November 29, 2015, Los Angeles Laker lifer and arguably one of the best to ever play professional basketball, Kobe Bryant, announced his retirement plans after. On April 13, 2016, we watched Kobe play his final NBA game in a typical Kobe-fashion, scoring 60 points.
July 11, 2016, was the day notable and one of the best power forwards Tim Duncan announced his retirement from the NBA after 19 seasons with San Antonio.
September 23, 2016 — 33 days away from the beginning of the 2016-17 NBA season — Kevin Garnett announced his retirement from the league after completing a buyout contract in an Instagram video.
Now, inevitably, about 20 years later, all three careers are done. It’s the end of an era.
Tim Duncan was drafted in 1997, Kobe Bryant in 1996 and Kevin Garnett was the fifth choice pick in 1995 by the Minnesota Timberwolves, straight outta high-school.
KG gained an abundance of attention while playing basketball at Farragut Academy in Chicago, but his SAT scores were not high enough to play at the college level. So when he was 19 he declared from the draft, and never looked back.
During his early days in the league, he received the nickname “The Big Ticket” that stuck with him forever. The Timberwolves were horrible back then, but it didn’t stop him from putting on a show. People began calling Garnett “The Big Ticket” because he was the only reason people filled the arena every night, especially during those difficult winters. He was also known as “The Kid” and “The Franchise” for the influence he had on the team.
How did he get through the tiring mornings? “Too much coffee. Too much coffee and Gatorade. It’s a hell of a mix. If you’re ever tired in the morning, just try that mix, and tell me what you think.”
Sports Illustrated calls him “one of the greatest two-way big men ever.”
Garnett was a 15-time NBA All-Star and in 2003-04, he was the league MVP.
He gave us 21 seasons of #21 (switched to #5 with the Celtics and #2 with the Brooklyn Nets) and ended with #21 on the same team he started with.
He was the oldest to play last season. He was the last active NBA player to have played an NBA game against Magic Johnson. He played against a bunch of current NBA Players’ fathers: Dell Curry who is Stephen and Seth Curry’s dad, Tim Hardaway which you know is Tim Hardaway Jr.’s father, and Terry Davis, who is Ed Davis’ dad. Garnett is so old that the current Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens is actually younger than him, and KG was drafted before D’Angelo Russel and Jamal Murray were even born!
Some fans online joked around and said he unofficially became the first player to play 20+ seasons without gaining a pound, because he hasn’t changed at all.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver thanked Kevin Garnett for his “sustained excellence and the enormous impact he’s had on the game.”
The type of character he was will be unforgettable as well. We will remember the way he would mentally prepare himself before games by banging his head against a padded basketball stanchion. He was aggressive and had legendary passion and intensity which showed through every play. Garnett said he’s “not the type of person to give up just because something gets rough. That’s a coward. That’s not me.” Besides his serious, extreme competitiveness, KG said he had a “problems sometimes with being too hyper.” With all that energy, aside from being a future hall of famer, he’s also an all-time trash talker.
Zak Boisvert from @PickAndPopNet referred to Garnett has the greatest pick and roll defender of all-time.
He will be remembered for taunting his rivals — like that time he told Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony his wife LaLa (Anthony) tasted like Honey Nut Cheerios even though there was no tangible evidence — his permanent sneer and belligerent nature on the court.
It’s what made him, him. It’s why you either loved or hated him. He was a jerk on the court that you would only be claim if he was on your team.
He belonged to the T-Wolves, no matter how much Celtics loved him. And they loved him a lot.
Celtic Co-Owner and Managing Partner Wycliffe Grosbeak said “everything changed the day Kevin arrived in Boston. From that moment we knew we would get to the Finals and have a chance to win.”
And exactly that, being named the 2007-08 Defensive Player of the Year, his first season away from Minnesota and with Boston, he lead the Celtics to a championship.
It was a difficult path, playing 26 post-season, but the Celtics won 4–2 against the Los Angeles Lakers, capturing their first championship since 1986, and seventeenth in franchise history. It was the rebirth of the biggest rivalry story in basketball, Magic Johnson Laker vs. Larry Bird Celtic rivalry from the early ‘90s.
This would be his one and only ring, along with the gold medal he won as a member of the USA Men’s Basketball team in the 2000 Summer Olympics.
Danny Ainge, the Celtics President of Basketball Operations said “very few players can affect an organization like Kevin did here in Boston, both on and off the court. Kevin earned his place among the greatest players in Celtic and NBA history.”
The run Garnett had with the Celtics was legendary, forming brotherly relationships with teammates Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo. They lit up the TD Garden and went on numerous playoff streaks, igniting passion through the city of Boston that was once there with Larry Bird.
2010 was one of the most memorable finals when the Celtics eliminated the Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Orlando Magic to advance to face the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2010 NBA Finals. These Finals went to a heart-racing game seven in Los Angeles, where the Celtics looked like they would win well into the third quarter before the Lakers came back and held on for the win.
Kobe Bryant went on to tell TNT’s Ernie Johnson that his favorite championship was when “we beat Boston in 2010, for me, that’s number one with a bullet. Going up against three sure Hall of Famers, being down in the series 3-2, having lost to them in 2008, understanding the history of the rivalry and all that goes on there. Having a broken finger and playing with a cast. All those things make that championship more special than the rest.”
On June 28, 2013, the Boston Celtics and the Brooklyn Nets reached a deal to trade Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry for future first-round picks in 2014, 2016, and 2018 drafts. After only 2 seasons, he returned to Minnesota in 2015. Garnett’s first dunk in a Timberwolves uniform in eight and a half years, and unfortunately for Blake Griffin, was definitely worth getting a technical.
Play-by-play announcer for the NBA on TNT Kevin Harlan classic reaction to Kevin Garnett’s aggressive playing is remembered when he dramatically said: “Kevin Garnett’s gone crazy! … He… he’s got Mad Cow Disease!”
@LegionHoops reported that Kevin Garnett walks away from the NBA earning $326,304,240 in contracts.
He was the third all-time player, behind Karl Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to score 25,000 points, snatch 10,000 rebound and share 5,000 assists.
But there’s an ending to every story. Many knew this book would be ending sooner rather than later when back in July, T-Wolves owner Glen Taylor had a conversation with Garnett:
“I just asked him, ‘Kevin, what are you going to do?’ His answer was, ‘I’d really like to play next year ‘cuz I’d like to go out knowing we got into the playoffs,’ ” Taylor said.
“Then he said, ‘I don’t know if I can.’
“I asked him, ‘What does that mean?’ And he said, ‘I don’t know.’
Clearly, he wasn’t sure his body could take the punishment of another long grueling NBA season, especially with a nagging knee injury.
KG, you were and always will be one of the realest players to ever play the game.
On Instagram before you said farewell you thanked us for the journey, and we want to thank you for the memories, intensity and reminding us that anything is possible! (INSERT VIDEO)