ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.
I'll never forget this moment. Exactly where I was, who I was with, what I was doing. The tone in his voice will stick with me forever. It was one of the most special sports moments in my life to date.
Growing up in Boston, I've been a Celtics fan my whole life. And as you may know, the year before the Celtics acquired Garnett, Boston had the worst record in the entire NBA.
During that 2006-07 season, I went to more Celtics games in a single year than ever before. My dad's best friend had season tickets but the team was so bad that he didn't even bother to try and sell individual games. So my dad and I went to as many games as possible and as an 11-year old, I was really starting to observe the game in a different way.
When the season ended the way it did, it was a coin toss in terms of which direction the franchise would go for the future. There were rumours that superstar Paul Pierce would be traded and that the team was going to go into full rebuild mode unless they could surround Pierce with other stars to seriously compete. Now 12 years old, it was the first time I can truly remember following the ins-and-outs of the NBA Draft and lottery, the trade rumour mill, free agency, all of that. I was on the edge of my seat to see where the Celtics were headed, ready to be devastated if they submitted to a rebuild.
I remember exactly where I was when the news broke that the Celtics traded for Garnett. Seeing the old SportsCenter graphic on the television in my parent's room with all of those players and assets they gave up to get the former MVP. (Fun fact: It's still the largest number of players traded for a single player in league history).
I knew it meant the Celtics weren't going to trade Pierce, blow everything up and enter a rebuilding stage. That they were looking to build a championship contender. Then, they traded for Ray Allen on draft night, and I knew that meant real championship aspirations.
Again, as a 12-year-old, I knew that Garnett was an All-Star, one of the best players in the league and a former MVP, but playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves, I rarely got to see him play to that point. I knew his talent level and skillset from his 99 overall rating in NBA Live on PlayStation more than I did from seeing it with my own eyes.
But when he came to Boston and I got to watch him each and every night he took the floor, I quickly realized how unique Garnett was as a player.
Garnett was otherworldly that season. I had never seen anything like him before. The tenacity and intensity he brought every time he played, the ability to handle the ball and push the tempo as a near-7-footer with guard skills. His midrange jumper that seemed to never, ever miss.
And then there was his defence. He was aggressive, wiry and physical. He was quicker than anyone should ever be at that height. He could lock down any player, no matter the position. He was feared. He was the fiercest competitor I've ever seen.
Garnett's efforts were rewarded with Defensive Player of the Year that season. He finished third in MVP voting, too. His numbers weren't comparable to his 2003-04 MVP season, but his impact on taking the Celtics from worst-to-first was undeniable.
And come playoff time, he somehow elevated his through-the-roof intensity to an unreachable level.
He bullied the Atlanta Hawks in a blowout Game 7 win to advance out of the first round for the first time in his career. He put together one of the best playoff performances of his career in a pivotal Game 5 to swing the series against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. He dominated the Detroit Pistons frontcourt in the Conference Finals to finally reach the NBA Finals.
His energy in the championship-clinching Game 6 against the Los Angeles Lakers was the reason for the Celtics pulling off the largest margin of victory in a closeout game in NBA Finals history. If not bitten by the injury bug, who knows how many championships he would have added to his resume during his time in Boston.
But Garnett's impact on the game of basketball goes well beyond stats, accolades and titles.
His legacy is his grit and determination, his attitude and demeanour, the probably-taking-it-too-far trash talking, his never-before-seen skills for a big man.
To add to that list, it's banging his head against the stanchion pregame, the football-like snaps to Rajon Rondo after winning the tip-off, the in-game knuckle push-ups, repping and pulling the "Celtics" on his jersey so hard you thought his uniform was going to tear.
As one of my favourite players of all-time prepares for his Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement this weekend, recognize that there will never be another KG.
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