Garnett Stands Alone At This Stats Summit With … Guess Who?

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Kevin Garnett, drawing on the muscle memory of tens of thousands similar movements, leaped high and spun around for yet another fadeaway jump shot. It was the same as so many before it — and completely different and special too.

When Garnett’s shot dropped at 8:07 of the second quarter Thursday in Boston’s blowout victory over the Lakers at TD Garden, it boosted him to 25,000 points in his NBA career. More than that, by reaching the latest in his mash-up of big number thresholds — at least 25,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 5,000 assists, 1,500 steals and 1,500 blocks — Garnett joined an elite class of … one.

Just him. That’s it. With a hat-tip to Celtics radio play-by-play man Sean Grande for his swift Tweet noting the achievement, the fact is no one else in NBA history has bundled all those milestones into one illustrious career.

Let’s pause here to consider whether Garnett, thus, might rank even higher on the list of all-time greats than we might previously have pegged him.

(Silence. Pondering. Reflecting historically.)

“I’m sure someday when I’m rocking in a rocking chair, having a cigar or something, thinking about what I’ve done, I’m sure it will make some sense to me,” Garnett told reporters after the game.

OK, if he won’t do it now, we will: Garnett has combined longevity, durability, production and versatility like no one else in league annals. And scoring — where he now ranks 16th on the all-time NBA list — was in some ways the least of his skills or priorities, given his passion for boyhood idol Magic Johnson‘s pass-first approach (assists) and the intensity with which he embraces defense (rebounds, steals, blocks).

Across the six truly prime seasons of Garnett’s career, from 1999-2000 through 2004-05, he averaged 22.6 points, 12.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists. He topped 20-10-5 each year  — only Larry Bird did it as many as five times — but he did it in Minnesota, in flyover country for national media, as a 7-footer, on Timberwolves teams that surrounded him with limited help.

Was he a stats monster? Yes, but out of necessity, not merely for show. Garnett lugged the Wolves to eight straight playoff appearances from his second year in Minnesota through his ninth. At no point during his 12 seasons there did he underperform his contracts, not the controversial six-year, $126 million one that served as fuel for the 1998 lockout nor the nine-figure extension that followed.

Only when Garnett got to Boston, on the dark side of 30, did his workload lighten and his focus shift. With Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and eventually Rajon Rondo around — the highest-quality teammates he’s ever had — Garnett could focus on defense and offensive flow. He earned his precious championship ring in his first season as a Celtic — who can forget his goofy, post-Finals elation? — and was the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year. As his minutes dipped, he went for surgical impact rather than total game domination.

Now he stands alone atop a mountain range of stats.

Or nearly so.

The NBA portion of the record book is clear: No other player has amassed the numbers in those five categories that Garnett has. Some legends miss because they played all or part of their careers prior to 1973-74, the first season steals and blocks were recorded. Elgin Baylor might have been a candidate but he retired in November 1971. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar hit four of the five milestones but got no credit for steals for his first four seasons. He finished with 1,160 — and had 397 in 310 games in his fifth through eighth seasons.

Wilt Chamberlain? Though the Dipper led the NBA in assists one season and averaged 4.4 over his career, he ended with 4,643.

Hakeem Olajuwon was short on assists (3,058). Tim Duncan won’t make it in either assists (3,546) or steals (857). Oscar Robertson, the ultimate triple-double man, didn’t get any steals or blocks until his final season and didn’t reach 10,000 in rebounds (9,887).

Bill Russell didn’t score enough. Michael Jordan didn’t board or block enough. Bird and Baylor didn’t play long enough. Admittedly, Garnett got an early start coming right into the NBA from high school, but that just earns him props for guts (to do it) and good health (to last this long).

LeBron James? He has the same preps-to-pros advantage as Garnett. But halfway through his 10th season, James has blocked 621 shots. Double that for a 19-year career and he still would be 258 swats short.

