmed his desire to retire a Celtic.
"[Celtics president of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge], since day one, even when Ray was here, the first day we got there he always told us he would do whatever he had to do to make the team better, he wouldn’t put guys above the team," said Garnett. "That was the foundation and we all understood that, never had a problem with it. I've always told him where I was, as far as being a Celtic. My expectations were not to come back to be traded. We both understand that, but this is a business and you have to understand that, I do.
"It’s my preference, I will retire a Celtic and be buried in green and that’s where it stands. As far as the organization, where they feel they want to go, their visions for the future, I can’t speak on that. You have to ask them that. For right now, this is what it is; if it changes, I’ll have to deal with that."