1. What is your favorite memory of Kevin Garnett with the Celtics?
Brian Robb: Can I say the postgame interviews? There’s too many favorites to list from them. For as good of a player as he was on the floor, captaining some of the best team defense ever in the early days of the Big Three era, I have to say there was little else I enjoyed more than a postgame KG interview. Whether he was talking about a bar fight the C’s just won, their grit and balls, or another metaphor about the team’s chemistry or effort, Garnett was a candid, insightful speaker that never disappointed.
Brendan Jackson: Anything is possible!
It seems obvious given that it was the most memorable moment of the Celtics’ 2008 Championship celebration. However, I love it because it’s not only representative of Garnett’s crazy, it’s also completely genuine. Garnett may pound his chest pregame and exaggerate contact for a foul, but he generally shies away from the theatre of basketball. He doesn’t shoot left-handed free throws because his right elbow is bruised. He doesn’t get carried off the court for cramps. His kissing of center court and total disregard for the postgame on-court interview are just two perfect examples of who Garnett is: a lunatic who is genuine and lives and dies for the game of basketball. If you think Garnett’s antics are disingenuous, you are underestimating his crazy.
Michael Pina: What a question. It’s far too difficult to pin-point one specific moment on the court because Garnett’s brilliance played as a nightly ritual. First he’d let buckets of spittle fly through the air as he danced to each corner of the court, jack-hammering a closed fist into his own heart.
The sequence played as a perfect juxtaposition to how Garnett would always bow his head against the stanchion in the preceding moments, his lips mumbling words of inspiration—final seconds for him to enter his own head before the battle began. And who could forget all the blowout victories that ended with him staring up at the jumbo screen with a smile on his face in anticipation of Gino, the dancing human victory cigar, like a speechless child who swears he saw Santa Claus drifting behind a cloud on Christmas Eve.
These moments will play over and over and over in my head whenever I think of Kevin Garnett’s tenure with the Celtics. To pick a favorite is too difficult, but how about settling on the day he signed? Seven years later, that press conference still makes me feel like a 12-year-old.
2. How will Garnett do this upcoming season?
Brian Robb: I can’t wait to see Garnett this upcoming season, since it will be the first time of his entire career that he won’t be asked to do too much. Jason Kidd is going to be careful with his minutes and has enough productive bigs on the roster to actually be say that and mean it. Garnett will see 25 minutes a night, will receive ample recovery days and I expect him to continue posting healthy production on the offensive end and the glass night in and night out.
Brendan Jackson: Garnett has the luxury of always being a complementary piece. Even when he was the best player toiling away up in Minnesota, his skill-set was more conducive to facilitating a win than actually winning. Overall, his numbers may go down but he’s going to teach Brooklyn how to play as a cohesive unit rather than a bunch of dudes who can have some success in isolation. He won’t dominate offensively, but he will set
illegal good screens, he will hedge hard, he will protect the rim, he will knock down open 18 footers, and he will play great two-BIG-man game with Brook Lopez.
Michael Pina: Kevin Garnett is no longer Kevin Garnett, but compared to every other big man in the NBA, he still provides elite pick-and-roll defense, a confident jump shot, and a culture-changing aura that can’t be quantified with metrics.
The only problem is he can’t play more than 30 minutes in a single game. But in the playoffs? Serving as the fifth option on offense; not having to worry about banging down low in the paint thanks to Brook Lopez? Garnett still has some life in him.
3. What will his legacy be as a Celtic?
Brian Robb: Garnett changed the culture in Boston. He demanded more from everyone, especially on the defensive end and that resulted in the team’s first title in 22 years. For that, and six outstanding years of service, he’ll be hanging in the rafters amongst the Celtic greats soon enough.
Brendan Jackson: Danny Ainge has already hinted at it, but there will come a day where Garnett’s number 5 will join the rest of the Celtics’ greats in the rafters of TDGarden. Garnett brought the Celtics their only Championship in the Pierce-era. In departing, he has left an indelible sense of pride, winning, and intensity that will stay with the new generation of Celtics teams. He will always bleed green and someday he will die green.
Michael Pina: Kevin Garnett changed everything. The best defensive player Boston’s had since Bill Russell, most of his prime was spent grinding himself to the bone in Minnesota. He didn’t join the Celtics until turning 31, and his first dozen years of hard work were rewarded instantly. His number 5 will hang in the rafters as soon as he retires, and perhaps no six season span from any player in NBA history has meant more to a franchise than what Kevin Garnett meant to the Boston Celtics.