In the latest edition of our NBA’s greatest series, we remember Kevin Garnett.
For most part of the 2000’s, the Western Conference of the NBA boasted of some of the best players ever to grace the league. The competition was fierce, tough and always engaging. Built on the back of some of the best big men, the game was very different from what it is today, with games decided by scoring inside the paint rather than from outside the 3 point line.
Kevin Garnett was born in South Carolina and was ear marked as a special talent ever since high school. Always intense and gritty, Garnett grew up to love the game and eventually would get drafted straight after high school, the first player to do so in over 20 years. He paved the way for many future stars like Amar’e Stoudemire, LeBron James to make the leap directly to the NBA foregoing college basketball. The trend has picked up and is not considered as drastic a move as it did when Garnett first came into the league.
After “The Big Ticket” was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves, he led the team to multiple playoff appearances and almost made it to the Finals. Starting of as more of a traditional Power Forward, Garnett soon took control of the team and was playing more as a Point Forward. Leading the team in points, rebounds, steals, blocks and assists, Garnett would soon become one of the biggest stars of the league and eventually won the MVP in 2004, leading the league in rebounding.
Garnett was by now part of a good Minnesota team that went to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in history. But that was the best it got for the Wolves and after a couple of frustration filled campaigns, Garnett would join the Boston Celtics.
Joining forces with perennial All-Stars Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, Garnett would finally have a team that he could win the league with.
The Celtics went on a tear and stormed into the playoffs following a record start. The Celtics sailed through to the Finals and then beat arch rivals Los Angeles Lakers for their 17th Championship. Garnett also won the Defensive Player of the Year that year, cementing his legacy. Although he would not win another title, the Celtics did reach the NBA Finals in 2010 again, losing out to the Lakers in 7 games. The next year, the Big Four of Pierce, Allen, Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett would make the Conference Finals once more against all odds, but were beaten by LeBron James and the Miami Heat.
Garnett still had a few years left and joined the Brooklyn Nets to form another Super team with Paul Pierce, Deron Williams and Joe Johnson. But the Nets never really took off and could not land another title like they had expected to. With is twilight years nearing, KG joined the Wolves for one last season before his retirement.
Always reliable, Garnett was one of the best shooting big men in the league, adept at making mid range jumpers and also finishing from the post. He had a huge skill set and could easily maneuver his way into god looks and easy shots near the bucket as well as being able to assist his teammates at the same time. A fabulous rebounder and defender, Garnett in his prime was as good as they got. A great leader, mentor and motivator for his teams, Garnett instilled a certain work ethic and attitude in all the teams he played for and is now coaching current NBA stars and teams and still spreading his love for the game.
Photo by Keith Allison