Garnett is known more for trash-talking than helping out opponents, but he stopped Porzingis. “You hear the boos and KG gave me great advice,’’ Porzingis said at the Knicks’ morning shootaround in Orlando’s Amway Center. “He came up to me in the summer league and (said): ‘Use that as motivation. Just let that drive you every day when you step on the floor.’ That’s what I’m trying to do. I don’t focus on it. It’s not the only thing that drives me and it still sits inside me. I just want to prove those fans wrong, prove I could be a good player.’’
“Kevin had this belief that if you were the leader, you couldn’t miss one snap of practice,” says Doc Rivers, who coached Garnett in Boston from 2007 to 2013. “But I had this belief that you are 30-whatever and I need you for the whole season.” And so in February 2009 the coach sat down his future Hall of Famer. Not to skip a game. Rivers just wanted him to miss a practice. “Coach, you don’t understand,” Garnett seethed. “If I’m sitting, they will see weakness.”
Garnett, forbidden to take the floor by his own coach, had concocted his revenge: He would track the movements of power forward Leon Powe, the player who had replaced him in the lineup. As Powe pivoted, so did Garnett. As Powe leaped to grab a defensive rebound, Garnett launched himself to corral an imaginary ball. As Powe snapped an outlet pass, Garnett mimicked the motion, then sprinted up his slim sliver of sideline real estate as Powe filled the lane on the break. The players were mirror images: one on the court with a full complement of teammates, the other out of bounds, alone. Two men engaged in a bizarre basketball tango. “KG,” Rivers barked, “if you keep doing this, I’m canceling practice for the whole team. That will hurt us.”