ORLANDO, Fla.Throughout Kevin Garnett's career, he has made himself an available fountain of wisdom for any young big thirsting for knowledge on how to play the game the right way.
This week brought him face-to-face with a couple of his "young (Luke) Skywalkers" who are no longer with the Celtics - Oklahoma City's Kendrick Perkins and Orlando's Glen Davis.
Both are with teams that look to them for leadership, the kind of leadership that each has often said was taught to them in part by Garnett via his word and his actions.
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After Boston's 116-110 win over the Magic on Sunday, Garnett acknowledged that he speaks with both players every week to week and a half.
"They are still my young guys," Garnett said. "I always consider them my young Skywalkers, my young Jedi's so to speak. They are in new places and may have new identities but have the same work ethic, new personnel, new responsibilities. I always preach to them this is growth."
That growth has Davis, whose maturity was at times an issue in Boston, now in a position of leadership as one of the Orlando Magic's co-captains.
"When you're in a young environment and a new organization where they are expecting things out of a winner, you have to bring that and that's the consistency and discipline of being a professional," Garnett said. "You don't get to pick and choose when you want to be. It's a way of life. I like to always promote that, preach that to them. It's important for them to understand that."
Following Orlando's loss to Boston on Sunday, few took it harder than Davis who had 15 points and seven rebounds but missed nine of his 12 shots from the field.
Davis was particularly critical of his play down the stretch in which the Celtics scored eight of the final 10 points in overtime. During that stretch, the Magic missed seven of their eight shot attempts which included a pair of misses by Davis.
"At that time the leader is supposed to step up," Davis said. "Jameer (Nelson) and everybody else did a good job. I was nowhere to be found tonight. You're not going to make every shot; at crunch time you've got to do something. I didn't do anything."
Davis added, "I let my team down. They played extremely hard. This is on me I think. I don't care what anybody says. It could be played here but if I come to play we'd beat them."
The disappointment that Davis speaks of is what most leaders have to deal with on a regular basis.
"He's in sort of a new situation, and I know it's going to be frustrating moments (for Davis)," Garnett said. "But I tell him, 'you don't get a day off. You have to be the example, and it's not by what you say but what you do.' And in days you don't want to do it, you have to come in here and do it anyway. Days when you having a trashy day from family and every other type of distraction off the court, gotta put it to the side, come in here and focus in and do your job."
Which is exactly what Garnett has done throughout his career, which includes solid performances in wins over Perkins' Oklahoma City team on Friday and Davis' Orlando club Sunday night.
"Those are my young brothers," Garnett added. "Although we have to play one another, I root for them. That's just the relationship we'll probably always have.
Said Perkins: "At the end of the day, it's a lot of love and respect on both ends."