Garnett made an immediate impact with the Minnesota Timberwolves leading them to eight-consecutive playoff appearances. In 2004, Garnett led the Timberwolves to the Western Conference Finals and won the NBA Most Valuable Player Award. Since his second season in the NBA, Garnett has been named to 15 All-Star Games, winning the All-Star MVP award in 2003, and is currently tied for 2nd-most All-Star selections in NBA history.[n 1] He was awarded the regular season's NBA Defensive Player of the Year in the 2007–08 season and has been a nine-time member of the All-NBA Teams selection and a twelve-time member of the All-Defensive Teams selection. Garnett currently holds several all-time Timberwolves franchise records.
After spending 12 seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Garnett was traded to the Boston Celtics in a blockbuster trade in 2007. In his first year with the Celtics, he helped lead them to their first NBA championship since 1986. In 2013, Garnett was included in a second headline trade that sent him to the Brooklyn Nets alongside long-time Celtic Paul Pierce.
Early life and education
Garnett was born in Greenville, South Carolina on May 19, 1976, to Shirley Garnett and O'Lewis McCullough, the second of his mother's three children. After divorcing McCullough, Shirley Garnett raised Kevin and his two siblings. She then re-married and moved the family to Mauldin, South Carolina when Kevin Garnett was twelve.
Garnett fell in love with the sport of basketball while attending Hillcrest Middle School, although he did not play organized ball until high school. In his first three high school years, Garnett played for Mauldin High School. However, during the summer prior to his senior year of high school, Garnett was in the general vicinity of a fight between black and white students. Although not directly involved, Garnett was one of three students arrested for second-degree lynching, a charge he managed to expunge through a pre-trial intervention. Due to the racially charged incident and fearful of being a target, Garnett decided to leave Mauldin. He transferred to Farragut Career Academy in Chicago, Illinois for his senior year of high school. He led Farragut to a 28–2 record and was named National High School Player of the Year by USA Today. He was named Mr. Basketball for the State of Illinois after averaging 25.2 points, 17.9 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 6.5 blocks while shooting 66.8% from the field. In four years of high school, Garnett posted an impressive 2,553 points, 1,809 rebounds and 737 blocked shots. He was named the Most Outstanding Player at the McDonald's All-American Game after registering 18 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocked shots, and then declared himself eligible for the 1995 NBA Draft. In high school, Garnett played alongside Ronnie Fields, who also became a professional basketball player. To mark the 35th anniversary of the McDonald’s All American High School Boys Basketball Game, Garnett was honored as one of 35 Greatest McDonald's All Americans.
Early years (1995–1997)
Garnett was drafted with the fifth pick of the 1995 NBA Draft by the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves, and became the first player to be drafted directly out of high school since 1975. After joining the NBA for the 1989–90 season, the Timberwolves had not won more than 29 games in any season. In Garnett's rookie season, the Timberwolves were in the midst of a transition phase; they replaced Bill Blair with Flip Saunders as head coach early in the season and made several trades. Garnett initially came off the bench in his rookie year, but moved into the starting lineup soon after Saunders became head coach. In his rookie year, Garnett and fellow newcomer Tom Gugliotta carried the scoring load. Garnett did not immediately leap to stardom as later prep-to-pro prospects such as Amar'e Stoudemire, LeBron James and Dwight Howard would, but he did have a very respectable rookie year. He averaged 10.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game and was voted into the All-Rookie Second Team. Despite having some promising players, the Timberwolves suffered through their seventh consecutive sub-30 win season and failed to make the playoffs. At the time Garnett was the youngest NBA player in history at 19 years and 11 months of age.
Prior to the 1996–97 season, the Timberwolves made a draft-day trade for point guard Stephon Marbury of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. During the season Garnett posted improving averages of 17.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.1 blocks and 1.7 steals. He also had two games where he registered eight blocks. With a 40–42 record, the Timberwolves made their first playoff appearance in franchise history, Garnett and Gugliotta made their first All-Star appearances, and Marbury established himself as a valuable young lead guard. However, the Houston Rockets, led by Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, and Charles Barkley proved to be too much as the Timberwolves were swept 3–0 in the first round of the 1997 NBA Playoffs.
