How can you not harbor much love for KG? The Sports Guy does:
He transformed the culture of the team. He taught everyone to care about defense, to care about practice, to care about being a professional, to care about leaving everything they had on the court, to stop caring about stats and start caring about wins. He single-handedly transformed the careers of three young players (Rajon Rondo, Leon Powe and Kendrick Perkins), one veteran (Pierce) and one coach (Doc Rivers), all five of whom could have gone the other way. He played every exhibition game like it was the seventh game of the Finals. During blowouts, he stood on the sidelines and cheered on his teammates like it was a tight game; because of that, the bench guys did the same thing for the starters and basically turned into a bunch of giddy scrubs on a 14-seed in a March Madness upset during every game.
The best word for him would either be “contagious” or “selfless.” By Thanksgiving, the entire team was emulating him. Every time a young player got carried away with himself during a game — like the time Perkins started going for his own stats or the time Rondo snapped at his coach — KG was there to set him straight and scare the living hell out him. Every time one of his teammates was intimidated, KG had his back. Every time one of his teammates got knocked down, KG rushed over to pick him up; eventually, four teammates were rushing over to help that fifth guy up, and that’s just the way it goes with the team now. Every time an opponent kept going for a shot after a whistle, KG defiantly blocked the shot just out of principle. Eventually, everyone started doing it. No shots after the whistle against the Celtics. That was the rule. It was a series of little things, baby steps if you will, but they added up to something much bigger.
I don’t think there’s a Minnesotan who doesn’t wish KG well. Even if you don’t care about basketball, you can’t help but admire a player who has always shunned playing superstar in favor of being a great teammate. It’s probably part of why he’s never been the endgame assassin that MJ was and Kobe and Lebron are, but it’s also why he’s so well-loved everywhere he goes.
Spacebunny and I once saw him at a steakhouse, and while it’s not exactly possible for a 7-foot tall All-Star to be unassuming, that’s how he carried himself. KG is a competitor – he wants to win and he wants to win very badly indeed – but he clearly doesn’t think the world revolves around him.