HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — None of this was guaranteed.
Not one second of the past 17 seasons was a lock for Kevin Garnett.
Maybe that’s why he’s always played with that unrelenting fury, that snarl on his face and that chip the size of a boulder on both shoulders.
It all makes sense when you trace Garnett’s steps from his hometown in South Carolina to his stint at Chicago’s Farragut Academy alongside Windy City hoops legend Ronnie Fields and then into superstardom in the NBA.
The Hall of Fame beckons. But no one was sure how the experiment that was KG would work out when he bucked the system as a high school senior and became the first prep star in two decades to forego his college eligibility and declare for the NBA Draft.
Being just a couple of years older than Garnett myself, I remember thinking he must have been an absolute lunatic for thinking he could do something like that. Deep down, I was rooting for him to succeed. And not so see him start a movement, which came in the wake of his decision, but because he played with the sort of heart and unbridled passion that those of us who love the game unconditionally have always admired and respected.
That’s why this morning marks a strange mood here at the hideout. The prospect of Garnett retiring — he’s a free agent at midnight, but Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports is reporting that the Celtics and Garnett have agreed to a three-year, $34 million extension), gave us pause.
If this was indeed the end of the road for KG, if he was done playing the game the way only he can, it would have been the end of an era. Sure, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Dwight Howard and all of the others high school stars who followed Garnett’s lead directly into the NBA will go on, some longer than others.
But KG is the OG of the movement, the trendsetter and the man whose courage when was still just a teenager, changed the game. It wouldn’t have been easy watching him walk away from the game right now. His high school buddy Fields serves as a constant reminder of the thin line between KG becoming a legendary figure in the game instead of a sad footnote in the history of the game.