The tall, lanky man had a towel draped over his head after practice, at which he demonstrated that Kevin Garnett can still command attention on the court, as he did while coaching at Clippers training camp Thursday.
But as it turned out, all of the Clippers were interested in learning from one of the NBA’s all-time greats at the practice in the Bren Events Center on UC Irvine’s campus.
“K.G. was phenomenal today,” Rivers said. “This morning, before practice, he had a teaching clinic that you would pay a lot of money to see. It was great. It was great for Blake and D.J., and the young guys as well. It’s great to have him around. He’s a great teacher. … He’ll be really good for us.”
Over the 21 seasons Garnett played in the NBA before retiring last week from the Minnesota Timberwolves, the 6-foot-11 power forward was known for his intense nature, his defense-minded approach, his team-oriented ways and a persona of toughness.
Garnett and Clippers forward Paul Pierce were teammates for six seasons in Boston, winning the NBA title in 2008 with Rivers. Pierce was happy to see his old friend.
“He’s been a major inspiration in this league for a long time,” Pierce said. “A lot of guys look up to him. He has so much to share, and it’s good to see him come here and share some of the things with some of our guys, especially D.J. and Blake. He’s working with them right now. All that helps.”
Garnett’s impressive resume meant all of the Clippers listened when he spoke.
He was the 2004 league most valuable player, the defensive player of the year in 2008, a 15-time All-Star and nine-time All-NBA player.
Jamal Crawford called Garnett one of his “10 favorite players” and said it was “unbelievable” to have the future Hall of Famer at practice.
“That’s one of the best players to ever play the game,” Crawford said. “So every second you’re around a guy like that you’re listening to every single thing that he says. You’re a sponge. You’re like, ‘Oh, my God, it’s Kevin Garnett.’ No matter what, they’ve watched him playing growing up. They’ve seen the highlights.
“He’s one of the best to ever play basketball. He just has a certain aura about him once he walks in that there is a certain respect that he demands. For him to be here and to give them that kind of knowledge, it speaks volumes about him as well.”
Rivers doesn’t see Garnett ever taking on a full-time coaching job, but perhaps he will serve as an occasional mentor.
“This is as organic as it can be,” Rivers said. “I just told him to come around and figure it out, do whatever you want. Whatever he does, I’m good with, because I do think he can have a very positive impact on us.”
Anderson sits out
Knowing that veteran Alan Anderson still is recovering from left ankle surgery that limited him to just 13 games last season in Washington, Rivers held the small forward out of practice Thursday because his ankle was a little sore.
“We’ve just got to be careful with him,” Rivers said. “Foot injuries, you just have to be careful with. His foot wasn’t hurting, but we have people way smarter than me that are making that decision and they said, ‘It’s precautionary. Let’s take him out. Let’s not let him practice [Thursday) so he can go [Friday].’”