From marketing and business and what I normally write about.
Kevin Garnett last night won his first National Basketball Association Championship, separating himself from the list of all time greats such as Barkley, Stockton, Malone, Ewing, Miller, Maravich, Gervin and Baylor who did not get a ring (notice which era the majority of those players were in?). This is not a list you want to be on. And there is a good reason that that players such as Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Tracy McGrady, Allen Iverson, Grant HIll, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Rasheed Wallace and others aren’t belabored the same degree of importance that is Garnett. All of those players were in the same boat as KG, but none were viewed similarly in terms of winning a championship. They were all given a pass in comparison. With good reason, although some may make the Hall none were on the same level as Garnett. The others will go down as great players. A championship legitimized his status as a legend of the game.
The players on the first list were locks for the Hall of Fame. So was Garnett. He was a lock before winning last night and was one of the top five power forwards of all time before last night; but with no hardware to back it up. Here’s the list:
1. Tim Duncan (Hurts me to say it, but he’s the best power forward ever)
2. Karl Malone (Debatable placement, but his longevity and records will live on)
3. Charles Barkley (Played at the highest level of anyone on this list in 1993, the guy was scary at 6’6″)
4. Kevin Garnett (My all time favorite player and the most unselfish superstar the sport has ever seen)
5. Kevin McHale (Superb footwork and post play, also bonus for a Minnesota alum)
That’s my five as of right now, things could potentially change depending on how Garnett finishes his career, but I can’t foresee a huge shakeup.
What makes KG so great? Well he arguable has the best skill sets of any seven foot player ever. He is an impeccable shooter, fantastic passer, an all time great defender, has a good post game (though no where near Duncan or the Mailman), runs the floor and his emotional impact on a team can’t be adequately described. He characterizes the word team. I watched him guard everyone from Steve Nash to Tim Duncan, during his prime he could D up everyone in the league except Shaq; who was simply too much for him down low. He’s an MVP once, but could have easily won three (02-03 had a line of 23.0 ppg / 13.0 rpg / 6.0 apg / 1.6 bpg / 1.4 spg where he lost to Tim Duncan with a far superior supporting cast, and this year where despite his “only good” stats he led the Celts to 66 Wins in the regular season and sparked a record turnaround for a moribund franchise), he is the defensive player of the year, he had set marks for consecutive seasons of 20/10/5 that only Larry Bird had matched. Kevin Garnett has been my basketball idol since I was in 7th grade and watched him take off the backboard alley oops at Farrugut Academy during the Timberwolves draft special.
As I grew up I saw that KG was much more special than his gifts in basketball. He had a rough childhood but persevered to become a consummate professional. He has given to charity for Katrina, amidst other things. He is genuinely an engrossing personality and handles all the weight of his celebrity with grace and showed loyalty to my favorite franchise in the midst of organizational turmoil and ineptitude.
Kevin Garnett will go down as the greatest basketball player Minnesota will ever see.
Congratulations Kevin, you deserved this more than most people will ever know.