The legendary Kevin Garnett announced his retirement today. KG as he is commonly referred to played 21 Hall of Fame seasons in the NBA, 13 plus of which were with the team that drafted him, the Minnesota Timberwolves. KG, also known as “The Big Ticket”, served this past season in a mentor type role for the younger players, in particular a rising superstar and the 2016 Rookie of the Year in Karl Anthony-Towns. The Wolves and KG reached a buyout on his contract so that he could retire. Early on in his career, Garnett led the Wolves to the playoffs for an impressive eight consecutive seasons, including an appearance in the Western Conference Finals in 2004. Garnett carried this franchise on his back from day one when he was drafted straight out of high school with the number five pick in the 1995 NBA draft, a rare accomplishment at the time. Garnett was the first player drafted directly out of high school since 1975.
Kevin Garnett was traded to the Boston Celtics in 2007. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen won an NBA championship in 2008, their first season together. This would be the only championship that KG would win in his legendary career, but that is just part of the long list of accolades that KG holds throughout his career. KG won the MVP award during the 2003-2004 season and was selected to nine All-NBA Teams, 12 All-Defensive Teams, and played in a remarkable 15 All Star Games during his career. Garnett averaged 17.8 points, 10 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.4 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game. He combined the rare ability to dominate both ends of the floor and could hurt you in many ways offensively. He had a great post up game, but also had a nice mid range jumper and was very effective in the pick and roll throughout his career. Garnett was an intimidating force throughout his career and made his presence felt on the court. Where does Garnett stand amongst the greatest players in Timberwolves history? That question is very simple. He is by far the greatest player in franchise history and he has the stats to back it up.
Kevin Garnett is the franchise’s all time leader in numerous categories, including games played (970), minutes (36,189), points (19,201) rebounds (10,718), blocked shots (1,590), assists (4,216), steals (1,315), double-doubles (607), and triple-doubles (16). Those numbers are incredible and many of them will be tough to beat. It is rare for players to play long enough with one franchise to put up those kind of numbers, but Garnett was able to do so. The impressive thing is that KG went up against some of the games all time great power forwards in Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki just to name a couple. Where do these numbers stack up against the all time greats of the game?
Kevin Garnett retires being ranked 5th in games played (1,462), 3rd in minutes (50,418), 17th in points (26,071), 11th in field goals made (10,505), 9th in total rebounds (11,453), 16th in steals (1,859), and 17th in blocks (2,037). That recipe of statistics jumps out and solidifies his place as a future Hall of Famer. Great players also make their legacy in the playoffs. Garnett appeared in 143 playoff games in his 21 seasons with impressive averages of 18.2 points per game, 10.7 rebounds per game, 1.3 blocks per game, and 1.2 steals per game. As I previously mentioned, Garnett won his only championship in 2008 with the Boston Celtics, but he also appeared in the 2010 NBA Finals in which the Celtics lost to their longtime rival, the Los Angeles Lakers.
Garnett leaves a legacy that will last forever and really set the tone for big men that can stretch the floor and shoot a as well as play in the post. Growing up watching Garnett was a true joy and seeing the effort that he gave on the floor was a huge part of his greatness. Kevin Garnett joins Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan in retirement this season. Many of the greats from my childhood are starting to call it a career and they have had lasting memories that I will never forget. It is going to be very weird watching NBA games this season and not seeing Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, and Tim Duncan playing the game of basketball. That will be a very impressive Hall of Fame class when the time comes for them to be eligible. The Timberwolves are a young up and coming team that is on the rise and is led by an impressive core of young players such as Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Karl Anthony-Towns has the ability to be the next great player in Wolves history and has the potential to be as dominant as Garnett. The Lakers are a young team in a rebuild that hopefully learned a lot from Kobe in terms of how to be a professional and how to play the game with heart, passion, and a killer mentality. Tim Duncan is the first of the Spurs trio to retire, but his legacy will never be forgotten. A young All Star named LaMarcus Aldridge is entering his second season with the team and is the most similar player to Duncan that is in the league in my opinion. The league won’t be the same without these three legends, but hopefully the other players I mentioned have learned a lot from watching these three legendary players and being mentored by these true legends and veterans of the game.
Author: Nick Eberhardt
Image From USA Today