Celtics Legend Kevin Garnett Reveals He Almost Joined Hated Rival

Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics

Getty Boston Celtics Legend Kevin Garnett at the TD Garden.

Kevin Garnett is one of the Boston Celtics greatest ever players, blending incredible skill with a fearsome intensity. Yet, Garnett came close to not becoming a Celtics legend, furthermore, he flirted with becoming their nemesis.

The NBA draws many similarities with the Marvel Universe, it has heroes, villains, anti-heroes, and so forth. But, it’s Marvel’s recent “What If…?” series where the similarities become striking, and in a recent interview with Micahel Pina of GQ Magazine, Garnett sent us down one of those “What If” rabbit holes with some of his comments.

“Garnett had reservations about going to play in Boston, even after speaking to Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. That’s partly because before he made a final decision, he wanted to talk with Kobe. The only problem: Bryant was touring China for Nike and, from Garnett’s point of view, couldn’t be bothered to discuss a future as teammates,” Pina wrote, as he explored Garnett’s options after requesting a trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves.

According to Garnett, he often wonders how his career would have gone had he joined Kobe Bryant and the Los Angles Lakers.

“I’ve often wondered what playing with [Kobe] would’ve been like. Beside [Kobe], you know? What would we have been like? If playing with [Paul Pierce] was like this, then playing with [Kobe] would’ve been like what?” Garnett told Pina during the interview.

If Garnett had chosen the Lakers over the Celtics, Boston’s trajectory would have been totally different. They would likely never trade for Ray Allen, Ainge would never assemble the title-winning 2008 team, Paul Pierce likely ends his career without a championship to his name, and the landscape of the NBA’s elite possibly shifts as a result.

LeBron James Was ‘Like a Little Homie’

It’s a well-known fact that Garnett was the first player in over 20 years to make the jump directly from high school to the NBA, and it was his experience in adapting to the professional game at a young age that made him a father figure to those that followed in his footsteps.

“In 1995, Garnett became the first player in 20 years to go straight from high school to the NBA, a decision that led Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Tracy McGrady, Dwight Howard, and over 30 other prospects to follow in his footsteps before the NBA prohibited the jump in 2005,” Pina wrote in his GQ interview.

Multiple future Hall Of Famer’s made the prep-to-pro jump after Garnett, but the one who is still dominating the league to this day, and is often considered one of the two best players of all time is LeBron James. Garnett recalls that both he and James have mutual respect for each other, but for the former champion, that respect is due to James’ dominance since entering the NBA.

“With LeBron, it was more like the little homie. Here’s the little homie growing up, and man, little homie is getting better than everybody! God damn!” Garnett told Pina.

Garnett and James went to battle numerous times between 2003 and 2016, with StatHead tracking Garnett slightly winning their battles, but Jame’s dominating the stat sheet. In 30 regular-season games, Garnett tasted victory 16 times and averaged 16.6 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.2 blocks per game.

James, who only tasted victory in 14 games, outperformed his veteran counterpart, averaging 29 points, 7.4 board, 6.5 dimes, and 1.7 steals per game.

The playoffs were a different story, one which James dominated. The pair faced off for 30 playoff games, with the Space Jam: A New Legacy star winning 17 times and averaging 29.1 points, 8.4 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.7 steals, and 1.3 blocks.

Garnett, on the other hand, averaged 16 points, 9.4 boards, and 2 dimes, as his “little homie” began to flourish in the league.

Garnett Sees Himself Returning to NBA in Ownership Role

After a well-documented attempt to be part of the Minnesota Timberwolves new ownership team failed to materialize, Garnett tells Pina he’s biding his time for the right opportunity to surface.

“I’m going to be in someone’s ownership [group], if not my own at some point. You already know how it works when it [comes to] opportunity,” Garnett tells Pina, “You gotta wait on yours.”

While Garnett waits for an opportunity to re-enter the NBA in an ownership capacity to surface, he’s focusing on telling his story, with his new documentary “Anything Is Possible” due for release on November 12th on Showtime.

Reading the full interview, one thing remains abundantly clear, Kevin Garnett is still the intense, highly-driven individual he was during his playing time, and this isn’t the last time we will hear of him making waves across multiple industries.


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