CBS Sports basketball analyst Wally Szczerbiak joined Dennis & Callahan Wednesday morning and admitted he's been proven wrong for writing earlier in the Eastern Conference finals that Kevin Garnett is not a clutch player.
Szczerbiak, a one-time Celtics swingman who had a frosty relationship with Garnett when the two were teammates on the Timberwolves for 6 1/2 seasons, tweeted during the Celtics' Game 2 loss in Miami that Garnett lacked the "clutch gene and always has." Garnett since has been a force in helping the C's win three straight.
"Like he said in his interview last night, it's incredible what he's doing right now at his age," Szczerbiak said. "It is a credit to his craft, how professional he is. … He's playing the best basketball quite possibly I've ever seen him play, at the biggest moments. It's just incredible.
"The reason why I put the tweet out there about the clutch gene is to be objective," Szczerbiak continued. "In our profession, our job is to be objective. We put LeBron on blast for not having the clutch gene. Watching KG throughout his career, now with Boston, I just threw it out there that, hey, let's keep an eye on KG at crunch time and see what he does at crunch time. Because in years past, when we were with Minnesota, we had guys like Sam Cassell that took the big shot. Now with Boston he has Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. And to KG's credit, why wouldn't you defer to those guys at the end of games? They're big-shot-makers. Paul Pierce showed it again last night.
"Having said that, KG proved me completely wrong last night. [He] made two huge free throws down the stretch and made a big 15-footer. If I'm one of the naysayers that's helping motivate KG play at this level, then maybe the Boston fans owe me a little thank you. Because he's just playing off the charts."
Szczerbiak said there was a specific incident early in his career that marred his relationship with Garnett. He wouldn't reveal what it was, but he insisted, "We've gotten over it."
"We learned to get along very amicably," Szczerbiak said. "We had seven great years. He was a phenomenal teammate. He took me as a player to extraordinary heights. He helped me make the All-Star team, helped us make the playoffs every single year, we made the Western Conference finals. Unfortunately, as a team, we couldn't achieve that ultimate goal, which was an NBA championship. He's achieved it in Boston with other great players around him, great coaches, great organization. Credit to him."
On the other side of the floor, LeBron James continues to struggle in the clutch. Szczerbiak said something has changed since he played alongside James in Cleveland for a year and a half.
"When I first got traded to the Cavs [in 2008], my first conversation with [then-coach] Mike Brown was, 'Wally, our job is to just get the game into the fourth quarter, give the ball to LeBron in the last five minutes and he'll win it every single time.' And he did," Szczerbiak said. "We knew where the ball was going, we knew he was going to come through for us. Ever since, though, he's gotten to Miami, he's been totally different I think at the end of games. I think it was evident in Game 4 in Boston. I thought he made a horrible decision at the end of the game, not even getting a shot up, allowing the defense to dictate what he was going to do with the ball on the last possession and not attacking the defense and making the defense react to him. And then last night, he was deferring to Wade. … He has not been the same player that I remember playing with in Cleveland in Miami in those clutch situations."
Following are more highlights from the interview.
On Doc Rivers: "He's the best coach I've ever played for. He just knows, he gets it. He knows what's going through the mind of a player. He knows how to get a player into a rhythm, how to get him going, how to get him the ball in his sweet spot where he can make a play, where he can make a shot. And then he can start playing better defense. He's done a great job for the Celtics."
On Heat coach Erik Spoelstra: "Erik Spoelstra's going to have to answer a lot of questions, let me tell you. Just what they run at the end of games. I look at Doc Rivers, he runs a cross screen in the last two minutes for KG to get him the ball five feet from the basket with a smaller guy on his back. It just seems like Erik Spoelstra makes [Dwyane] Wade and James beat the Celtics 1-on-5 from the top of the key or halfcourt. I don't see any getting the guys in a good position where they can score, getting the guys the ball with an advantage to score."
On Thursday's Game 6: "It's so tough to win on the road. What Boston did last night was a big-time win. To go in there in a pressure situation, a pressure game, and get that victory was just big. Now, all the pressure swings to the Celtics. They have to come out, they have to defend home court. They're going to get Miami's best effort. Miami's got a lot of pride in that locker room and they have some great players in that locker room. And they have Chris Bosh getting healthy. … Right now Boston's a team, and right now Miami's a little bit fragile."
WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Chris Price discuss the latest development at Patriots training camp. Chris says Darrelle Revis has looked great, and that his impact on the defense is actually being underplayed nationally.
WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Chris Price discuss Rob Gronkowski's meeting with the media on Friday. Gronk said he doesn't anticipate changing the way he plays, noting that he wants to "keep smashing and dashing."
Julian Edelman joins Merloni, Fauria, and Benz after Patriots training camp.
Jackie Mac joins the guys to discuss her thoughts on a possible mid-season tournament in the NBA, LeBron's return to Cleveland, trade rumors with the Celtics and Red Sox, and Darrelle Revis' contract situation.
Jackie MacMullan of ESPN Boston to talk about the Lebron James Saga, the possibility of Rajon Rondo being traded, and the future of Marcus Smart.
Former coach of Celtics 1st-round pick Marcus Smart, Travis Ford joins MFB to talk about what Celtics fans should expect from the strong point guard. Among other things, Coach Ford says Smart will be a hard worker, and will improve his shooting ability.
Tim Kurkjian joins the program to discuss the Red Sox options at the trade deadline.
Kevin Millar joins Merloni, Fauria, and Benz to discuss David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia's struggles, and Jon Lester's contract.
Rob Bradford is joined by WEEI.com Bruins beat writer DJ Bean, as well as Boston sports fan/blogger Turtleboy to talk all things Bruins free agency. With the B's recent moves, the conversation turns to where the Bruins might next turn and what kind of dent losing Jarome Iginla and Shawn Thornton might make.
DJ discusses Shawn Thornton's new deal, and the on going negotiations with Jerome Iginla
DJ Bean joins the program to dismiss the recent rumors that the Bruins are in discussions to trade Brad Marchand to the Sharks for Patrick Marleau
John, Gerry, and Steve DeOssie discuss Tom Brady's impact on the rest of the Patriots, plus Steve tells tales from his old days as a NFL linebacker
A whale watch boat is stranded overnight in Boston Harbor
Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront certainly put on quite the pitching performance, as the Red Sox were trounced by the Jays. Does this change the team's approach to the trade deadline?
Christian tells a story about taking his girlfriend to see "Jersey Boys" in NYC, but he leaves out some crucial details. Luckily, she was listening and called the show to clarify exactly what kind of shenanigans he was trying to pull.
MFB discuss a Peter King article that suggests many NFL coaches and assistant coaches have felt increasing pressure over big-money fantasy football players. Christian also weighs in specifically on how his knowledge of game-plans resulted directly in him winning his first season as a fantasy football player.
The Sox lost 14-1 as Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront both had awful performances. On the heels of the loss, rumors began to fly regarding Jon Lester and John Lackey possibly being traded.
The tweet is a little ominous sounding. Dale, Buck and Greg Dickerson discuss what very well could be the end of the Jon Lester era with the Boston Red Sox.
We tackle four topics all sparked by the Red Sox worst to first to worst run in 2012-2014.
We talk about the latest news surrounding Jon Lester and the Red Sox. Could he be dealt to the Dodgers?
Mut and Villani are talking about whether the Red Sox will give Jon Lester the type of contract he is looking for, or whether they might be shopping him with rumors of the Red Sox scouting Cole Hamels.
Mut and Villani are talking about the MLB All Star Game, Adam Wainwright and Derek Jeter, and what are some of the worst ideas in sports.
Sam and Zach discuss changing the format of the Podcast, the Chris Archer-David Ortiz debacle, and LeBron James being a super genius
Particularly in a year where the Red Sox have struggled while trying to integrate numerous young players into regular big league roles, accusations that Red Sox prospects are overrated -- whether by the team or writers -- have been widespread. Jim Callis of MLB.com joins the show to take stock of the matter, and to discuss the team-building impact of overrating and underrating prospects.
With the trade deadline looming, the next few days will be defined by how teams value prospects -- and their potential long-term contributions -- against big leaguers with established track records who can address immediate needs. Are prospects being valued accurately? Red Sox left-hander Andrew Miller -- once one of the two key chips that sent Miguel Cabrera from the Marlins to the Tigers -- assesses the matter.
Rob gave the latest on Jon Lester trade talks and the flap between Ortiz and the Rays.More from this show
Particularly in a year where the Red Sox have struggled while trying to integrate numerous young players into regular big league roles, accusations that Red Sox prospects are overrated -- whether by the team or writers -- have been widespread. Jim Callis of MLB.com joins the show to take stock of the matter, and to discuss the team-building impact of overrating and underrating prospects.More from this show
We talk about the latest news surrounding Jon Lester and the Red Sox. Could he be dealt to the Dodgers?More from this show