The Last Of A Dying Breed: Kevin Garnett

There’s something about having a favorite player in any sport that makes you tune in even more than you already do. The investment you put in is beyond the comprehension of someone who doesn’t watch sports, and it’s really only appreciated by a fan who is as hardcore as you are about the game. For instance, in the case of Ed, no one can tell him anything about Russell Westbrook (and that’s not even his favorite player; merely one of his favorites). However, Ed feels a personal connection to the way Westbrook approaches the game, plays the game, wears his emotions on his sleeve, and the last thing Ed will do is not go to bat for him. When Westbrook needs to be reined in, simply from the writer standpoint, Ed can do that as well, but it’s always with the best intentions in mind. You never have to doubt the man’s sincerity.

When it comes to Kevin Garnett, that’s how I feel. The man is, literally, my favorite player in all of basketball today, and there really isn’t a close second. As much admiration as I have for the games of current players such as Dirk Nowitzki, LeBron James, Zach Randolph, Deron Williams and several others, none of those guys bring the mixture of admiration, appreciation and adulation that KG has brought since he stepped in the league in 1995. Outside of Allen Iverson, there’s not another player who has helped shape the way I view today’s game (well, there’s Michael Jordan, but I don’t count him, because he is God).

With that said, watching KG play the past several seasons has been a challenge. We know fans, as well-meaning as we are, tend to have revisionist history. Some people began to look at KG through a lens that troubled me. It seemed to stem more from what they were reading and being influenced by as opposed to what they, themselves, were actually witnessing. Sure, there were signs of wear and tear and even I mentioned that during the ETSF days, but it wasn’t rooted in some of the sacrilege that people were saying.

To watch Kevin Garnett play basketball is to see someone who is more passionate about playing the game than anyone I’ve ever seen do any kind of job, labor, skill or trade. Seriously, and this is only me talking: There may be other people who are better at what they do, in their respective industries, but there is no one I’ve seen who is more passionate about what they do, in their industry, as Kevin Garnett is when it comes to professional basketball. He's also one of the most intelligent players the league has ever known. To watch him on offense and, especially on defense, is a sight to see. He knows when to be patient and when to be aggressive. Not too many players have that trait. That's what basketball IQ is all about.

Why do you think the man gets so animated, so matter-of-fact, so defiant when people call him over-the-hill? Why do you think he clapped back at the owner of the Atlanta Hawks, a man who’s successful in his field, for talking out of line? Why do you think he plays with the desperation of a man who is still trying to prove himself, almost as if he’s playing for his first big contract, despite the fact that he’s made well over $150 million playing basketball? It’s because the passion, the drive, the determination to make the most of his opportunities burns within him more than any tangible reward one can offer.

Last year, this time last year, I saw that same fire burn within the superstar who is the reigning NBA Finals MVP, The Great Dirk. It’s as if something took over him and he went to a level that plenty of fans didn’t know he had, yet he knew was there, and he played as if it would disappear if he didn’t seize it right that moment. The numbers weren’t so much different as postseason’s past; rather, it was the mindset, the outer appearance, the things that fans who have watched the game for years, fans who invest time, money, feelings, passion and emotion into. We knew it when it came to the surface, and it was an honor to see, especially because it’s as if it hit him that this opportunity would never come again.

This postseason, that player is Kevin Garnett. This postseason, he’s playing like a man who realizes this opportunity will NEVER come again; not that it MIGHT NOT come again, not that it MAY NOT come again, but that it will NEVER come again. With this season being as wacky as it has been, my only hope is that the stench of bad luck, (aka, injuries) does not befall his team to the point of no return. As a fan, I can handle watching a team, or my favorite player, lose four times in a postseason when it’s on the up-and-up (aka, no untimely injuries, suspensions, etc). Hell, as a fan of sports, you better be able to handle that.

However, for someone we know is a part of a team who is definitely on their last leg, the hope is this last leg is a triumphant one for the man who is, without a doubt, one of the greatest to ever step on the hardwood floor, and who knows: maybe the wise words of The Greatest Winner in the History of the NBA will finally come to pass, as this interview from years ago suggests.

10 Replies to “The Last Of A Dying Breed: Kevin Garnett”

  1. Always loved KG. People love to pile on the guy the past few years and I never understood. KG always has been as fierce a competitor as there is, and all these years later he's still doing his thing.

  2. I've written on KG here before. Nothing but respect for dude. The third best big man of his era behind Shaq and Tim Duncan and that's more of a product of the teams they played on, but I digress.

    I can't have him messing up my goal this year. He's playing like it's 2003 all over again somehow. It's scaring me shitless.

    Dope stuff as always though, Kenny.

  3. I'm an admirer of KG as well. What I respect most is that I did not detect even a nanometer less intensity when he signed the famous 6 year, $126 million contract that caused the NBA to totally flip the ___ out. His contract changed the salary cap rules, changed free agency, changed the rookie contracts, and seemed to change everything and everyone - except KG. The man brought his hardhat and lunchbucket to work as if not a damn thing changed.

  4. by far the most dynamic power forward of my generation. No one could do what he could do. I consider he and Tim Duncan polar opposites because of the way they do things but imagine how dynamic the Spurs would have been with KG. Never has a PF been as electric on both sides of the ball as KG. Not saying he is better than Duncan but a case can be made.

  5. Enjoyed the read Kenny...once again you left be pondering how we agree on so much about sports minus football team to root for.

    Enjoyed the articled and it saddens me the lack of passion with NBA players these days. I guess that's why I like Rondo and Rose so much and why OKC is getting my attention in spite of their shady franchise history (#SaveTheSonics).

  6. I've always been a KG fan for nothing but intensity that he brought/brings to the game. From his days as 'Da Kid' to now, the only difference is the wear and tear on the body. Some jumper, same post moves, same everything, and he still gets it done.

    As Joe said, I often wondered how many ships the Spurs would have won if you would have swapped KG for Duncan. They basically put up the same numbers throughout their careers, just that they did it in different ways and TD has more rings. I always felt bad for KG when he was in Minny, because he only had one year, or maybe two (if you consider Marbury and Googs) where he had the help to get to the Finals. I think I shed a man tear when the KG/Celtics won because at least one of my favorite PFs in the game got a ring (Barkley was the other one).

    KG makes this Celtics team dangerous if he keeps puttin up these 20 and 10 games.

  7. One of my all-time favorites as well, nothing was better than seeing him and the celtics win in 2008. You see his teachings and basketball i.q. getting passed down to rondo with the ways he improved since being the other guy on that 2008 team. The 2008-2010 Celtics are one of my favorite teams of all-time and I'm far from a Celtics fan. Honestly they would of had a 3-peat if it wasn't for injuries in '09 with garnett and '10 with perkins in the finals.

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