Muhammad Ali falling to Larry Holmes. Michael Jordan nailing that jump shot to steal the ’98 NBA title from the Utah Jazz. Whenever you hear people talk about the end of an era that happened during their lifetime, it usually comes down where they were, and what they were doing when it occurred. For a certain generation of basketball fans, that story will center around 2016: the year that Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett retired from the NBA.
With barely a month before the start of the season, Garnet, announced his decision via a farewell video posted to his Instagram account last Saturday (Philippine time) that showed him walking across an empty court with the voiceover, “I’m just thankful. I can’t even put that into words. I’m just thankful. I’m just thankful for everybody, and the love. I never would have thought that people love me like this. But, for it to be reality is just something else, man. Man.”
All things considered, Garnett shouldn’t really be all that surprised that he’s so beloved; one of the best defensive players in league history (as well as one of its most notorious trash talkers), Kevin Garnett represents the last holdover from an era of players that have grown to become legends.
Recruited right out of high school, Garnett was nothing less than a phenom; standing at roughly seven feet tall, he was that rare big man whose ball handling and agility belied his size, enabling him to play a variety of positions, resulting in a career average of 17.8 points and 10 rebounds per game.
Over 21 seasons, Garnett would play for the Timberwolves, Boston Celtics (with whom he won a championship in 2008), and the Brooklyn Nets over his 21 years, with the final year back with his beloved Timberwolves. All told, he made it to 15 All-Star Games, 12 All-NBA teams, and the Sydney 2000 US Olympic squad, with whom he won a Gold medal.
For all his skill, it would only be in 2008, during his stint in Boston, that Garnett finally won a championship, his competitive spirit perfectly complemented by Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, with their trio often being referred to as “The Big Three”. When they finally did win the coveted championship over their longtime rivals the Lakers, Garnett famously bellowed, as confetti rained down, “Anything is possible!”
At the end of his farewell video, the man we knew as the Big Ticket says that he didn’t expect this to be easy, but advises his fans to, “Stay tuned.”
For everyone who has followed Garnett over the last 21 years, he doesn’t even need to ask.