TORONTO - Two Saturday’s from now, Alan Anderson and the Toronto Raptors will march into the TD Garden and take on the Boston Celtics in an afternoon tilt.
For some of the younger Raptors and certainly the rookies, there will be a slight pause when they first encounter Kevin Garnett, the heart and soul of the Celtics team and as good a trash talker as the game has today.
Alan Anderson won’t be buying the intimidator act, though.
Anderson will forever remember Garnett as the player who helped him along the way, the face of the Minnesota Timberwolves when he was growing up and the guy who kept him positive through a four-year absence from the NBA that took him from the D-League to Europe and back again to the D-League before the Raptors came calling.
“I grew up watching the Timberwolves and I grew up under Kevin Garnett,” Anderson said. “He always looked out for me when I was younger. I used to always go there and play in their facility and all that.”
The access was a by-product of Anderson winning MVP honors at a Garnett camp. Part of the spoils of the award were a meeting with the man himself.
“We exchanged numbers and then he was like a mentor for me,” Anderson said. “I mean he was the BIG TICKET and he always looked after me and checked up on me. Being in high school and you’re talking to Kevin Garnett, it was like ‘That’s Kevin Garnett,’ you know what I mean?
“It showed how much of a great person he was. He was always talking to me, always kept my head, even my first year out of the NBA he was telling me I would get back, that I was an NBA player, he always stayed positive with me.”
Those struggles to get back into the league must seem like a long time ago now to Anderson who has fully worked his way into Dwane Casey’s rotation on the strength of a dependable three-point shot and a lot of tough defence.
“He’s a consistent three-point shooter and that gives us another weapon off the bench,” Casey said. “Most of all, I love his toughness and that’s what we’re trying to create one through 15.”
And while Garnett plays the game at a different level than Anderson, the toughness is one thing both men bring to the table. Garnett, admittedly, takes even the tough guy thing to another level.
But knowing Garnett as well as he does, Anderson will not make the same mistake Ray Allen made in the season opener for the Celtics when he went over and tried to exchange pleasantries with a guy who may have had a role in inventing the term “game face.”
Garnett did not even acknowledge Allen’s presence when the former teammate and former member of Boston’s big three came over before the game and tried a pre-game greeting in his new Miami uniform.
“You don’t speak to KG until after the game,” Anderson said with a laugh. “You don’t say nothing to him because he’s (all business). You just leave him alone and don’t say nothing until after.”
Chances are the message is going to be nothing more than ‘thank you,’ but even that you don’t want to try before the game with Garnett.