According to Steve Aschburner of NBA.com, an unidentified friend of Garnett said, “I think that's what we've been seeing in these playoffs. The way he's been playing, it's like he wants to go out on his terms.”
Garnett has had a Hall of Fame career that started when the Minnesota Timberwolves selected him with the fifth overall pick in the 1995 NBA Draft.
The zealous power forward was voted league MVP in 2004 and Defensive Player of the Year in 2008, and has been selected to 14 All-Star games.
He was part of the All-NBA First Team four times and the All-Defensive First Team nine times. He also led the league in rebounding in four different seasons.
Garnett spent 12 seasons with the Timberwolves and the only thing missing from his résumé was a championship. In 2007, he was traded to the Boston Celtics and formed the “Big Three”, alongside Ray Allen and Paul Pierce.
The All-Star trio won a title in their first season together. To date, that is Garnett’s only championship.
He is now 36 years old and his physical skills have declined. He is no longer the elite athlete he once was, but he still proved this season that he can be extremely effective.
Garnett has career averages of 19.3 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. This season, he posted 15.8 points and 8.2 boards per game.
Statistics aside, Garnett has built a reputation for himself as one of the fiercest competitors in the league. He has been the driving force behind the Celtics' defense, which has been one of the best in league every season since he arrived.
If going out on his own terms is what Garnett wants, then he has already earned that.
The Celtics looked to be in trouble early on in the year, just barely hanging onto one of the final playoff spots. But the team made a late surge and Garnett was a catalyst behind this turnaround. The Celtics are now in the Eastern Conference Finals for the third time in five seasons.
If Garnett does retire following the season, his intensity, effort and skill will be missed not only by Boston fans, but by all basketball fans.