Upon further review, however, there is one man who can stand toe-to-toe, if not eye-to-eye, with Garnett at this particular summit. The trick to finding him is to switch out the qualifier from “in NBA history” to “in NBA/ABA history.” And there he is – Julius Erving, a completely different player from Garnett but with comparable numbers and matching milestones.

Erving’s NBA-only stats are solid: 18,364 points, 5,601 rebounds, 3,224 assists, 1,508 steals and 1,293 blocks in 11 seasons. But The Doctor spent his first five seasons interning in the ABA, playing 407 of his eventual 1,243 games. And his numbers there were staggering: 28.7 ppg, 12.1 rpg, 4.0 apg, 2.4 spg, 2.0 bpg.

Add the totals to his NBA work and Erving’s line is: 30,026 points, 10,525 rebounds, 5,176 assists, 2,272 steals and 1,941 blocks in 16 seasons.

Erving, somewhat neglected himself in “all-time” talk, is remembered as one of the game’s great artists and ambassadors, revealing a nasty streak only at the end of his highlight throw-downs. Garnett is known as one of the most competitive, cantankerous and crude blast furnaces to roam the NBA’s courts, with a far greater defensive inclination.

It elevates both of them to share this particular achievement.

74 Comments

  1. Also too, I’m really like the piece you added w/ Dr. J! Real great way to end the article w/ my all time favorite player!

  2. I don’t know why my post wouldn’t get on her the first day of this blog-i didn’t say anything inappropriate, just giving a long props to KG so i’ll try this one short.
    YEAH KG WAY TO GO! The only player to accomplish that. KG beast of all beast-the greatest big man in nba history 2nd to Bill Russell. Keep it going KG!
    CELTICS-HORAAH-UBUNTU!!!

  3. Chigchig says:

    I realised Dr J was a bad muthafcuka but I didnt know his stats were like that? my goodness.. I have to re-evaluate my top 10 players all time as I had him on the cusp before.. now I think I gotta put him in there..

    KG is def in the talk of top 3 PF all time.

    Hard to get him in the convo of big men in general though because only 1 ring and hes only gotten to the finals twice

  4. bernietheking says:

    Congratulations to Kevin for this excellent accomplishment! I love Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan. They are my two favorite players of the 2000s generation. I don’t care who is “better” because both are amazing teammates. When they both retire from the game, I will miss both of them tremendously. I hope that a new crop of selfless yet ultra-competitive superstars arrives soon.

  5. BrandonS says:

    KG is a top 10 all time player

  6. Dee says:

    KG all the way man!!!!!! CCCCC’s Forever

  7. Dee says:

    Kamote you r the man. well put. You’ve said it all my friend. Listen guys let’s get a petition!!! Kamote for commisionner.
    Thank you

  8. tamanjiri says:

    this achievement clearly tells why KG is way more better than Duncan.. don’t dare say that Duncan is better ’cause he has more rings (championship rings are acquired by a team not by an INDIVIDUAL player, Duncan had a better team that’s why he had more rings than KG).. and don’t dare say that Duncan is better ’cause he had two Season MVP awards (it’s easy to win Season MVP award if you’re in a great team like the Spurs but Garnett received that award while he was in Minnesota)..
    .
    one more thing, let us see Duncan play the Point Guard position..

    • Ravenloft says:

      ohh your to harsh.. not to play, but to defend a pg.(hurt my ankle typing this) the ONLY nba player who could defend 1 to 5. He is like a cheated myplayer in 2k13. =)

  9. mike says:

    Still not even remotely close to being on the same level as Tim Duncan

  10. nestrosales says:

