Kevin Garnett: Celtics broke LeBron James
The Celtics eliminated LeBron James’ Cavaliers in the 2008 and 2010 second rounds. Then, LeBron joined the Heat with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and beat Boston in the 2011 and 2012 playoffs.
Here’s Kevin Garnett’s take on those postseason battles, particularly the seven-game 2012 Eastern Conference finals.
Former Celtics forward Kevin Garnett on The Bill Simmons podcast:
But did the Celtics really break LeBron?
LeBron looked broken after losing to Boston in 2010. He also put himself back together better than ever before.
Those 2012 Eastern Conference finals were an inflection point. LeBron was coming off a personally devastating loss in the NBA Finals the year prior. Questions swirled about his killer instinct, especially once the Celtics took a 3-2 lead. But LeBron dominated Games 6 and 7 to carry the Heat to victory and an eventual championship. It wasn’t some mysterious agenda. It was LeBron and Miami being that good.
Boston deserves credit for pushing LeBron toward his elite potential.
By forming his own big three in Miami, LeBron emulated the Celtics with Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. LeBron rose to the occasion on the court only when pushed to the brink by the Celtics.
I appreciate Garnett’s old-school competitiveness. That’s true to who he is. He instilled that attitude in Boston and, by extension, forced LeBron to reckon with it.
Boston was great. LeBron eventually became better.
But just because Garnett held this outlook doesn’t mean all the Celtics shared it. It’s easy for Boston to write off Ray Allen as a traitor for joining LeBron in Miami. But Rajon Rondo is now playing with LeBron on the Lakers.
The Celtics beat LeBron then LeBron toppled the Celtics. It was a great battle, and now the war is over.
Except in Garnett’s mind.