I feel a little under-qualified to be writing this article. See, I’m the mirror image of most Timberwolves fans; I cheer for the Celtics, but I adopted Minnesota as my Western Conference team thanks to my close(ish) proximity to the Target Center after Kevin Garnett had already been traded away. I witnessed from a distance his maturation as a young player coming from high school to the pros, his gigantic contract, his All-NBA teams, his first round playoff frustrations, and his MVP and ’04 playoff run. I never connected with him during his formative years; I cheered for him mainly because I wanted to see him knock off the Lakers. (Speaking of which, here’s an unprovoked shot at the defending-champs-who-are-defending-no-longer that made me feel great for a couple minutes.)
But as you watch the Celtics/Heat game tonight (and I encourage you to do so; chances are good that it will be incredibly competitive, and oddly meaningful) keep in mind that Garnett is considering retiring instead of returning for a strike-shortened season next year, which would mean that tonight could conceivably be the final game of his wonderful career.
So as a fan of both Boston and Minnesota, allow me the liberty to remind you to remember Kevin Garnett.
Remember how he gave a crap every single night of his career, how he played with an unmatchable ferocity and passion, how he bashed his head against the basket frame to psych himself up before games, how he undoubtedly worked his ass off on both ends of the court.
Remember how desperately he wanted to win, and how he was selfless (to a fault), a defensive minded player who played the game the way it should be played, and in the process helped destroy the rather ridiculous stereotype that all NBA stars care about is padding their own offensive stats within the larger scope.
Remember how he never forgot where he came from, even when he was on top of the world. (“This is for everybody in ‘Sota…“)
Remember how he helped young players develop, stood up for his teammates, and created a culture in which a teammate knocked over had to be helped up by every teammate on the court. Remember how he cheered on teammates from the bench during blowouts like the 12th man on a 15 seed squad during March Madness.
Tonight might be Kevin Garnett’s last game in the NBA. Obviously, I’m hoping it isn’t. But if it is, it’s been an amazing run and a Hall of Fame career.