Lester Hudson was almost the last pick in the 2009 Draft. Selected with the 28th pick in the second round (No. 58 overall) by the Boston Celtics, the University of Tennessee at Martin guard miraculously nabbed a roster spot in training camp with the defending NBA Champions. He took full advantage of the opportunity, too, and even received some mentorship from one of the unlikeliest of rookie benefactors.
The veteran KG isn’t normally prone to engaging with rookies, preferring to go about his business and hold judgement on the new tykes for a later day. But he took a shine to Hudson, who tells Camerato, “He was like a big brother.” KG even nicknamed Hudson, “Train,” for the power he displayed on drives to the iron.
Perhaps the craziest part of falling under the protective gaze of KG, aside from the fact he’d earned the respect of a player who normally detested young bloods, was the time Garnett took him shopping while on a road trip in Chicago. We’ll let Camerato and Hudson take it from here:
In December of that season while the Celtics were in Chicago to play the Bulls, Hudson received a directive from Garnett. It wasn’t the first time Garnett made a request – as a rookie, Hudson often ran errands for him and other veterans. This one was vague, though.
“‘Train, come to the store with me,’” Hudson recalled. “‘Meet me downstairs at this time.’ You can’t be late with KG. I was probably 10 minutes early. He was like, ‘Come on let’s go.’”
Hudson left the team hotel with Garnett, not knowing where they were headed. As they walked down the street, Garnett filled the conversation with more words of encouragement. The talk ended as they approached the destination.
Hudson gazed upon the building: the Louis Vuitton store.
“He told me to pick out whatever I wanted,” said Hudson. “I was like, ‘Are you serious right now?’ He said, ‘You work hard and I respect you. You help me out a lot.’”
Hudson was shocked. Soon, Garnett began making recommendations. Get a scarf, Garnett offered, it’s cold in Boston and Chicago. (Garnett often wore a designer scarves in his postgame interviews while on the Celtics). The store was Hudson’s for the picking.
“I got a couple scarves, skullies, a backpack, shoes, belts,” Hudson said. “I think he just got me everything.”
Hudson was left go a month later, the Celtics returned to the Finals that season — losing to the Lakers in seven games — so roster opportunities were scarce. After being cut, Hudson bounced around the Association for another couple years before going overseas and blossoming into a three-time All-Star and two-time MVP in the Chinese Basketball Association.
But he’s back now with the Clippers and even still has a Louis Vuitton bag, though not the one KG bought him. He keeps that one at home to remember the “unbelievable” trip he took with KG.
Garnett gets a lot of flack for the way he plays the game: the head butting of the basketball stanchion before the tip (and and even opposing players, on occasion), a lean and angry countenance on the court, and the constant yapping in an opponent’s ear. But he’s a leader in the truest sense of the word, and his shopping splurge for Hudson gives us a tiny glimmer into one of the most misunderstood and least accessible players in the game today.