Weight: 250 lbs.
Date of Birth: May 19, 1976
Years Pro: 19
Before NBA: Farragut Academy High School (Illinois)
Nickname: The Big Ticket, KG
No longer just the great communicator on the court in the final stage of his career, Kevin Garnett has evolved into the NBA’s sage luminary, weaving verbal mosaics about the importance of hard work and communication with stories from his 19 years as a professional athlete. Impossible to predict, difficult to decipher, and magnetic in elocution, Garnett speaks in clouded metaphors, likening milk-chugging to ball-handling and Joe Johnson to Jesus Christ, while peppering in meaningful anecdotes about any one of his hundreds of teammates and former coaches.
He screams at teammates and opponents with reckless abandon, curses himself in practice, and once he’s gathered himself to speak with the press, conveys a thoughtfulness equally revealing and distancing. He even makes comparing his jump shot to a booty call sound like modern philosophy. He’s back to live and die by every possession for one more year.
Though he hasn’t committed to anything beyond this season, it’s most likely Garnett’s farewell tour, with $12 million left on his NBA contract and close to 55,000 minutes on his career odometer (including playoffs). He mulled retirement after the 2012-13 season before agreeing to play one more year in Brooklyn, then decide to stick it out for the rest of the season.
“I prepared myself this offseason, like I (always) have,” Garnett mused early in training camp. “Not last year, because I was indecisive about what I wanted to do…this year I knew exactly what I wanted to do and I did that throughout the whole summer. So I’m in better spirits because I know what I’m here to do this year.”
“I’m here to enjoy this. You never know when it’s going to be your last.”
There’s nothing about Kevin Garnett’s on-court game that hasn’t been chronicled in a thousand places. He’s got one of the best mid-range jumpers in the league and a keen eye for floor space on the offensive end. You won’t see him put the ball on the floor, but he’ll set screens, hit turnaround jumpers, and throw down the occasional open dunk.
While he goes out of his way to say he’s not a “primary” option on the team, that’s only on the offensive side of the floor; the Nets played at an elite level defensively with him manning the middle, and posted a defensive rating better than any NBA team with him on the floor in the calendar year 2014, thanks to his still-nimble feet inside, his constant barking at teammates, and opponents’ aversion to attacking the basket with him in the lane.
By name alone, Garnett’s earned the right from Nets coach Lionel Hollins to be the team’s starting power forward, despite playing more effectively at center last season. Though Jason Kidd only played Garnett 20.5 minutes per game last season and often no longer than five-minute spurts, Hollins says he plans to play Garnett much longer than that.
He came through on that promise early, sending Garnett out for a stretch of 7:15 to open up the first preseason game against Maccabi Tel Aviv. It won’t be the last time he plays that long this season… though it might be the last time he plays at all.