I've always considered Kevin Garnett's career to be bordering tragic.
He's the greatest team player I've ever seen play the game, and dare I say probably the best I'll ever see. Gifted with incredible length and athleticism, fueled by fire, and presumably the sounds of DMX looping internally. Garnett was everything a fan could ask for. A game changing defensive force, seemingly capable of erasing just about any mistake his teammates could commit, and a brilliant offensive player - capable of killing a team in the post, shooting from midrange or off the dribble, yet with all the skills in the world to make him one of the greatest scorers of all time, he was unselfish, and in turn, one of the best passing bigs in the games history. If you let a coach 'Weird Science' a player, Garnett would be the result.
No numbers, not even his 24.2 point, 13.9 rebound, 5 assist, 1.5 steal, 2.2 blocks a game MVP season, could do the impact he'd have on a game justice. It doesn't encapsulate the fear he'd put into opposing offensive players. The attention he demanded when he was on offense. Doesn't touch upon his drive, the energy he'd bring, or the ability he had to get the absolute most out of his supporting cast.
The supporting cast is where his story takes a turn for the worst. Because the greatest team player I've ever seen spent the first twelve years of his career on an organization that was never able to give him anywhere near the supporting cast he deserved*. Twelve years in Minnesota, and the best teammates he ever had was Latrell Sprewell, Wally Szerbiak and Sam Cassell. Only the latter two made an All-Star team with Minnesota.
The list of names he played alongside with in his two final years with the Wolves is nothing short of depressing; Ricky Davis, Trenton Hassell, Marc Blount, and Michael Olowokandi just to name just a few. Er, not just a few, that's probably the best of the lot. Those are the kind of players Garnett wasted two of his prime years (age 29 and 30) on.
He then got one year in Boston with an elite supporting cast where he was able to win a Championship. He was on his way to winning a second before something happened in Utah. Something weird. Something awful. Something that meant he'd never quite be the same again.
What's particularly sad about all of that is that is that KG was so uniquely skilled to be the ultimate teammate. Always willing to pass out of his own shot to get a teammate a better one. Never afraid to set a hard pick, or do any of the dirty work that other superstars shy away. These aspects of his game should be celebrated, but saddled along subpar talent this was a perceived weakness of Garnett. Instead, he's too unselfish.
As we approach the end of his career, his legacy hasn't exactly been tarnished, but it's certainly slipped.
KG vs. Duncan isn't an argument anymore; Duncan, the guy with all the rings, oh, and the guy who spent the duration of his career alongside multiple hall of famers, is conclusively the best Big of the generation. Kobe Bryant, gifted with elite big after elite big, is the only other player who can be brought up in the 'Best Player of the Generation' argument. To suggest else wise is an admission of idiocy.
The Big Ticket deserved better throughout his career, and he deserves better now.
Yes, KG's first game back in Minnesota will be cool. You know what else was cool? When Allen Iverson 'came home' to Philadelphia. You know how long that was cool? The duration of this 57 second youtube clip.
You know what'd be even better? Giving him one more shot to be on a contender. One more opportunity for him to make (an albeit small) impact on a playoff game. One more time playing alongside a real supporting cast. One more chance to capture the title.
*An organization so bad, our own Mark Vandeusen declared them the worst team ever on HoopsHabit MattDotRich 2/20/2015 01:14:00 PM Tweet Edit