Oh the morality … on Kevin Garnett

Oh what a gift Kevin Garnett gives to sports writers.  Just like the steroids issue in major league baseball, the occasion where Kevin Garnett more than likely called Charlie Villanueva a “cancer patient” in the midst of trash talking offers an occasion of the basketball literati to chime in with a scornful column in order to demonstrate just how nice a person he is.  Today’s offering is from Yahoo’s Basketball Columnist (and Paul Allen Spokesman) Adrian Wojnarowski:

Nevertheless, it’s stained his legacy. This one promises to chase him into retirement. Beyond that of an MVP and an NBA champion, Garnett has gone to inexplicable lengths to craft a parallel legacy: a vicious bully, a cold and cruel jerk.

For all the instances of Garnett’s bullying available on YouTube, those two words – “cancer patient” – will never go away. This is the one that people will remember, the stain that’ll be hardest to wash away. Garnett’s 34 years old, and shamefully a man too smart – too principled in a lot of ways – to act like this. Only, he’s done it for years, and it’s now a bigger part of his legacy than an old Boston Celtics champion will want to believe.

Riiiiiiiiiiight.  So somehow Kevin Garnett, who clearly has a form of basketball Tourette’s when he is out on the court, the guy who got on his hands and knees like a dog to taunt Jerryd Bayless, THAT guy … has tainted his legacy here.  Really?  Obviously “cancer patient” is beyond the pale of good taste, but as Deadspin notes, so is Michael Jordan making homosexual slurs at Kwame Brown when he was trying to shatter the confidence develop the game of the former #1 pick.  Even in last night’s win over the Bucks, Garnett threw an unnecessary elbow after dunking on Andrew Bogut (a moment of thunder that seemed inconceivable a year ago).  Bogut did not tweet about this, he shoved him back – as most people should.

I do not necessarily argue for some kind of “guy code” when trash talk is going on.  But in a realm where F-bombs and words that rhyme with “trigger” are being thrown around wantonly, it is hard to tell where the line should be.  Certainly Charlie Villanueva tweeting this to the world instead of punching Garnett himself reflects poorly on him.  He is obviously sensitive to this – and indeed the Celtics thrive on pissing opponents off in this manner – but I just don’t see how running to twitter makes anyone look good.  None of this is a defense of Kevin Garnett – but where is the line in this stuff?  Is the cancer patient crack bad while these guys tossing around homosexual slurs at each other is a form of age old “guys talking”?  Is that what we’re saying?  I don’t know.


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