The Big Ticket: What I Learned From Kevin Garnett

It suddenly got very dusty in my room today when I read the news out of Minnesota that Kevin Garnett will retire.  I LOVE Kevin Garnett.  Perhaps the biggest reason is the following list of the Timberwolves first round draft choices prior to picking Kevin Garnett: Pooh Richardson, Felton Spencer, Gerald Glass, Luc Longley, Christian Laettner, Isaiah Rider, and Donyell Marshall.  Wow.  Obviously, it wasn’t until the 1995 draft that the Timberwolves won the lottery (with the #5 pick)!

How deep is my connection to Kevin Garnett?  The picture above is of the shoes that I wear to the gym … every day. I own a game used jersey and shorts of his. I even bought season tickets to the Utah Jazz so that I would be guaranteed to have good seats to watch Kevin Garnett play.  In fact, I will spend the weekend looking for it, but I own a great picture of Garnett shooting over four Utah Jazz players – with me smiling in the background.  After a friend gave me the picture, I announced that it was worth every penny I ever spent on Jazz Tickets.

There is a reason the word fan is short for fanatic.

Here are three things that I learned watching Kevin Garnett play the game of basketball:

  • Hard Work – Kevin Garnett played in 1462 regular season NBA games, and he played in 143 playoff games.  Between 1999 and 2004  he averaged just under 40 minutes per game.  That is what everyone sees.  What we didn’t see was the practice, conditioning, and off-season training that allowed him to play all those games, compete for all those minutes, and lead his team for so long.  Honestly, when I think of all of that hard work, I’m extremely grateful that he was able to win a championship with Boston.
  • Passion, not Emotion – I often heard Garnett referred to as an emotional player.  I believe that is wrong.  His passion for the game of basketball and trying to help his team win was off the charts.  That’s different than emotion.  Passion keeps you working hard when nobody is watching.  Passion keeps you coming back for more after you have more than enough money (Garnett made over $300 Million playing basketball in his career).  Emotion is debilitating.  Passion keeps you moving forward.  I learned the difference from Kevin Garnett.
  • Mentoring – As Charles Barkley and others say, Father Time is still undefeated.  Last year, Kevin Garnett passed the torch to Karl-Anthony Towns.  I LOVE Towns.  I love his attitude and his desire to build a championship in Minnesota.  As I look at him, I am grateful for the influence that Garnett had on him.  I’m grateful for Garnett’s willingness to help teach and inspire the next generation.

Yes, I’m a homer.  Why else would I care about the Timberwolves?  For most of the last twenty years, Kevin Garnett was that reason.  I’ll think of him again tomorrow as I put my #21 shoes on and head to the gym.

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