Kevin Garnett was an NBA trendsetter, and he got to do something so few athletes get to do in their careers. He went home and made a difference.
After spending the past season and a half with the Minnesota Timberwolves, who originally drafted him fifth overall out of high school in 1995, the 2008 NBA Defensive Player of the Year called it quits earlier this month. Garnett, the 2003 All-Star Game MVP, had spent his second stint in Minnesota mainly as a veteran adviser and leader for some of the younger players, including last year’s Rookie of the Year, Karl-Anthony Towns.
Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, who helped re-acquire “The Big Ticket” during the 2014-15 season in a trade with the Brooklyn Nets, said the following last week in a press release shared by NBA.com.
“It has been a real joy to watch KG come into the league as a young man and watch him develop his skills to become one of the very best in the NBA. I have treasured the opportunity to see him grow as a leader. I wish him continued success in the next chapter of his life. His Minnesota fans will always cherish the memories he has provided.”
The MVP of the 2003-04 season after a campaign in which he averaged 24.2 points, 13.9 rebounds, five assists, 2.2 blocks, and 1.5 steals per game, Garnett concludes his career with 15 All-Star Games, 12 All-Defense teams, and 12 All-NBA teams in addition to his 2008 NBA Finals victory. Despite winning his only NBA title and Defensive Player of the Year Award as a member of the Boston Celtics’ big three, Garnett is forever going to be remembered as a Minnesota Timberwolves legend, and the player the Brooklyn Nets gave up multiple first-round picks for.
Garnett joins former rivals Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan as NBA legends who hung their sneakers up in the past few months. For a time, the debate about Garnett and Duncan was common among many fans, although things eased up in later years as Garnett began to battle father time, and Duncan remained a productive player for the San Antonio Spurs.
Currently, Garnett’s post-NBA career remains unknown, although ESPN reported Thursday that teams are already looking to add him as a coach. One such team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, is coached by Tyronn Lue, one of Garnett’s former assistant coaches in Boston. Lue, the first coach since Pat Riley with the 1981-82 Lakers to win a title as a midseason replacement, spoke after a Cavaliers practice about adding “The Big Ticket” as a member of the staff.
“I talked to him about it. I know his wife is pushing for it a lot. Brandi is pushing for it, trying to get him to come and coach. He says he’s not ready yet. He goes back — ‘I might do it’ — but he’s back and forth. We’ll see. But I’d definitely make a spot for him if he wanted to come back and coach…. One of the easiest guys to coach as far as being a superstar, as far as telling him what to do, they would do it. If they didn’t like what you were doing, they’d call you out to the side and tell you. They’d never call you out in front of everybody. Just having respect for everybody from the janitor to the owner. That’s our motto. Him, Kobe [Bryant] and [Tim] Duncan at the same time is bad for the game. But we all get old. It’s all part of the game.”
Regardless if he goes into coaching, broadcasting, or doing Nationwide commercials alongside Peyton Manning, Garnett will definitely be missed. While many have honored the 2008 NBA champion by sharing memories or pictures, one NBA fan decided to do something different. A YouTube user, MilesDawkins247, used his extensive collection of NBA video games to take us ‘through the years’ with Garnett, starting all the way back in 1996 with NBA Live 97.
The glaring thing that most fans will notice throughout the video is just how far sports gaming has come not just in terms of graphics, but in animations and how the gameplay looks. At one point, you’ll see Garnett leap nearly twenty feet into the air to make a simple dunk move due to how older games were coded. Fans may also be surprised at some of the ratings, especially when Garnett goes from a 90 in NBA 2K10 to just an 80 the next year.
The video is extremely well-done by Dawkins, who shares both the ratings of the former first-round pick in the video game and the real-life numbers from that season. Going back and watching Garnett dominate against Shaquille O’Neal and the old-school Los Angeles Lakers will send nostalgic chills down some fans’ necks, as will getting one last glance at Garnett and Paul Pierce in a Brooklyn Nets uniform. Though, some Nets fans may instead be reminded of how former general manager Billy King mortgaged the team’s entire future for a combined 206 regular season games of Garnett, Pierce, and Jason Terry.
As one of the NBA’s premier big men for so long, Garnett was often featured in promotional pictures for the newest basketball video games, and he graced the covers of both NBA Live 2001 and NBA 2K9. Garnett’s appearance in NBA 2K9 was not only his final 99 overall rating, but it was also the second-to-last time he’d have an overall in the 90’s (the fifteen-time All-Star was a flat 90 in NBA 2K10 before spending the rest of his game career in the low 80’s to the high 70’s).
Dawkins, a diehard San Francisco 49ers fan, has also done “Through The Years” for other athletes, including LeBron James, Tom Brady, Kobe Bryant, Peyton Manning, Brian Urlacher, Vince Carter, and even JaMarcus Russell. An entire playlist of his NFL “Through The Years” videos is attached below.
[Featured Image by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images]