Celtic legend Kevin Garnett is getting his #5 retired and up into the illustrious rafters of the TD Garden Sunday afternoon when the red-hot Celtics take on the Mavericks. The Garden will be packed and full of energy when the ball is tipped off on Sunday in a nationally televised contest.
It has been almost nine years since Garnett put on Celtic green, but his legend was never forgotten in the city of Boston. He defined what the franchise of the Celtics is all about. Garnett made those plays that nobody was willing to make in the first quarter. As Garnett lifts himself into a group of Celtics' legends, the world needs to look back on what this man did during his six seasons in Beantown.
During his time in the historic green and white, Garnett was a five-time All-Star and averaged 15.7 points to go along with 8.3 rebounds per game. Danny Ainge was a relatively new general manager at the time and had a big decision to make after the Celtics ended up finishing with a 24-58 record in the 2007 NBA season. The franchise was going in the completely wrong direction, and the team needed a spark to help star forward Paul Pierce.
Ainge went for the big move and secured a player that Pierce had been saying for years for the answer to Banner 17. On July 31, 2007, Danny Ainge dealt five players, and two first-round picks for one of the greatest basketball players on the planet. The Timberwolves vice president at the time was Kevin McHale, and he and ex-teammate Ainge were able to swing together with a deal at the time where Garnett was known for saying that he did not want to play in Boston. Once that was over, and the papers were signed, the rest of it is history, and the big man helped mold a team that wasn't the season before into a contender.
With the help of Allen, and Pierce, Boston went from dead last in the NBA in 2007 to NBA champions in 2008. He was the engine that made the Celtics run on the defensive end. His intensity on both ends of the floor was second to none. The leadership in the locker room and on the hardwood was a huge reason why this team was able to finally win a championship after a 22-year absence.
Garnett played every game like it was Game Seven of the NBA Finals, while others just treated it like a regular-season contest. He left every ounce of blood, and sweat out on the floor every single night, no matter the team, and circumstances. The man that did knuckle pushups in the Eastern Conference Finals, and worked tirelessly to improve his craft on the offensive and defensive end. Every time the big man starts talking, it is like an event that nobody could just tune out.
The one thing that Boston will never forget about Garnett was that he genuinely cared about the fans. He knew how much the game of basketball meant to the city of Boston, and the way he played in Boston was a prime example of paying back the crowd for their constant support. There is no telling what the atmosphere is going to be like on Sunday when Garnett and a lot of his Celtic teammates take the floor following Sunday's game.
Back when Garnett entered the Hall of Fame and during a press conference, he told MassLive reporter Souichi Terada, "I heard Larry Bird say one time in his early years in Boston is that the reason why he loved playing in front of the fans in Boston is because you couldn’t fake them...You couldn’t fool the fans. They knew when you was playing hard. They knew when you were giving your all. They have a sense of basketball history and they have high basketball IQs. They cared and I never forgot that."
From his legendary Game Six of the 2008 NBA Finals to banging his head on the padding of the hoop before every game, Garnett will go down as one of the greatest to wear the words “Boston” or “Celtics” across their chest. He plays with his heart more than anything and engages in defense with more intensity and grit than almost anyone in NBA history. The pounding of his chest and slapping of the parquet floor were trademarks of his game as a whole.
The Hall of Famer is now on the brink of becoming immortal in the eyes of the Celtic franchise. Some people questioned if he had played long enough for him to get his number raised, but that response is quite irrational given the impact he has had on the city of Boston and all of the fans. The Big Ticket is the ultimate winner, and arm-wrestle legend who played the game of basketball unlike anyone has ever seen or will ever see in the history of the league.