Reflecting on the legend of a legend
By Matthew Gozzip Athletics Editor
A blizzard storms through Minneapolis – a small village tucked away in the most remote regions of the National Basketball Association (NBA).
The bombardment of sleet blinds any who come near, the cold whiteness just as cruel as the bleakest darkness.
A small quake erupts from within the dormant Target Center. The villagers are perplexed. They haven’t set foot inside that arena in nearly a decade.
Great battles of basketball were once held there, where warriors from the distant lands, like the grisly Sczerbiak from Spain and the wayward Wisconsonite Spreewell, protected the town. Even alien species like S’am Cass-E-ll came from other planets to defend Minneapolis’ honor.
Legend has it that there was one particular individual that truly dominated the field, a man tall as a tree with the agility and dexterity of a timber wolf. He was so intimidating that during one battle he reduced his own ally to tears.
The doors to the Target Center flung open.
A godly sage appeared before them all. His beautiful bald head glistened amidst the snow, a beacon of hope for better times. An impeccably coiffed graying goatee indicated his wisdom. He was holding a chunk of a basketball stanchion with his head imprinted in it.
He smiled a devilish, angelic, frightening, and beautiful smile.
And the whole village remembered him: it was “The Big Ticket”, “KG”, the baddest baller during a particularly rugged period in NBA history.
It was the savior, Kevin Garnett.
Kevin Garnett means a lot of things to a lot of people.
To me, he is a folk hero.
When I was six, my father bought me the book, “At the Buzzer!: Havlicek Steals, Erving Soars, Magic Deals, Michael Scores!”.
He probably bought it because I liked picture books and this particular book had a ton of them. Little did I know that “At The Buzzer” was the most comprehensive anthology of NBA basketball history at the time. Kevin Garnett wrote the foreword to the book when he was barely coming into his prime and I was astounded at how wise he sounded.
Even though I followed the Lakers, I also followed Kevin Garnett. I didn’t make enough money from chores to save up for a jersey, the ultimate sign of loyalty in the sports world, but I made sure to read Minnesota Timberwolves box scores, the team he played on, to see how well he performed.
KG defied reality for me. This slim power forward outmuscled centers bigger than him and eluded backcourt players that were smaller than him. From 2005 to 2011, there was nobody that could defend as well as he could.
More than anything though, KG’s mentality was what made him a transcendent player. One time in a game, he missed a free throw. Instead of brushing it off, KG smacked the ball on his head seven times and yelled at it.
Four smacks to the head is standard frustration for a person.
Five smacks is extreme anger.
Six smacks is borderline maniacal behavior.
KG did it seven times.
Tyronn Lue, his former teammate, recently shared a story of how KG got so excited when he was watching Puff Daddy’s show, “Making the Band”, that he was sweating and yelling while rooting for a new singing group to take the spot of an incumbent group. He was so emotional that he head-butted a hole in the wall.
Nobody else had that level of sheer lunacy in the NBA, a game predicated on finesse and graceful acrobatics. Strangely enough, everyone fed off KG’s distinct aura: coaches, teammates and fans alike. Some say they are unnecessary antics, but it can’t be refuted; KG made everyone feel excited.
Even though KG never brought a title to Minnesota, the city fell in love with him. In a small market with a blue collar attitude, tenacity was just as important a trait as anything.
Whenever Garnett played, no matter who it was for, his team had a chance to win. The dude was borderline insane. He yelled when he lost. He yelled when he was victorious. Garnett proved craziness is a beneficial attribute.
History will be kind to Garnett, the man who had it all worked as hard as the man who had little. The man with little resonated with that belief, that the sometimes insane pursuits for greatness pay off if they never gave up.
To put that rhetoric in a more relatable Garnettian perspective: ANYTHING IS POSSSSIBBBBBLLLLLLLE.