With Team USA basketball set to hit Rio for the 2016 Olympics next month, many a retrospective tale has been emerging from the woodwork about American ballers. One involves Kevin Garnett playing for the 2000 edition of the team, and demonstrating his insatiable hooping hunger by dominating in perhaps the most exhausting format of the sport imaginable.
As Garnett recalls with Team USA counterpart Vince Carter, KG’s taste for victory in full-court, one-on-one games at team practices “got to the point where it was no smiles.” Garnett goes on to speculate that his winning ways reached such a high tide in the games that his teammates had a meeting — secret from him, of course — to create a game plan to thwart his streak.
The legacy of Garnett, who is still mulling his retirement today, will represent a unique singularity of physical build, athleticism, and temperament that met maybe its perfect form for display in these restless one-on-one games. In his prime — which was actually well after this bit of nostalgia — Garnett was sleek and fast and graceful but also a bully and a bruiser. How does one ever deal with a person who’s both so fleet and so foul?
It will be a long time before someone replicates what Garnett brought to the game.