    @ Dr C. Goode @ Muraddin @goodstuff,…. yeah I might re-consider this specially with his accomplishments so far, but is this base on rings or a full play on both ends of the court day-in day-out for 16+ years? coz’ if its for rings with respect to TD i’ll be thanking his 3 greatest teammates ever ‘The Admiral’ (“one of the greatest center ever to play the game) in DRobinson, ‘the best French ball-player ever’ in TParker & ‘the best Argentinian ball-player ever’ in MGinobili, not to mention AJohnson, SSmith, BBowen, SJackson, MFinley & oh!! who will ever forget the ‘top 2 greatest “clutch” shooter ever’ in the name of Steve Kerr & Robert Horry!!! I dont see Garnett (in TWolves) had a teammates like Duncan (since his rookie years) was having until today!!!!,coz’ I pick KG over any PF or C anytime, everytime!!!..this article showed what he does at both ends end of the court (does the guy did really had a weakness that you can exploit on the court?really?), there’s not a thing he can’t do on the court that’s how versatile & tough the guy is. If its for a “ring” well I pick BRussell anyday!!! I dare anybody to pick anyone beside him!!(LOL) just saying man! & just like KG said when he finally retires on rocking chair, considering all the circumstances people will realize that KG, still had a tough situation to get where he is today than any other stars out there!! Congrats 5 & 21..

  11. OldFan says:

    You know what would be so good to hear right now? Let me tell you.

    Johnny Most reciting KG’s stats and saying, in that revered, gravelly voice, “Kevin Garnett, a true basketball champion and a player for the ages.”

    That would be a true tribute to KG’s dedication and prowess.

    (Somewhere, Red lights a panatella. A twinkle sparkles in his eyes and a smile lights his face. He turns, the smoke curling around his profile. Walking with the stride of a much younger man he is quickly swallowed by the shadows that cloak the rafters above the parquet.)

  12. tamanjiri says:

    @Dr C.Goode
    “I always thought he had a bit of stage fright during his time in Minnesota, he was kind of like Barkley in Phoenix or a more modern day equivalent, like LeBron in Cleveland. Always putting up great numbers but never able to take over games and lead his team to a title. Then just like LeBron he went and teamed up with 2 other hall of famers to get that ring. Don’t get me wrong though he is a legend of the game and I respect his legendary defence and versatility. It’s just a shame he wasn’t able to get a ring or rings during his prime like Duncan was.”
    .
    .
    .
    most teams in the West at that time were monsters (Lakers, Spurs, Sacramento etc.), it was hard for the timberwolves since they only rely on Garnett on both offense and defense.. if Duncan were in Garnett’s position, i doubt Duncan would be able to lift Minnesota at that time let alone carry the Timberwolves 8 straight playoff appearances..

  13. drago says:

    Without KG Boston would be a mediocre at best team like Milvoki,Washington or Golden State,he is a game changer,I’m a Kings fan from Serbia and i remember how he killed the last push of that great team for a deserved title with pure grit and tenacity.It was also the only season that Minnesota was relevant.Boston is going to sink in to mediocrity when this man retires.

  14. Robin says:

    One of my favourite players.
    Liked him since his Timberwolves playing days.

  15. GRTK says:

    Great article! Opened my eyes more about KG! Bringing it everynight this is the results u get. 1 of my favorite players ever. Motivates me now! Much respect!

  16. Mezstah says:

    @Dr C. Goode when duncan came into the the nba he had a MVP in David Robinson. Garnett had nothing.

  17. good stuff says:

    solid player but TD > KG all day eerrrrday

  18. easytweaks says:

    Versatile player! Those stats shows how all-rounded he is, and many don’t notice how great he really is. Rock on KG!

  19. jovzam says:

    congrats “big ticket” KG you deserve it….

  20. Gillsy says:

    I agree one of the most versitile players ever. When he first played he was a 3 or 4. I even remember one game when Stef had racked up some early fouls him playing the 1. Now he plays the 4 and 5. You go to love the way he leaves nothing in the tank every night for that many years.

  21. Dr C.Goode says:

    I always thought he had a bit of stage fright during his time in Minnesota, he was kind of like Barkley in Phoenix or a more modern day equivalent, like LeBron in Cleveland. Always putting up great numbers but never able to take over games and lead his team to a title. Then just like LeBron he went and teamed up with 2 other hall of famers to get that ring. Don’t get me wrong though he is a legend of the game and I respect his legendary defence and versatility. It’s just a shame he wasn’t able to get a ring or rings during his prime like Duncan was.

