Kevin Garnett has never been known as the forgiving type. He still has not allowed his jersey to be retired by the Minnesota Timberwolves due to a longstanding feud with the franchise's outgoing owner, Glen Taylor. And that isn't even Garnett's most famous beef. That honor belongs to former teammate Ray Allen.
Allen and Garnett spent five seasons together with the Boston Celtics and won the 2008 NBA championship in their first season as teammates. However, Allen left the Celtics in 2012 to sign with the Miami Heat, Boston's chief rival at the time. The Celtics had just lost to LeBron James and the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, so the wound was fresh. For quite some time, the relationship remained frosty.
But Allen attended Garnett's jersey retirement ceremony last season, and the relationship was finally confirmed to have been repaired when they hugged on the stage and Garnett said that Allen should be the next Celtic to have his number retired. How did that happen? According to Garnett on Kevin Hart's "Cold as Balls" show, it was the death of former on-court rival Kobe Bryant that prompted him to mend fences with Allen.
"The passing of Kobe and all of us getting older helped me understand that life is not given to none of us," Garnett said. "It would've f----- with me if something happened to Ray and I didn't get a chance to amend this."
The Celtics faced Bryant's Lakers in the NBA Finals twice during the Garnett-Allen era. Boston won the the title in 2008, and Los Angeles avenged that defeat in 2010. Bryant died in a helicopter accident in 2020, and the NBA as a whole has mourned his loss ever since.
There's something ironic about Bryant playing a part in this reconciliation. This whole feud started because Allen left Garnett to join James, one of Boston's two greatest rivals of that era. It seems fitting, then, that Bryant, their other major rival, was a driving force behind the two of them reconnecting.