Here’s why Kevin Garnett does his insane pregame routine


Kevin Garnett during a meaningless preseason game.

Most NBA players have some sort of pregame routine. Jason Terry’s involves chicken and opponent shorts. Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Garnett’s immediate pregame routine is a bit more, shall I say, elaborate. But it’s all with purpose, like everything else the 19-year veteran does when he’s near a basketball court.

First, a brief introduction to Garnett’s routine, from Andrew Keh of the New York Times:

Observing him before a game, one can almost hear a motorized crescendo, an apparatus whirring to life.

After the national anthem and the player introductions, after his team’s last pregame huddle, Garnett peels off his warm-up clothes and walks over to the basket and faces the padded stanchion. The arena is buzzing around him, but he sets himself to the side, a solitary figure.

Eyes down, he leans his forehead into the padding and begins adjusting his uniform, tucking his shirt into his shorts, stretching the elastic waistband, tugging on the drawstring. All the time, he is mumbling under his breath.

“It’s just total focus,” said Paul Pierce, who played six seasons with Garnett on the Boston Celtics before the two were traded to the Nets this summer. “He’s there getting his mind right to play.”

Things are simmering at this point, but Garnett is only beginning.

Andrew Keh, New York Times — Garnett Has a Precise System Before He’s a ‘Go’

Other Nets players have pregame routines, but none as intensified as Garnett. Keh describes Garnett’s full routine, which includes talcum powder and forehead-smashing. It’s a lifelong habit of Garnett’s that teammates and sports psychologists say is all to help him focus. “Some players like to be jovial before the game to release pressure,” Sam Mitchell, Garnett’s teammate for eight years, told Keh. “Kevin likes to build the pressure.”

Garnett’s trademark intensity is well-known, and it hasn’t taken a single microstep backwards, even after 19 years. His unrivaled focus and commitment to each drill makes him a focal point at all moments. It’s a major reason why we ranked him #1 in our Nets-Knicks power rankings. He sees no other way. As the Nets tip off their home opener against the Miami Heat tonight, try to quickly observe Garnett in the midst of his routine. You’ll see the pressure clicking in.