By announcing his retirement today, Kevin Garnett has completed the holy basketball trinity by joining Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan as NBA legends riding into the sunset this year.
When 18-year old Garnett was drafted in 1995, he wasn’t the first player to skip college and go straight to the pros. But he instantly became the benchmark for what high school players were expected to be once they entered the NBA. Only Kobe Bryant exceeded him.
Over the span of his 20-year career Garnett was one of the most impactful players in NBA history. At 6’11 he possessed skills and agility that few, if any, men his size had. Garnett revolutionized the power forward position with his speed and ball handling, forcing the entire league to re-think how basketball is meant to be played. While he was obviously an offensive juggernaut, his defensive prowess was just as awesome as he was a 9-time All-NBA Defensive Team member.
Aside from his physical abilities, Garnett was also known for his unmatched intensity. He approached every game like it was a war, with opponents, and sometimes even his own teammates catching his wrath.
He spent most of his career toiling in Minnesota with the Timberwolves team that drafted him. Garnett’s loyalty to the team despite their inability to advance deep in the playoffs was commended by many, but he eventually grew tired of not winning championships and brokered a trade to the Boston Celtics in 2007. He would win his first championship in his first season with the Celtics and played championship level basketball for most of his time there.
After leaving the Celtics in 2013 he spent a couple uneventful seasons with the Brooklyn Nets where he became known more for picking fights than setting pick-and-rolls. He returned to the Timberwolves in 2015 to act as a mentor to the young team, especially future star Karl-Anthony Towns.
While the news isn’t necessarily “news” since Garnett’s best days have been behind him for some time now. But basketball fans are still reacting nonetheless.