    • MrNBA says:

      He didn’t team up with 2 HOF’ers like Lebron did, which is still a cowardly way to win it. KG was traded to the Celtics. There’s a big difference.

  22. Spurs Logic says:

    Eatting out

  23. Celtic Expert says:

    Congrats KG!!! Always knew u can do it

  24. KK says:

    Congratulations KG! God bless you. You light up our lives!

  25. CFWood says:

    I like how when Lebron was going to get 20k there were blogs leading up to it and KG gets recognized after. Even during the commentaries it was so underplayed versus LBJ. For the fire he plays with, the Big Ticket gets undersold these days.

  26. kiko says:

    he is the most versatile player of all time :)

  27. Rodtoscano says:

    Garnett game is transcendent. I am born and live in Brazil and I tend to never forget the unselfisheness, dedication and focus he had as a Timberwolf. Some NBA songs are unsong and although everyone will remember Garnett as a Celtic (and what a joy to watch his firs title), it was his Timberwolves seasons that thought me important lessons about resilience and willingness.

    Sports imitate life, I guess that is the biggest legacy we can live to children, to show the example of big people who dominated the game by themselves, such as Garnett.

  28. M23J says:

    congratulations KG5

  29. Muraddin says:

    This is a truly, truly, TRULY remarkable achievement. KG is one of the BEST… but…. Tim Duncan is better, KG is one of the best, but TIm Duncan is the BEST PF of all time …

    • Jus Caus says:

      Tim Duncan is a center. Period. It doens’t matter what position Pop list him as…he plays center and always has besides his first two years in the league…and even then, he played the bulk of center when Robinson wasn’t on the floor.

  30. Fredwins says:

    I love KG, hope he and Paul can stick it out for another 2 seasons, and for another chance at the title with everyone healthy.

  31. lusifix says:

    This Article is beautifull !
    Shows the worth, power and uniquness of KG!!
    History and Glory are awaiting him with Open arms!

  32. KG21 says:

    a very unique player with a very high basketball IQ. hope to see KG for another 2 or 3 yrs in the NBA

  33. flamar says:

    i think if he tries, he can make it to 30,000. oh and @ prix, miami and okc are nothing compared to the lakers and celtics. lakers and celtics will always be the best teams of the nba, they have way more history than okc and heat. the rivalry your seeing right now, between the heat and thunder is nothing compared to the celtics and lakers rivalry that has gone through the years since the birth of the nba until now

  34. nba says:

    congratz kg! man we’re gonna miss u when you finally retire :(

  35. tamanjiri says:

    if you’d ask Bret “Hitman” Hart what he thinks about KG, here’s what he’s gonna say:
    .
    .
    the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be..

  36. W/E says:

    Great reference to Julius Erving also, what a great all around super athletic player he was, Top 20 all time player.

  37. Tyrone says:

    Like A Baws

  38. LS says:

    CONGRATS TO KG – MEGA BIG TIME PLAYER!

    On another note, perhaps the sports writers will remember how awesome of a player he is the next time they’re tempted to say he’s old and that Boston’s championship window has closed. These guys should be fined for flopping so much!

  39. Didji says:

    Thats’s why Kg the best player in the planet…… Kg all the way!!!

  40. ai83 says:

    A monster, LEGEND,KGGGGGGGGGGGGGG, ONLY AND GENIAL.
    OLD SCHOOL¡¡¡¡

  41. cadroy says:

    KG is a great player,unique,I salute Tim Duncan,Kobe and KG all the way.

  42. Druiddribbles says:

    KG is an Icon spelled with a capital “I”. He turned a down spirited Celtic team into a Champion and never looked back. 2 more years please KG! =)

  43. Boris says:

    Among those who came close, you forgot to mention Karl Malone.
    He missed out only in blocked shots. The rest of his stats are superb:
    36928 pts, 14968 rebs, 5248 ast, 2085 stl, 1145 blk.

