Garnett looks back, not ahead while explaining 'last All-Star' comment
Kevin Garnett has been a fixture at All-Star weekend, and so his comments earlier this week that this would be his last warranted some follow-up.
They also provided the forum for looking back on KG and all that he has lived through in 15 All-Star appearances, a lifetime for a sport that has changed so much since Garnett headlined the first wave of high school-to-pro stars in the mid-'90s.
First: Garnett is not retiring -- not with $18.4 million guaranteed to him over the next two years -- and he's not boycotting future All-Star Games. The world is not ending in some sort of chest-thumping, cuss-filled, KG-inspired rapture.
He just misspoke. Or we misinterpreted. Or something. Just another episode in the longstanding cat-and-mouse game between Garnett, that old dog, and the media.
"I took the question as if someone was asking me about the next year, and I have no insight to say that I was going to be a definite All Star," Garnett said Friday during All-Star media availability. "So it came out like I was saying this was my last. But I’m not an egotistical guy or none of that, so I wasn’t just going to say I was going to be an All-Star next year."
Asked what he'd meant with the cryptic comment, "You all don't know what I know," Garnett said, "Exactly what it meant, that you guys don’t know what I know."
"And what do you know that we don't know?" I asked.
"That you don't know," he said.
So with that non-story story out of the way, Garnett -- in a rare, unfiltered mood -- reflected on his 14 previous trips to the All-Star Game, how the game has evolved and how he might be remembered.
His favorite All-Star moments?
"Meeting Wilt Chamberlain in Cleveland , Kobe's first All-Star Game in New York ['98], '03 in Atlanta because it was close to home and I had a bunch of friends and family that I hadn’t seen, Jordan’s last All-Star Game -- those are some of the ones that stand out," Garnett said.
On his postseason adversary, LeBron James, Garnett said, "LeBron’s playing with what comes off as an uncanny amount of confidence in himself. For the first time, it looks like he’s not playing for anybody else but himself and his team. It’s coming off like he’s not really into the naysayers or what you’ve got to say about him. He’s playing as comfortable and as poised as I’ve seen him. He’s won multiple MVPs, he’s played very well, obviously, in some postseasons, but this is probably the most comfortable I’ve seen him in his own skin."
In a roomful of youngsters, Garnett, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan were the lone graybeards on Friday. Garnett said as the years go by, he appreciates these moments more.
"As you get older, you tend to cling on. You tend to appreciate those small moments -- moments like this -- and I’m no different from that," he said. "You’ve got to take this and enjoy it a little bit more. I appreciate it, and I’ve grown to appreciate it. ... I’m more than grateful to be here. I’m obviously honored and humbled to have this opportunity to be here with this great class of guys."
With far more All-Star appearances, chest thumps and profane tirades behind him than ahead of him, Garnett assessed what his imprint on the game has been. If nothing else, it has been loud, consistent and competitive -- reaching levels for all three that few who've ever played the game can match.
"I’m nothing new on the block that someone hasn’t seen, nor when I leave will nobody walk through and have a similar style," Garnett said. "I never looked to claim anything from this game because there are plenty of players that have come before me. I’ve always said I just play it hard, I work on my craft and I tried to perfect my craft as best I could. And that’s what I am; I’m a worker and a person who loves what he does.
"I’m sure there’s people in the past who came through and had that kind of makeup. And after I’m gone, I’m pretty sure there will be somebody else who has that type of makeup."
Not likely. Not quite like KG.
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This doesn't mean we need to change the system though