Kevin Garnett was one of the greatest all-around power forwards in NBA history and one of the most cutthroat competitors that the game has ever seen. While playing in an NBA era alongside several other top-tier power forwards, Garnett’s intensity and extraordinary skill on both ends of the court enabled him to earn that very distinction. Garnett, who became known by many as “The Big Ticket,” was one of the league’s most formidable forces amid his 21-year playing career.
Following Garnett’s standout high school basketball career, first at Mauldin High School and later at Farragut Career Academy, he became the first teenage basketball phenom in two decades to enter the NBA Draft straight out of high school. He was selected No. 5 overall in the 1996 NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves, a franchise that had been added to the league’s expansion six years earlier. Garnett would emerge to become the franchise’s first bona fide superstar. By his second season, Garnett was selected to play in the NBA All-Star Game — marking his first of an astounding 15 All-Star appearances total throughout his career. Garnett would lead the Timberwolves franchise to their first eight playoff appearances spanning from 1996-97 – 2003-04. In 1999-00, Garnett earned his first of an eventual four All-NBA First Team selections, as well as his first of an eventual record-tying nine NBA All-Defensive First Team selections. He would help lead the United States to capture the gold medal in the summer of 2000. In 2003-04, Garnett was named the MVP of the NBA. His 2003-04 MVP season would mark his first of four consecutive rebounding titles.
The Timberwolves began their tedious playoff drought in the 2004-05 season. In the summer of 2007, Garnett was traded by the rebuilding Timberwolves team to the Boston Celtics, giving him the opportunity to join forces with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen — two of the purest shooters and consistent superstars of all time. Garnett had an outstanding inaugural season playing for Boston, winning the 2007-08 Defensive Player of the Year award and helping lead the historic franchise to their first championship in over two decades. Garnett and the Celtics were just one game away from winning another title in 2009-10. After being traded to the Brooklyn Nets late in his career, Garnett, in full-circle fashion, retired where his NBA journey began: in a Timberwolves uniform.
Throughout Garnett’s 21-year NBA playing career, he amassed an illustrious resume full of accolades and success. As one of the most versatile and polished “big men” ever, Garnett became the only NBA player in history to record career regular-season milestones of 25,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 5,000 assists, 1,500 steals, and 1,500 blocked shots. He also stands as one of only five players in history to have captured at least one MVP award and one Defensive Player of the Year award (the others: Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, and Giannis Antetokounmpo). On the court, Garnett personified both the vehement spirit of a striking competitor and the humanitarian spirit of an all-time great team leader. His place in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is a fitting honor for this legend.