Because he has already managed to annoy me even during the bliss of finally having basketball back on TNT. Even before tip off, he did this. First game of the year. Nice going, KG.
A little background first:
If we are to believe the marketing campaign that has loomed over and punctuated the past few weeks, we are already living the past: the highlights of the night, the days of our lives, the memories of our future. The NBA isn’t rhetorically asking where amazing will happen; it’s more an open call to players to create moments to be relived, later, in endless replay, and for fans to be ready to acknowledge them. The effect is sort of a living archive, which, at least for me, has been causing some problems, because it’s impossible to figure out what’s genuine.
There was an interesting conversation on this site last year in the wake of the Celtics’ Championship win—and, more so, Kevin Garnett’s. Was his lycanthropic howling— "Anything’s possible!" "I’m certified!" &c.—premeditated, contrived and fake, or was it an authentic expression of emotion? There were arguments; things got heated. Assessing other people’s motivations is always futile, but Garnett was a special case: here was a guy who we’d always believed, whose sincerity was unquestionable, who came correct with the straight real and wept in John Thompson’s lap like a failed son. But, then the made-for-TV moment—and even worse, it felt made-for-replay.
Now, what did Garnett do that got to me tonight? Make the jump and I'll tell you.
This was the 2-minute intro to the TNT double-header tonight. Watch it (you might have to sit through a 30-second commercial first), and then let's discuss.
Aside from the predictable sin of utterly ignoring the Spurs (save a 3-second quote from Timmy) in favor of Kobe! LeBron! Dwight! D-Wade! et al., TNT treats us to some truly over-the-top mugging from KG throughout the video. It's not even the baring of the teeth and what we call in yoga class the "hot breath" noises that really pushed my cringe button--it was that "I'm just flyyyyinnnnggg'" moment with the closed eyes, the lolling head. What are we supposed to think there? "Why, I believe he actually sees himself flying at this very moment! That man certainly does love basketball. Probably more than anyone else alive!"
I watched the whole video a couple of times to see whether I'm being unfair. I don't think I am--sure, there are certain players who are perhaps too facile, too smooth, polished to a hard gleam by all those years in the limelight, but even Kobe still seems sincere. He's not pushing an image of himself at me the whole time he's on camera. Maybe the parts where he's an asshole were edited out; I don't know. Maybe KG spent plenty of time talking like a regular, super-talented guy giving an interview about a game that he loves rather than doing a Charlton Heston imitation. All I can go on is what I'm seeing, and what I'm seeing is a man deliberately being intense™ for the cameras. I don't want pre-made memories and impressions, Kevin, thanks. Take your act on the road and see how well it plays in San Antonio.