Celtics notebook

Garnett offers explanation to Karl

By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / December 9, 2010

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Your article has been sent.

Text size +

Knowing how much his November incident involving the Pistons’ Charlie Villanueva had reverberated, and that what he called a misunderstanding turned into an apparent insult to those fighting cancer, Kevin Garnett last night sought out a certain cancer patient sitting on the Nuggets’ bench.

Since 2005, Denver coach George Karl has battled three forms of cancer — prostate, thyroid, and now throat. Immediately after the Celtics’ 105-89 win, Garnett walked over to offer a word to Karl.

“I went up to him as a man and what I said is that I had nothing personal toward him or any other cancer patients that are out there struggling, dealing with life situations,’’ said Garnett. “I wanted to say that to him man to man.’’

Last month, Villanueva, who suffers from a skin condition that results in hair loss, accused Garnett of calling him a “cancer patient’’ during a heated exchange toward the end of the Celtics’ win at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

Garnett issued a statement, claiming he said Villanueva was “cancerous to our league and your team.’’

At the time, Karl told the Denver Post that Garnett’s reported remarks were “disappointing and crossing the line.’’ He said that if he and Garnett were friends, he would have called Garnett to tell him he didn’t appreciate his comments.

“I was going to do it before the game, but I wanted to get the game out of the way and then approach him,’’ said Garnett.

Making the most of it Coming off a trip to the Finals with the Celtics, Shelden Williams signed with the Nuggets in the summer, and Karl made it clear in preseason that Williams would start at power forward over Al Harrington.

Williams has started all 20 games for the Nuggets, more than he has since his first year in the league, and he’s been relishing the change.

“It’s been a while since I’ve had consistent minutes, and it’s kind of like trying to get back in that saddle and continuing to approach every day the same way,’’ said Williams, who had 4 points and five rebounds in last night’s loss to the Celtics.

The Celtics considered bringing Williams back, but they were in the hunt for big men, ultimately luring Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal. Williams said he couldn’t wait on the Celtics to make a decision.

“They were going on and on about the whole Shaq thing and putting everything else on hold,’’ Williams said. “Two other teams came calling and I had to do what’s best for me.’’

He signed with Denver for the minimum.

“There’s about 50 guys in the league, maybe 100 guys in the league, that when they are given an opportunity, some guys are ready some guys aren’t ready,’’ said Karl before last night’s game.

“I think Shelden — a lot by his preparation here last year — he got hungry, he got excited about being on the court, and when we presented a contract to him this summer, it wasn’t about money, it was all about playing time, playing for an opportunity.’’

They’re back After sitting out Tuesday’s practice, Rajon Rondo, Nate Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal, and Glen Davis all played last night.

Rivers said he was being precautionary with Rondo, giving the point guard an additional day to rest his hamstring after sitting out Sunday against the Nets and getting Monday off.

“We’ve just got to be careful with it,’’ Rivers said.

Davis missed practice because of illness, and even though he was available last night, he stayed away from the team for most of the day.

“We knew he was going to play tonight, we just didn’t want him around our guys for the last two days,’’ Rivers said. “He was really sick — hundred-and-whatever fever.’’

As for Shaq, Rivers said, “Shaq’s 38, and he’s going to have injuries. There’s going to be games he’s going to be great and there’s going to be days when he’s 38 and he just can’t practice, and we’re good with that.’’

Jermaine O’Neal, who has worked out on his own the past two days, was fitted for a knee brace yesterday, but his return was the farthest thing from Rivers’s mind.

“He hasn’t been able to do anything on the floor, so that’s going to take time,’’ Rivers said.

Grand total Karl was looking for his 1,000th win last night, an eye-popping number to Rivers.

“The longevity alone I can’t fathom,’’ said Rivers, who was sitting on 467 coming into the game. “I can pretty comfortably say I don’t think I’ll ever get to that 1,000 win total. That’s an amazing amount of games, and he’s been successful everywhere.’’

There’s a class of elite coaches in the league — Phil Jackson, Gregg Popovich, Larry Brown — and Rivers said Karl is among them.

“To me, they’re just treasures now in our league,’’ Rivers said.

Forbes gets start With the Nuggets scratching Carmelo Anthony just before the game, former University of Massachusetts standout Gary Forbes got the start at forward and scored 5 points in 20 minutes. “He’s a cocky kid, man,’’ said Karl. “Reminds me of me a little bit. He came in our camp, I didn’t know who he was, what type of player he was. He’s come to the gym every day, and ‘no’ was not going to be accepted. When the opportunity to come in and play came early in the season, he came in and helped us, too.’’ . . . With Brigham Young playing Vermont at the Glens Falls (N.Y.) Civic Center to give star Cougar guard Jimmer Fredette a chance to play a game in front of the hometown crowd, Celtics president (and BYU alum) Danny Ainge made the trip to upstate New York to check out the preseason All-American.

Julian Benbow can be reached at

Celtics Video

Follow our twitter accounts