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The Early Lead
Posted at 11:26 AM ET, 05/11/2012

Kevin Garnett shows why it’s a bad idea to say he’s dirty and old


Kevin Garnett walks off after the Boston Celtics turned out the lights on the Atlanta Hawks in their playoff series. (Charles Krupa / AP)

Kevin Garnett and the Boston Celtics didn’t just win their playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks, they won the war of words, too.

After Atlanta Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. called the Celtics “old” and Garnett “the dirtiest player in the league,” Boston went out and beat the Hawks 83-80 in Game 6. Garnett, who turns 36 next week, had 28 points, 14 rebounds, five blocked shots and the game-winner. And, yeah, he remembered Gearon’s words.

“First off, I want to say thank you to their owner for giving me some extra gas tonight,” Garnett said. “My only advice to him is next time he opens his mouth actually know what he’s talking about — Xs and Os versus his checkbook and the bottom line.”

Gearon was complaining about the lack of calls against the Celtics when he said: “We don’t get any calls, which I know everybody always hears, but I’ll give you a stat. Last night, we are playing this old physical team. They are old. I know what happens when you play basketball: Old guys foul. Garnett is the dirtiest guy in the league. We are playing Boston [Tuesday] night and they had two fouls the whole first half. We had five times that and we’re athletic.”

Garnett served a dish of shut-up about his style of play, too.

”We’re not dirty. We play aggressive. We’re not dirty. You have to understand the word dirty in this game is very defined — going under guys, trying to hurt guys, ill intent. That’s not the way we play basketball,” Garnett said. “We play very, very respectable to the opponent, the city we’re in, the game. We play with a lot of passion, play with force. It’s the playoffs. I haven’t been here trying to hurt anybody, nor has my team. I just found that comment to be a little rude and a little out of hand, and I wanted to address it. Just because you’ve got a bunch of money don’t mean you can open your mouth.”

The win in six games saves the Celtics’ legs a bit before their Eastern Conference semifinal series against Philadelphia begins Saturday — not that they need it because they’re old or anything.

“I don’t want to come off kind of wrong, but I really go with my craft and I take it very seriously,” Garnett said. “I guess being 35 — soon to be 36, not 37, ’76 [the year of his birth], look it up — I put a lot of work into my craft. 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.”

Maybe, while he’s good and fired up, Garnett could wander over to Fenway and have a little talk with Josh Beckett.

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