Franchise player (1997–2001)
During the 1997–98 NBA season, the Minnesota Timberwolves and Garnett agreed on a six-year contract extension that was worth an unparalleled $126 million. The contract was a risky move and many pundits[who?] speculated that the deal would make it impossible for the Wolves to sign new players or even keep their own. The enormous size of Garnett's contract was considered, by numerous sports writers, a major cause of labor tensions between players and owners that led to a lockout which shortened the 1998–99 NBA season. Despite the furor over his new contract, Garnett continued to improve, averaging 18.5 points, 9.6 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.8 blocks, and 1.7 steals per game. Again, he was an All-Star, and the Timberwolves finished with their first winning record in franchise history (45–37 for the season). For the second consecutive year the young Timberwolves bowed out of the playoffs in the first round, this time losing 2–3 against the Seattle SuperSonics and superstar point guard Gary Payton. The two wins against the Sonics marked the Wolves' first-ever playoff game wins. The off-season started poorly for the Timberwolves though as 20-point per game scorer Tom Gugliotta left for the Phoenix Suns. In the lockout-shortened season that followed, Garnett broke through as a superstar. Putting up stats of 20.8 points, 10.4 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.8 blocks per game, he was named to the All-NBA Third Team. However, midway through the season Stephon Marbury was traded to the New Jersey Nets. Although the Wolves received two-time All-Star Terrell Brandon in return, they were not able to overcome the discord and limped into the playoffs as the 8th seed with a 25–25 record. The Wolves were defeated in the first round again, this time losing 1–3 to the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs who were led by young superstar and eventual NBA Finals MVP Tim Duncan. In the next season, Garnett continued his notable play, averaging 22.9 points, 11.8 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.5 steals per game and made the first of his four All-NBA First Team appearances. Assisted by sharpshooting rookie forward Wally Szczerbiak and steady veteran Brandon, the Wolves posted a franchise-best 50–32 record, but succumbed in the first round to the Portland Trail Blazers 3–1.
In the 1999–2000 NBA season, Timberwolves' guard Malik Sealy was killed by a drunk driver and the NBA ruled that the free agent signing of Joe Smith was illegal. The NBA punished the team for the illegal signing by stripping the team of three first-round draft picks, fining Glen Taylor (the owner of the team) $3.5 million, and banning general manager Kevin McHale for one year. Garnett led the Wolves to a 47–35 record and made the All-NBA Second Team, but again, the Wolves did not survive the first round of the playoffs, losing to the Spurs 3–1.
MVP and division champions (2001–2004)
In the 2001–02 season, Garnett posted another notable season, his averages of 21.2 points, 12.1 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.2 steals per game enough for another All-NBA Second Team nomination. However, the Timberwolves bowed out in the first round for the sixth consecutive time, this time getting swept 3–0 by the Dallas Mavericks led by Michael Finley, Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki. Garnett's next season was one of the best of his career, his 23.0 ppg / 13.0 rpg / 6.0 apg / 1.6 bpg / 1.4 spg season earning him his second All-NBA First Team nomination and second place in the MVP voting. The Timberwolves posted a good 51–31 record, but for the seventh consecutive time, they did not make it out of the first round, this time losing to the Los Angeles Lakers, 4 games to 2.
