Kevin Garnett Is a Master of Metaphor

Slate's Culture Blog
Nov. 8 2012 2:07 PM

Kevin Garnett Is a Master of Metaphor

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Kevin Garnett

Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Late last night, SB Nation flagged a funny metaphor made by Celtics big man Kevin Garnett as he attempted to explain his team’s lack of chemistry early in the new NBA season. “You can't speed chemistry up,” he said. “You got Comcast. Some shows you can’t fast forward through, you got to let it go through and watch the silly-ass commercials and be pissed, right?”

David Haglund David Haglund

David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog. Follow him on Twitter.

It was an amusing exchange, made more amusing by the fact that, as Business Insider noted today, “Comcast SportsNet New England owns the broadcasting rights to Celtics games in the Boston area.” It was also more creative than what was previously his most inventive metaphor in an explanation for the lack of team chemistry:

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Chemistry is something that you don’t just throw in the frying pan and mix it up with another something, then throw it on top of something, then fry it up and put it in a tortilla and put in a microwave, heat it up and give it to you and expect it to taste good. You know? For those of you who can cook, y’all know what I'm talking about. If y’all can’t cook, this doesn’t concern you.

Still, on the list of great Kevin Garnett metaphors and similes, both of these fall pretty far down. As the blog CelticsHub noted last year, the man has a gift for figurative language that few Hall of Fame-caliber athletes can match. When his team had only four assists at half-time in a March 2011 game, for instance, Garnett compared the incident to an unlikely animal. “That’s like a green squirrel,” he said. “Like, ‘What’s going on?’ ” He has also compared fellow NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal to fresh laundry and playing for coach Doc Rivers to coming home to a birthday cake.

And he is fond of extended metaphors, or conceits:

If I was a Caesar salad, the croutons would be my friends, the lettuce would be my family and the dressing itself would be my mom. Because you can have the lettuce and the croutons, and it can be called a Caesar, but until you have the dressing and it actually tastes like a Caesar…

Not surprisingly, though, Garnett has created his greatest metaphors when describing what it’s like to play basketball. Sometimes it’s like walking through a field of tall grass, he says, and sometimes it’s like walking out into cold weather with water on your hands. Confused? Let the man himself explain: