BOSTON—After dozens of practice-session attempts, Boston Celtics center Kevin Garnett proved Tuesday that he could touch the rim of the basket when his middle finger slightly grazed the front edge of the regulation-height goal on the north end of the team's practice court, finally putting to rest a month of speculation and ridicule from his teammates.
"I told those guys I could hit rim," said Garnett, adding that "nobody believed [him]" when he informed his teammates that he touched, and indeed nearly grabbed, the rim in January while he was shooting around by himself in his driveway. "I always said that if I'm warmed up enough, and I can get a running start from the other end of the court and don't have to worry about dribbling or anything, I can get rim no problem."
"I proved everyone wrong," Garnett added. "I shocked the world, just like last year when everyone said I couldn't get backboard."
Team sources confirmed that it took Garnett approximately one hour and over 15 tries before he finally touched the rim, though he reportedly came very close several times, often touching the middle and top sections of the net. During one instance, which his teammates were quick to point out didn't count, Garnet jumped to grab the net with both hands, then pulled himself up and hung on the rim. He then told teammate James Posey to throw him a ball, which he eventually managed to dunk before releasing the rim and returning to the ground.
"I had to really dig deep at the end there," said the 6'11" Garnett. "But I knew once I left the floor on that last try that I was going to get rim. I honestly don't think I have ever jumped that high in my life."
Celtics guards Ray Allen and Paul Pierce said that when Garnett told his fellow teammates in January that he could get rim on a 10-foot hoop, both responded, "Yeah, right" and "No way." The pair also responded "Okay, sure" and "Yeah, and?" to Garnett's claim of hitting rim at the hoop at his house, citing as general knowledge that Garnett's home basket easily stands less than 10 feet and that his driveway is inclined just enough to give him an unfair advantage.
"If Kevin had said he could get rim on a nine-foot hoop, I probably wouldn't have questioned it," said Pierce, who noted that Garnett, Allen, and himself get together Saturday afternoons, lower Pierce's backyard hoop to seven feet, and have dunk contests. "But 10 [feet]? That's really really high. Kevin's a good basketball player and all, but he's no Michael Jordan."
"I guess you have to give him credit, though, because in the end, he did it," Pierce said. "Man, I would kill to be able to get rim just once."
Allen, however, was not as quick to heap praise on his teammate, pointing out that even though Garnett touched rim, he "just barely got it," and claimed that if his ankle had not been injured, he too could have touched the rim.
"I don't see why everyone is making a big deal about this," the visibly jealous Allen said. "If I was as tall as Kevin I would be touching the rim all the time. So what if he can touch the rim? If he can't dunk, what's the point?"
Upon learning of his teammate's comments, Garnett said that if he got a large enough running start and jumped at the exact right moment, he could probably dunk a tennis ball.