Kevin Garnett probably would have been a Hall of Fame big man no matter what team he’d played for in the NBA. Averaging 17.8 points and 10.0 rebounds—leading the NBA in rebounding four consecutive years—will do that for a guy.
But after Garnett’s induction as a first-ballot inductee became official on Saturday, he appeared on ESPN’s SportsCenter and said it was the trade that brought him to Boston in 2007 that put him over the edge as a Hall of Fame player. The Celtics won the NBA championship the following year and went to The Finals in 2010, losing in seven games to the Lakers.
Garnett will join the Hall of Fame with three other first-ballot inductees. Kobe Bryant, who passed away in a tragic helicopter accident in January, will headline the class, and Spurs forward Tim Duncan will also be onstage. All three retired in 2016. In the WNBA, Indiana Fever star Tamika Catchings, who also retired in 2016, also earned a spot in her first time on the ballot.
Speaking to Celtics legend Paul Pierce, Garnett’s teammate in Boston from 2007-2013, Garnett said, “Playing with Paul (Pierce), playing with Ray (Allen), coming to Boston was a huge, huge, huge, huge, huge, huge challenge in my life. It was probably one of the biggest decisions I made in my career, and I’m glad I made it. We should have got together a couple years earlier, right? We’d probably be sitting on about two or three, more rings, but, you know, it’s all good, man. I’m glad to be going in a class with Timmy. I’m very honored to be going into a class with the great Kobe Bryant, Tamika Catchings and others.”
Garnett, Bryant, Duncan and Catchings had 55 All-Star appearances among them. In January, the Hall of Fame’s chairman, Jerry Colangelo, said that the 2020 group was, “Expected to be arguably the most epic class ever with Kobe, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett. Kobe will be honored the way he should be.”
Four Top Coaches Also in HOF Class
Also earning a spot in the Hall will be four coaches: two-time Coach of the Year Rudy Tomjanovich, who led the Rockets to two championships in 1994 and 1995; four-time NCAA Coach of the Year Eddie Sutton; Baylor coach Kim Mulkey, who led the team to three NCAA championships; and Barbara Stevens, a five-time Div. II Coach of the Year at Bentley and Clark.
Patrick Baumann, the FIBA Secretary-General who died at age 51 in 2018, was also voted for induction.
Kevin Garnett Recalled Decision to Accept Celtics Trade
Earlier this year Garnett recalled, in a conversation with NBA.com’s Steve Aschbruner, the circumstances of his leaving Minnesota in 2007, after having played with the Wolves since he was drafted out of high school in 1995. Minnesota was ready to begin rebuilding and wanted to trade Garnett, but wanted to include Garnett’s approval in any deal the team made.
Garnett chatted with Pierce, whom he’d known for a while. He chatted with Steve Nash, because Phoenix was interested in trading for him. But he could not get hold of Bryant.
“In ’07, I had a chance to go to Phoenix. I had a chance to go to the Warriors. To the Celtics, obviously, and the Lakers. I was trying to get Kobe on the phone, and he was on a Nike Italy Something [tour]. … I had to make a decision. I had a conversation with Steve Nash, and it was a terrible conversation. And I had known Paul [Pierce], Paul and I were friends from way back, 14-15 years old.”
He said advice he’d gotten from former teammates Tyronn Lue and Chauncey Billups helped guide his decision to leave Minnesota and approve a deal to Boston.
“That’s when I first started to actually think about, ‘I’ve got to leave Minny? Aw man,’” Garnett said. “Shoutout to Minny, man. I didn’t want to leave but I felt like I had no choice, too. But the opportunity in Boston was a great one, I’m glad I made the decision to do that. I’m glad I had friends, real ones, to kind of take me through that.”
Turns out, those friends helped take him all the way to the Basketball Hall of Fame.