Farewell, Kevin Garnett
I don’t know of an NBA without Kevin Garnett. I don’t know what it’s like to turn on the TV and not see the fiercely competitive fire that emits from the 6’11 power forward on a nightly basis. I’ve never wanted to know, but 21 years later, this is the somber reality.
Garnett was drafted in June of 1995, a month after I was born. I grew up with him as he evolved into one the most illustrious superstars the NBA had ever seen. I watched a young, lanky kid grow into the esteemed hero that I undyingly worshipped and defended ruthlessly. I wanted nothing more than for him to win at the highest level because I knew there was no one more deserving.
It’s hard for me to put KG’s career in words; this is someone who gave his absolute all on every play and only asked for pure effort from those around him. He did everything possible just to taste victory and nothing was more inspiring to me than watching him play.
As a competitor, you hated playing against him, but you’d kill to be his teammate and have that guy on your side. He was the first to have your back and bring every ounce of fire and passion out of you. His energy was contagious; I could feel it every game from thousands of miles away.
The news of The Big Tickets’ retirement was inevitable, but it still seemed unreal. Even after 21 seasons, I saw him as an ironman that could play forever, despite being 40 years old with a body that had sustained some serious mileage.
Other than the incredible player that Garnett was, I’ll miss his eccentric off-the-court mannerisms that no other can emulate. Between his hilarious (often food-related) analogies and perennially quotable bluntness, you couldn’t escape this guy, even if you were crazy enough to want to.
The absolute epitome of being the ultimate competitor who would do anything to win, Garnett retires as arguably the greatest defensive player the league has known. He came into the Association at the ripe age of 19, and over two decades later, he is leaving with 1,462 games played, over 50,000 minutes logged, and a lifetime of accolades that sit atop the all-time ranks.
The former MVP, Olympic gold medalist, record breaker, and NBA champion will live on with the everlasting impact he left on the league and his influence over the up-and-coming stars of the future. He gave everything to this game and I’m forever indebted to him for giving me my love of basketball.
That undeniable grit and undying passion were infectious. The fact that the fire within him burned steady for 21 straight seasons is unreal. This guy was cut from a different, albeit crazy cloth that couldn’t be duplicated. It still leaves me in awe to know that someone of that caliber was omnipresent throughout my life.
Kevin Garnett came into the NBA as ‘Da Kid,’ but he now leaves as one of the greatest to ever hit the hardwood. He has gone on record saying that following his retirement, he would disappear, and if anyone wanted to find him, he’d be at a YMCA somewhere in Malibu. I’m sure the stanchion in that basketball gym will hold KG’s permanent indent.
KG’s exit video to the fans tells his appreciation for the game and all those who stuck with him through the journey as he shares “For [the love] to be reality is just something else. I don’t expect this to be easy man, but so far, so good.”
The lasting legacy of Kevin Garnett will never fade; his imprint is laden on the NBA and the players who loved and idolized the future Hall of Famer the way I did.
A lifetime of inspiration, perspiration, and pure love: thanks, Big Ticket. You were the only one of your kind. And there will never be another.