While doing some shoe promotion in Asia, Kevin Garnett spoke with the Chinese website, Hupa, and was on record saying (as translated by Hoopshype), “I will retire as a Celtic for sure.” If the Big Ticket plays out his freshly-inked three-year deal, he’ll be 39 years old and primed for retirement. There wasn’t much speculation of Garnett jumping ship (ala Ray Allen), but now that the words have come directly from his mouth, it leaves us wondering: where does Kevin Garnett’s legacy fit in the most storied franchise in NBA history?
Statistically speaking, he’s one of the best ever … kind of. On the Celtics’ all-time leaders list, KG ranks 27th in points (5,229), 20th in rebounds (2,771), 10th in blocks (328), and eighth in field goal percentage (.525). Not impressed? Keep in mind these are the totals for his five-year career as a Celtic. With a probable three years left, we can expect him to climb up the list in each of those categories.
If we take his career totals and see where they would rank on that same list, it goes a little something like this: second in points (24,270), second in rebounds (13,331), first in blocks (1,908 — what about Russell?! The NBA didn’t start recording blocks until the ’73-74 season). How important is doing it all in the same uniform, anyway? Nobody can question what Garnett did statistically over his career, whether it was done in a Wolves or Celtics jersey. Although it should not be overlooked, the legacy of Kevin Garnett as a Celtic will not reside with his stats.
What cements Kevin Garnett as one of the greatest Celtics in history isn’t measurable on the team’s all-time leaders list. The former league MVP single-handedly changed the culture of an entire organization overnight. Before the ’07-08 season, the Celtics spent nearly two decades trying to reclaim their spot on top of the NBA. Garnett came in and preached defense and professionalism, brotherhood and loyalty, all things which played huge roles in eventually ending the organization’s 22-year title drought. Say all you want about KG being a dirty or disrespectful player, but can you honestly tell me you wouldn’t want him on your team?
Will we eventually see a No. 5 hanging from the rafters in Boston? Yes. One hundred percent yes. If Garnett averages 15 points per game over the next three years (doable), he’ll surpass Danny Ainge for 17th on the Celtics all-time scoring list. All 16 players above Ainge, with the exception of Antoine Walker (can the man get some love?), had their numbers retired.
But what about Garnett’s legacy in ‘Sota, the place where he established himself as one of the most dominant power forwards the league has ever seen? The place where he won a Most Valuable Player award. There are 10 players who played for and had their numbers retired by two different teams (and no, Michael Jordan and Pistol Pete twice getting their jerseys retired doesn’t count): Abdul-Jabbar, Barkley, Chamberlain, Drexler, Dr. J, Bob Lanier, Moses Malone, Earl Monroe, the Big O, and Nate Thurmond.
In a few years, Kevin Garnett’s name will make a nice addition to this list.
Will you remember Garnett more for his time in Minnesota or Boston?
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