In the 2003–04 season, things finally seemed to come together for Garnett. In past years, the Wolves had practically been a one-man show, but now, the Timberwolves had made two valuable acquisitions: highly talented but volatile swingman Latrell Sprewell and the seasoned two-time NBA champion Sam Cassell, who supplanted Troy Hudson at point guard. In addition, defensive center Ervin Johnson complemented the inconsistent Michael Olowokandi. Powered by the best supporting cast in his career, Garnett averaged 24.2 points, 13.9 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 2.2 blocks and 1.5 steals per game for the season. Having recorded career highs in points, rebounds, blocks and leading the league rebounds, Garnett was named the league Most Valuable Player for the first time in his career. With a franchise-record 58 wins, the Wolves stormed into the playoffs, and finally vanquished their playoff bane by defeating the Denver Nuggets 4–1 in the first round. After disposing of the strong Sacramento Kings 4–3 in the Western Conference Semifinals, Garnett and the Timberwolves met the Lakers. In the Western Conference Finals against the Lakers, playmaker Cassell went down with a back injury. With reserve point guard Hudson also injured, the Timberwolves alternated between third playmaker Darrick Martin and shooting guard Fred Hoiberg at the "one", or even running Garnett himself as point forward or a real point guard. The Los Angeles Lakers pulled off a 4–2 victory in the series.
In the 2004–05 season, Garnett was named to the All-NBA Second Team, but the Timberwolves failed to make the playoffs for the first time in eight years with a record of 44–38. The 2005–06 season brought more frustration for Garnett. Sprewell turned down a 3-year $21 million dollar extension, and the Wolves wary of his injuries and age, traded Cassell for the much less effective Marko Jaric, and the team record for '05–'06 fell to 33–49. Despite Garnett's play, the team logged the second worst record since Garnett joined the franchise. On 10 May 2007 Garnett was named to the All-NBA Third Team.
During the 2007 off-season, Taylor admitted that although he had planned on retaining Garnett, he would finally listen to trade offers. Garnett's name was mentioned in various trade rumors involving the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers, Boston Celtics, Phoenix Suns, and Dallas Mavericks.
Boston Celtics (2007–2013)
On July 31, 2007, Garnett was traded to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair, Gerald Green, Theo Ratliff, cash considerations, Boston's 2009 first-round draft pick (top 3 protected), and the 2009 first-round pick which Minnesota had traded to Boston in the Ricky Davis-Wally Szczerbiak trade of 2006. The 7-for-1 deal constitutes the largest number of players traded for a single player in league history. At the time of the trade, Garnett had the longest current tenure of any player in the NBA with one team, having played for the Timberwolves for his first 12 seasons (a total of 927 games). Garnett said that he was proud to be a part of the Celtics, and hoped to continue its proud tradition and basketball success. On the day the trade was announced, Garnett signed a three-year $60 million contract extension that would start after his prior deal ran out in 2009. On August 1, 2007 the day after signing his Celtics contract, Garnett threw the ceremonial first pitch at Fenway Park prior to a Red Sox-Orioles game. Garnett has claimed to be a long-time Red Sox fan.
The trade for Garnett had many experts speculating that the Celtics would have a resurgence during the 2007–08 season. The combination of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Garnett were almost automatically nicknamed "The Big Three" by the media, after the Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish trio. Garnett wore jersey number 5 for the Celtics since his number with the Timberwolves, number 21, was retired by the Celtics, previously worn by Bill Sharman. He made his Boston debut with a strong performance against the Washington Wizards, with 22 points and 20 rebounds. He also led all players in voting for the 2008 NBA All-Star Game. Garnett received 2,399,148 votes, the sixth highest total in NBA All-Star balloting history. However, Garnett was unable to play due to an abdominal strain, and Detroit Pistons forward Rasheed Wallace was named by NBA Commissioner David Stern to replace him. East All-Star head coach Doc Rivers replaced Garnett with Toronto Raptors forward Chris Bosh in the starting lineup. Garnett passed 20,000 points for his career, becoming the 32nd player in NBA history to reach the mark, with a layup in the 2nd quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies on March 8, 2008. On April 22, 2008, Garnett was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year for the 2007–08 season. It was the only major award a Celtic player had not claimed since the franchise's foundation in 1946. Garnett said it was a team effort which helped him win the award. Garnett was also third in MVP voting for the year, behind only Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul. Garnett helped the Celtics to their 17th NBA Championship, with 26 points and 14 rebounds in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. During that championship season, Garnett and Celtics legend Bill Russell had heart to heart conversations together which were captured on television. On June 18, 2008, Garnett and Ray Allen appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman, soon after winning the championship.
