Kevin Garnett is something of a basketball monk, offering trinkets of wisdom in every press conference. So when he sat down for a long interview with Brooklyn Nets writer Lenn Robbins, he was no different.
Garnett discussed a wide range of topics with Robbins, including fatherhood, retirement, mentorship, and his relationship to basketball, which he calls his “spinal cord.”
Some snippets of the interview:
Sam Mitchell, his former Minnesota Timberwolves teammate when Garnett came into the league in 1995 as the No. 5 pick overall, was his primary professional mentor.
“He was always professional,” said Garnett. “He was confident in who he was. He was a leader. He didn’t follow. True leaders can look at themselves and say they messed up or they weren’t perfect but they gave everything. They cared. They cared, man.
“I have a father somewhere. I don’t know anything about him. But when I think about what I want a father to be, when I think about what a grown man should be, those are the things I think about.”
It is Garnett’s willingness to evaluate himself and ask questions of the world that has as much to do with his success as his 6-11, 253-pound frame and God-given athletic talent.
Whether it’s basketball, or his love for the Chelsea Football Club, or his thoughts on being an African-American male role model, Garnett is never satisfied with a superficial assessment.
He could walk away from the game at his choosing without any thought of the NBA’s future, but that would be the ultimate contradiction. Garnett has constantly referred to his game as a craft, a craft that must be perpetuated.
“I can’t help Mason if Mason is not receptive to light,” said Garnett. “Dark is stagnation. Life is movement. And I live by that.
“If you’re not open to change, if you’re not open to getting better and really being about it whole heartedly, I don’t see anything progressing. If a plant doesn’t take in light, it doesn’t grow. It doesn’t grow at all. And I teach them that.”
Garnett made this clear. He is not pondering retirement, nor has he started to sketch out a role that will allow him to help the young NBA players that want guidance to become stars on the court and solid men off it.
“We have business here,” he said. “There will be time to address those thoughts. But I think it’s essential. I don’t know what capacity it will be, but it’s needed, dude.”
Full interview below.