I was very bored waiting in line for Ray Allen’s new Jordan Brand shoes (Anticipation), when I decided to remember what it was like on July 31, 2007 when the announcement came that Kevin Garnett had been traded to the Boston Celtics.
"Every coach I know would cut off his arm to have him." - P.J. Carlesimo
"God has really put something together with him. His size and his ability-he's probably one of the most unique players in the world." - Allan Houston
I always believed players are judged by how their peers and their coworkers view them. Whenever you people talk about Garnett, they speak of him as legendary, carrying with him an old school legacy that will be rare in the future. By rare, I mean a Bill Russell story instead of the Wilt Chamberlain story. The players who dive for loose balls, make the extra pass, and care more about their teammates success than their own.
"He's a genetic freak. All the great ones are." - Doug Collins
"He's a little loud, a little high energy, but he's cool. I have more respect for him now because I've never seen anyone who wants to win as badly as he does." - Tim Duncan
Kevin Garnett will always be viewed as the Chamberlain to Tim Duncan’s Russell, but the fact is they both played with smarts and understood “The Secret.” These guys were the same type of players, both dominating on the defensive end while the offense runs through them on the block. In this argument, you could say Duncan had the better cast and coaching then Kevin, until he came to Boston.
"He's great for our game. He's not a taker. He gives everything back. He's as good a teammate as you could possibly have and as great a kid to coach as you could ever want." - Larry Brown
"He's long, energetic, and silly. He has fun out there." - Grant Hill
"He's one of the best teammates you could have." - Joe Smith
He instantly transformed the dismal, 24-win Boston Celtics. A team that has been plagued with bad luck since Lenny Bias. During the initial press conference, he had Ray Allen and Paul Pierce by his sides, an old school move. What gave me the most pride was the fact that he held up his jersey to the cameras with CELTICS visible for the camera. That was the sign that things were going to change.
"He's one of the most unselfish go-to guys I've ever seen. He's a classic." - Joe Smith
"He's raised his level. He's obviously the MVP." - Charles Barkley
"He's very outgoing. Just one of the guys. He definitely does not have the big head. Not Kevin." - Antawn Jamison
The team took a trip to Italy together for the summer to showcase the NBA product, a team bonding situation set up perfectly by Doc Rivers with Kevin eating it up. The Big Three did everything together including discussing what it will take to win that coveted championship. They didn’t shun the younger players, understanding that they need their help just as much as each others. Kevin bought all the rookies 3 suits, after he was unimpressed with how they dressed and presented themselves, a move he learned from Sam Mitchell, his mentor.
"His know-how for the game, his feel for the game-that's something you can't teach. You either got it or you don't. He's got it." - Magic Johnson
"Kevin Garnett is the prototype for the NBA player of the future. He's already one of the greatest players to have played the game." - Bill Walton
"Offensively, he has that wonderful turnaround jump shot and those follow-ups around the basket. He's one of those guys who, because of his size and athletic ability, creates real difficult defensive matchups." - Jerry West
The Celtics finished with the best record that season, having their ups and downs while learning to play with new teammates. They all promised to focus on defense first, with Garnett as the anchor. Kevin helped Ray Allen and Paul Pierce turn into respectable defenders, bringing back memories of how Bill Russell made up for his teammates defensive deficiencies.
"This guy has as much energy as anyone I've ever seen. He attacks the boards like he's in a gym all by himself." - Rudy Tomjanovich
"Kevin Garnett is a guy who cares about your feelings. He respects the last guy on the team." - Sam Cassell
"When I first saw him, he had the best athletic skills for his size of anyone I had ever seen at that stage. He's really thin, but it doesn't matter. With his agility and coordination, he can give people trouble at the power forward, small forward and center positions." - Elgin Baylor
Kevin was forever engraved in Celtic history this season, as the Big Ticket helped bring in Banner 17, which was won in six games over the hated Los Angeles Lakers. He changed Celtic nation that year, providing fans exciting basketball the past four years, giving this fan base what they needed; to care again. As his time winds down and his good bye tour begins, let us appreciate the man who changed the face of the Celtics for this generation.
"Winning a championship is now a legitimate and realistic goal." - Danny Ainge