In the 2008–09 season, Garnett started all of the 57 games he was able to suit up for. He averaged 15.8 points 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists. On October 31, 2008, Garnett became the youngest player in NBA history to reach 1,000 career games, at 32 years and 165 days. Garnett earned his twelfth consecutive All-Star Game start on February 15, 2009. Following the All-Star Game, during a game against the Utah Jazz, Garnett strained his right knee late in the second quarter. The injury occurred on February 19, 2009, while attempting to go up for an alley-oop. He was forced to miss the next 14 games. Upon his return from the injury, he averaged 9 points and 4.5 rebounds in four games before being shut down for the season permanently, missing the final 25 games of the regular season including the 2009 NBA playoffs due to a right knee sprain. The Celtics would advance to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals that year, only to be eliminated by the Orlando Magic.
In the 2009–10 season, Garnett and the Celtics, joined by newly signed free agent Rasheed Wallace, struggled with injuries and inconsistency throughout much of the regular season and earned the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Garnett was selected to play in the 2010 NBA All-Star Game (his 13th All-Star Game selection). Despite being written off by nearly every major sports analyst, the Celtics elevated their play and consistently dominated opponents much as they did during their 2008 Championship run. They eliminated the Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Orlando Magic to advance to face the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2010 NBA Finals. The 2010 Finals went to a decisive seventh game in Los Angeles, where the Celtics led well into the third quarter before the Lakers mounted a comeback and held on for the victory.
In the 2010–11 NBA season, Garnett and the Celtics started strong, winning 23 of their first 26 games. On December 30, 2010, Garnett injured his right knee after he tried to dunk. He missed two weeks with the injury. Garnett returned on January 17, 2011, against the Orlando Magic. He recorded 19 points and 8 rebounds in an win. The Celtics ended the regular season third in the Eastern Conference behind the Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat. Garnett averaged under 15 points, under 9 rebounds, and a career low 0.8 blocks per game. After sweeping the New York Knicks in the first round, they faced the Heat in the Eastern Semifinals. After losing the first two games of the series, Garnett's playoff high 28 points helped the Celtics take game 3. However, the Heat won the next two games, winning the series.
In the lockout shortened 2011–12 NBA season, Garnett and the Celtics started off slowly, being below .500 with a 15-17 record by the All-Star break. Garnett was not selected for the All-Star game for the first time in 11 years. After, however, Boston quickly became one of the best teams in the league, finishing the second half of the season with a 24-10 record, entering the playoffs as the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference with a 39-27 record. Boston made a deep run in the playoffs, going all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals. They faced the Atlanta Hawks in the first round, defeating them in six games. Boston then defeated the Philadelphia 76ers after a challenging 7 game series. Boston made the Eastern Conference Finals for the 3rd time in 5 years, and faced another superstar trio in Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James of the Miami Heat. Miami won the first two games, lost the next three games, and came back to win the final two games and reach the NBA Finals for the third time in franchise history (they would eventually go on to beat the Oklahoma Thunder in 5 games). Garnett would find a resurgence in the playoffs, averaging 19.2 PPG, 10.3 RPG and 1.4 BPG.
On June 30, 2012, Garnett agreed to a three-year contract extension with the Celtics worth an estimated $34 million. On January 17, 2013, it was announced that Garnett had been voted to start in the 2013 All-Star Game in Houston. On February 7, 2013, Garnett recorded his 25,000th point in a 116-95 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
Brooklyn Nets (2013–present)
On June 28, 2013, the day of the NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets reached a deal to trade Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry for future first-round picks in the 2014, 2016, and 2018 drafts and Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, Kris Joseph, MarShon Brooks, and Keith Bogans. The deal was finally completed on July 12, 2013. Brooklyn also received D. J. White. Garnett announced that the number 5 jersey he wore in Boston was not available with the Nets, so he would wear number 2 to honor his former Minnesota Timberwolves teammate Malik Sealy.
NBA career statistics
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
- Correct as of 2012-13 season