  44. Kamote says:

    We are the 80-90’s people. We’ve seen Bird, Magic, MJ, MIller, Barkley, Stockton, Malone, MIller, Hakeem… the early days of Shaq, TD, Kidd, Nash and Kobe. So when we say Kobe is a Diva, because he actually is. And when we say that LBJ, Wade, DH, Melo etc. are just whiners/babies… because they actually are.

    But among the rare players who’ve “crossed” the eras between now and then are KG, TD, Kobe (still a Diva LOL) and Shaq. Franchise players who just bridged the greatness/toughness of the 90’s and the showbusiness of the present day.

    KG is a real special player, much like the physical specimen LBJ or KD is today. Too bad because he could’ve had more titles if the KG-Steph-Gugs held on… but it didn’t. The one ring KG has right now doesn’t justify how he played the sport.

    To those who hated KG… thinks he is a downright A-hole… a faking tough guy… a washed-up dude who doesnt deserve any basketball accolades… or just being plain mean… The only I can say is that you really haven’t seen this guy play, and really see it from a basketball standpoint (I mean, do you really play the game???). And you have to admit, he is that a$$hole you’d want to play for your team… and he is already way past his prime :).

    I salute KG’s lonesome feat… and to those who don’t have the IQ to understand basketball, FU and learn how to play the game :).

  45. OctoPPus says:

    well done !!!

  46. elt says:

    congratz kg u deserve it.

  47. G says:

    Great player, old school kind of guy! Something the new generation lacks big time!

  48. Filipino Idiot says:

    Props to the SQL guy who did the query for you on the NBA database. :)

  49. Ry says:

    Anybody that still thinks Kevin Garnett was overrated in Minnesota for “not winning”, needs to take a look at the Wolves ever-growing futility before and after the KG era. That franchise has not had a SINGLE 30 win season when Garnett was not part of it. Not one.

  50. prix says:

    Boston just got lucky that L.A is playing garbage ball with Kobe as a clown…both team are like Bobcats and Wizards dying not to be the last seed…just a pest compare to MIAMI and OKC,..monsters

    • Retro Silk says:

      Sekou, stop posting on your own thread. You know there are no greater teams than Boston and Los Angeles. OKC and Miami are just flashes in the pan. You just a butt hurt band wagoner struggling for identity because your New Jersey Nets left you high and dry. The Celtics and Lakers have a combined 33 Championship Titles. All the rest of the NBA has a combined total of 33 titles and several of those teams do not even exist in the same form anymore. Miami has a whopping 2 championships and OKC has 1 but it was the Supersonics back in 79′. You might be on top of current events, however, you could sure use some ALL NBA History lessons. What a poser!

      • Lebron Fan says:

        what is with you people and talking about the past.
        teams are judged by how the play in the present not how many banners they have obtained in the past.
        a team with a glorious past can be the worst team in the league… does that still make them a great team? no.
        so stop talking about the past. and focus on the future. the next generation is here, stop dwelling in the past, it aint gona make your team any better.

      • ThisTopicIsPurelyNonesense says:

        your MIAMI and OKC just beaten by your so called weak boston team. come on!

      • Hm says:

        Five of the Lakers championships came so close to the league’s inception that Baylor, Russell and Chamberlain weren’t even drafted yet and there were barely any teams. Most of the Celtics championships came during the Russell days with even fewer teams.

        All championships are not equal.

      • Eli Odell J. says:

        you seem the poser to me my friend, biggest bandwagoner there could be, celtics fan? lakers fan? yeah we know the type, my big city fair weather friend

    • greg says:

      why are you talking about kobe and the lakers this about kevin garnett and how he is one of the best players to ever play the game and boston didnt get lucky they have a really solid team on the court

  51. alflex519 says:

    He’s a great Man, and a superb ball player! Every thing earned!