Garnett during these playoffs is averaging a torrid 20 points and 10 rebounds. At a time when most experts, fans and one Atlanta Hawk owner wrote off the 36 year old power forward, he's proving everyone wrong. Garnett has been one of the most productive forwards to step foot on an NBA court since his arrival straight from high school.
There were rumors in the past weeks of Garnett contemplating retirement, perhaps, after these playoffs. It was said that Garnett wanted to go out on top, and leave the game still being able to play at a high level. He's done that and much more. But even if KG decides to hang 'em up, I can make the case that he would go down in NBA history as the third best power forward ever.
For those wondering, I have Tim Duncan listed as the greatest PF, simply from a accomplishment standpoint, as Duncan is one of the most decorated players in NBA history, with four NBA titles, three Finals MVPs, two NBA MVPs and numerous All-Star and All-NBA selections. No power forward can touch Duncan when it comes to awards and accolades, but I have to make one thing clear. Even though hypotheticals never work never well in sports, I always firmly believed that if you switched Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett's teams, your looking at Garnett having four to five rings, maybe even more. Let's not forget that Tim Duncan was brought into NBA royalty when he had a Hall of Famer in David Robinson play alongside him, then his team drafted two All-Stars in Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. This is not to take anything away from Tim Duncan's greatness but it's a point that can't be left unsaid.
Next, I have the "Mailman" Karl Malone. Even though he doesn't have an NBA title to his resume, his statistical prowess is so great that it overshadows it. His longevity also puts him ahead of Garnett, as evident by the fact that Malone has the second most points in NBA history. Also, it's important to note that Malone went to two NBA finals, and could have won both had he not run into the great Michael Jordan and his Chicago Bulls, who were just playing at a level no other team could match.
The list stops there though. There is no one outside of those two power forwards I just listed that is superior to Kevin Garnett. While Duncan and Malone are certainly great accomplishment wise, Garnett can hold his own. He's got a championship, an NBA MVP, a defensive player of the year award (which neither Duncan nor Malone have), a 14 time NBA All-Star and numerous All-NBA and All-NBA defense teams.
Accomplishments aside, Garnett is the most versatile power forward in NBA history. His mid-range game is excellent, he's a gifted passer (averaged six assists a game in one season) and right on par with Duncan as the best post defender in the NBA. His passion, hunger and love of the game are seen every time he steps foot on an NBA court.
For those that may argue that he isn't better than Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin McHale, Elvin Hayes or Charles Barkley because he's only got one title (obviously doesn't apply to Barkley, who has none), I tell you this. Garnett's loyalty cost him a chance at multiple titles because the team that he spent 12 years of his career in the Minnesota Timberwolves, never supported him with the right group of players. The trade to the Celtics was a godsend for KG and showed people that he wasn't just some decent player putting on great numbers on mediocre teams.
When I analyze Kevin Garnett's career, I look more for his play on the court rather than his accomplishments (which are amazing, nonetheless). KG's passion and heart resonate with NBA fans the way Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson's passion resonated. Tim Duncan and Karl Malone were models or consistency but never made you love the game like Kevin Garnett did.
You don't have to be a fan of someone to recognize greatness, and Kevin Garnett is greatness personified.
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