Since that fateful interview, Pau Gasol and Kevin Garnett have gone two different ways. While the 2008-2009 Celtics started hot, they were punked by the Lakers in LA on Christmas Day. In the rematch at Boston (Lakers had just lost Bynum again), they were smoked again. Then, on February 19th, 2009, Garnett went up to receive an alley-oop during a game in Utah, and simply landed on his knee wrong. To this day, I have never heard an official name given to whatever happened to his knee that night. Naturally, I fully expected this to be Celtics antics, and Garnett to come out of the tunnel thumping his chest and talking trash to the likes of Kyle Korver by the end of the 3rd quarter. But Garnett never played another meaningful minute the rest of the year, and was on the sidelines (pounding his chest and talking smack) as the Celtics were dethroned by the Magic (and eventually had their crown taken by the Lakers).
Garnett returned this year and has struggled mightily. He has lost his explosiveness and has appeared to limp heavily at times. His team, lacking the night to night intensity that was generally supplied by Garnett for the last two seasons, struggled to the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference Play-offs. However, old (and the 2010 Celtics are definitely old) warriors with big egos sometimes don’t go quietly into the night, and the Celtics were able to oust the likes of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Dwight Howard. Their reward? Kobe Bryant, the league’s alpha male, striving for his fifth ring in ten years. And for Garnett? He was matched up against his former whipping post from the 2008 Finals: Pau Gasol.
Many said a doppelganger for the series was going to be the Kevin Garnett-Pau Gasol match-up. Just how far had Pau come since getting dominated in 2008? Would he resort to the “Ga-soft” label he had been given by the media? Would Kevin Garnett be able to harvest Gasol’s organs once again? Whoever won that matchup would win the series, many analysts predicted.
Game 1, I (and anybody who knows basketball) would argue, went to Gasol. He dropped a 23-14-3-1-1 line on the same front-court that he struggled against in 2008. Garnett responded with a 16-4(!)-1 line, in which he settled for too many jump shots, didn’t rebound, and allowed the likes of Jordan Farmar to gracefully get to the rim. It was probably the biggest contrast between 2008 and 2010.
NEXT: What the future holds…