Kevin Garnett stayed true to his competitive form to the very end. After the Boston Celtics lost to the New York Knicks 88-80 in a series-ending Game 6 at TD Garden on Friday, Garnett walked off the court without appearing to shake hands with his opponents. Teammates Paul Pierce and Jason Terry were right in front of him as they walked off the court and into the locker room.
Exiting the playoffs without congratulating his opponents on the court is a postseason tradition for KG. He and Rajon Rondo did it last year after Boston lost to the Miami Heat in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. Neither player would apologize for not being sportsmanlike, and Rondo even said he wished the team had more “sore losers.” Though Rondo wasn’t around because he is rehabbing his knee injury, Boston did have more sore losers this time to join Garnett.
There actually is a lot more going on here than a matter of sportsmanship; there is a lot of bad blood between the teams. In January, Garnett and Carmelo Anthony got into it during and after a game. Then the Knicks angered the Celtics by wearing all black to Game 4 for the “funeral” of the Celtics.
Garnett is signed for two more seasons while Pierce has a $15.3 million team option. Boston could buy out Pierce for $5 million. Garnett, who is turning 37 on May 19, hinted in February that he would be retiring after the season. Pierce has indicated that he does not want to play for any other team. This may finally be the year both players call it a career.
If Garnett’s last actions on an NBA court were walking off without congratulating his opponent, it would be very befitting of his competitive personality.