We’re a bit obsessed with Kevin Garnett, because Kevin Garnett is the trigger to the entire Celtics offseason. He’s also a freak of nature who played some amazingly great basketball at 36 years old, after 17 years in the league, at the end of a compressed season that killed everyone physically. The simple fact is, he’s still good, so we still want him.
There’s another reason we really want him back. Because the guy we all hope will eventually replace him, JaJuan Johnson, is still learning… and we want him to keep doing things like this.
“I sat across from him on the plane, so we’d talk every flight,” Johnson told CSNNE.com. “He’s all about listening. If you listen to him, he’s going to share anything with you, so it’s pretty cool.”
Johnson didn’t have much opportunity for playing time on a veteran squad in his first year. But perhaps just as valuable was the time he had with his teammates, including Garnett and Rajon Rondo, who he developed strong relationships with over the season.
“It makes it easy just because I feel comfortable enough where I can ask about anything and they’re going to give me an honest answer,” Johnson, 23, said. “You’ve got to really appreciate that because even though this is my first year, I feel like a lot of the other rookies didn’t have a chance to do what myself and E’Twaun [Moore] and Greg [Stiemsma] did.”
You’ve got a sensei sitting there with nearly two decades of NBA knowledge just waiting to impart it on the kids. You can only hope that an offseason with KG’s words rattling in his head can help JJ grow. And ideally, Johnson can come back from that offseason with MORE questions for KG, and more moves to show KG, and more confidence to bang with KG in practice.
Sometimes NBA success is part luck. JaJuan Johnson is one of those lucky guys to have perhaps the best ever at his position, with a very similar build and style, right there to teach him every day. The bad luck this year came with the lack of practices due to the lockout. Next year will be imperative to the continued development of Johnson, E’Twaun Moore and whatever young guys are on the roster because they’ll get an actual offseason, summer league, and practices. These guys need KG around to teach them more.
I don’t care that Kevin Garnett’s disdain for the media makes him the so-called worst interview in the league. His love for the game and desire to teach it to young teammates makes him one of the most valuable guys to have on your roster.
Photo credit: ESPN Boston