Kevin Garnett spent the first 12 seasons of his career in Minnesota. By the time his contract runs out this July, he’ll have spent two seasons in Brooklyn. In comparison with those bookends, his 2007-2013 turn with the Boston Celtics wouldn’t seem to have the same sort of legitimacy and permanence as, say, John Havlicek’s 16-year run with the C’s.
That didn’t stop a fantastic and appreciative Boxing Day crowd in Boston from giving Garnett the reception he deserved on Friday afternoon. The Celtics faithful lauded the visiting Brooklyn Nets big man with cheers in what could be his final game in Boston as an active player.
Garnett remains undecided on a retirement decision, possibly because biding his time on a poorly-constructed and middling Brooklyn Nets team in the potential final year of his career isn’t working as the storyboard ending for some who might arguably be the best player of his generation. It’s only been a few years, but he feels far removed from Boston’s brilliant 2008 title run and the near misses in 2010 and 2012.
Following the game, which Brooklyn won by a 109-107 score, Garnett was his typical self, tossing out big brother-isms to the assembled media:
Boston coach Brad Stevens, who was born four months after KG, added this:
KG contributed just six points and four rebounds in 16 minutes during the BKN win. These numbers are sadly nearly in line with his per game averages since joining the Nets a year and a half ago. It’s true that an ungodly amount of minutes and Garnett’s near-40 timeline have contributed to his decline, but if you’ll allow us a little bit of sportswriter-ese, it is fair to wonder whether or not Kevin’s heart was tossed out with the bathwater when he was dealt from Boston back in the summer of 2013. This man still competes like nobody else, but something has changed.
Garnett had to waive his no-trade clause in that deal, as he readily and correctly accepted the chance to chase down another ring with a veteran crew in Brooklyn, but his per-minute numbers and efficiency stats shrank considerably last year in his first season with Brooklyn. That trend has continued in 2014-15, which would make an eventual retirement all the more appropriate once his contract ends this July. Brooklyn’s win on Friday moved them into a tie with the Miami Heat for the seventh spot in the Eastern playoff bracket, but at 13-15, who really cares?
Garnett, as is his custom, certainly does. There is a chance, however slight, that he may try to give 2015-16 one last go as a veteran big man working for a team that appreciates his talents. Certainly 30 out of 30 NBA teams would absolutely drool at the chance at adding Garnett in even a reduced role, regardless of how pedestrian he looks currently in relation to his years of MVP-level play.
If KG does decide to go out after an anonymous first round ouster pitched on NBA TV, well, he’s earned that choice.
And Boston, as has been the case for decades, has earned our respect when recognizing greatness from the sidelines.
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