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Kevin Garnett tears into Hawks owner after winning playoff series

The Atlanta Hawks were already tasked with a difficult enough assignment of facing the Boston Celtics in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Their owner did them no favors by calling out Kevin Garnett prior to Game 6 — an elimination game for his team.

Garnett had a game-high 28 points, 14 rebounds, five blocks, and three steals in the 83-80 series-clinching win on Thursday night. The veteran said afterward that he was motivated by owner Kevin Gearon’s comments (video above via WEEI’s Ben Rohrback).

“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 — X’s and O’s versus checkbooks and bottom lines.

“We’re not dirty,” he added. “We’re firm, we play aggressive, but we’re not dirty. You have to understand the word ‘dirty’ in this game is very defined: Trying to hurt guys, ill intent. That’s not the way we play basketball. We play very, very respectable to the opponent, to the city, the game. I play with a lot of passion and with force. It’s the playoffs. I haven’t been here trying to hurt anybody, and neither have my teammates. I found that comment to be a little rude and out of hand, and I wanted to address it.

“Just because you’ve got a bunch of money doesn’t mean you can open your mouth,” Garnett said, putting Gearon in place.

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Hawks owner Michael Gearon calls Celtics ‘old guys,’ Kevin Garnett dirty

With the Celtics leading the Hawks 3-2 in the opening round of the playoffs and Game 6 Thursday night in Boston, Atlanta will need to play their best basketball to earn a trip back home for Game 7. The Hawks were destroyed in every phase of the game during a Game 4 loss the last time they played in Boston, and they can’t afford to let that happen again. According to Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon, Atlanta has gotten no help from the officials.

“On top of all that, we don’t get any calls, which I know everybody always hears,” Gearon said according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “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. (Kevin) Garnett is the dirtiest guy in the league. We are playing Boston last night and they had two fouls the whole first half. We had five times that and we’re athletic.”

Gearon is not the first person to call K.G. a dirty player and he certainly won’t be the last, so Garnett will probably let that go in one ear and out the other. The stuff about old guys fouling, however, may motivate the Celtics. Boston was successful down the stretch this season because they were one of the best defensive teams in the league. Unless every official they have had has missed the fact that old guys foul a lot, Gearon’s reasoning seems a bit flawed.

If the Hawks think they are going to get calls based on their reputation of being athletic versus the Celtics’ reputation of being old and run-down, they’re wrong. As old as the Celtics are, they are also loaded with Hall of Famers and have earned the respect of the league and its officials. Guys like K.G., Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce are going to get the benefit of the doubt with calls that could go either way. That is the nature of professional sports.

Photo credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE