Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Former Celtics great Kevin Garnett wasn't surprised that Kyrie Irving left Boston in the offseason to sign with the Brooklyn Nets.
"No," Garnett said during an interview in New York to promote the film, 'Uncut Gems,' which stars Garnett and Adam Sandler, was directed by Knicks fans Benny and Josh Safdie and will be released on Christmas.
Garnett explained why he wasn't shocked that Irving didn't want to re-sign with the Celtics.
"Boston's a tough town, dawg. You have to have some major cojones to be there," Garnett said. "You got to want that. The people want it for you. That's why Paul (Pierce) is perfect for it. Paul wants the shot every time. Like, 'You're 0-for-14.' And he's like, 'I know, but they WANT it.'"
Garnett, who plays himself in the film as a customer of Sandler, who is a gambler and jeweler, also said he thought Irving and Kevin Durant should have signed with the Knicks.
"If they did the Nets, I thought they should have done the Knicks, if I'm being honest." Garnett said. "I'm not a Knick fan by far. But if they come to the city and dominate, man. …The first superstar to hit New York and be vibing is going to be bigger than life. Remember I said that. Any piece of hope in this city is going to skyrocket. People are waiting."
New York missed out on Durant and Irving in free agency. The duo signed with the Nets, a development Garnett said he was 'very surprised' by. The Knicks are a disappointing 4-17 and have missed the playoffs for five straight seasons. New York has won just one playoff series since 2001.
Garnett was asked why it hasn't worked for New York.
"I don't know, man. I wish I knew so I could go up there and say, 'Hey look, I got the plan,'" Garnett said. "But pretty much anybody looking at Phil Jackson could say, 'S--t, I could've pretty much done what he did.'"
Garnett added that he wouldn't come to New York as a free agent without other stars in tow. He was part of one of the first Big 3s in Boston, along with Pierce and Ray Allen.
"You got to come with pieces. I don't think (the Knicks) put superstars around Melo," Garnett said. "Obviously, they had to pocketbook to be able to bring players here. But for some reason, they haven't put it together."
The directors of 'Uncut Gems' were also in New York for the interview on Tuesday. They said they originally considered ex-Knick Amar'e Stoudemire for the role. Later, they considered Sixers big man Joel Embiid.
Josh joked that in his initial meeting with Garnett, a known Knicks tormentor, he told the Hall of Famer that he hated him. There are references to ex-Knick Jeremy Lin and Knicks owner James Dolan in the film.
Knicks fans will probably appreciate this: the brothers jokingly said on Tuesday that they'd like to see a banner raised for New York's two wins over Kristaps Porzingis and the Dallas Mavs this season.
"We beat him twice. That's it," Josh said. "We'll hold on to anything we can get. RJ, Frank and Mitch. I love our young trio."
Sandler, who lived in New York until early in his childhood, is also a Knicks fan. He roots for the Jets and Yankees as well. He's passionate about all of those teams, but realistic when it comes to the Knicks.
"The Knicks, I don't get too upset anymore (when they lose), I just face facts," Sandler said. "I'm almost madder when they win. I'm like, 'How did that happen?'"
Garnett says Boston isn't a racist town
Boston is seen by some as a racist sports town based on how some of its citizens have treated African American athletes. Garnett was asked about that topic on Tuesday.
"The narrative of Boston before you get there is that it's a racist town, people speak their minds there. And all it is is no different from Miami or Southern Florida and you're a Hurricanes fan, or you're a Gator fan," he said. "If you're not a Boston Celtic fan, you won't get it. They root hard for their sports, they love all their sports teams, and if you're not a Patriots, Bruins fan, Red Sox, Celtic, you don't matter. And it's just that simple. It took an outside perspective to look at coming from the Timberwolves - like I got it now. It's understood. And once you became a Celtic, there was a whole other level of protection, another shield. If you're not from Massachusetts or a Northeasterner, you wouldn't understand."
He added: "I'm used to racism (as somebody who grew up in South Carolina), I'm used to interacting with it. I was comfortable with being able to exchange in it, to control it," Garnett said. "And when I got to Boston, it was a different feel. People weren't racist towards me. It was, 'Oh, shit, the Ticket.' Can I get a picture? Black, white, green, purple, it didn't matter. Everybody was happy and wanted to talk about the game. It was cool. Then they saw me running through the rope, diving on the floor. That's when they were like, 'God damn.' You give everything there, they give it back to you."
Garnett a strong actor
In the film, Sandler plays a New York jeweler and gambler named Howard Ratner. Garnett is a client of Ratner's. The Safdies, who have also directed a documentary about New York City basketball phenom Lenny Cooke, said Garnett was strong in the film.
Doc Rivers, Garnett's coach in Boston, told the directors that he knew the MVP was a strong actor because the Celts had a play in which Garnett acted as if he was getting the ball coming out of the huddle.
"Coming out of the huddle he's supposed to act really cocky so teams are like, oh it's going to him,'" Safdie said.
Garnett added that he worked on the play extensively and it was successful for the Celtics.