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Kevin Garnett Retires: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist

BROOKLYN, NY - APRIL 27: Kevin Garnett #2 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on against the Toronto Raptors during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals  at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

Ending what is one of the greatest careers in modern NBA history, Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett announced his retirement after 21 seasons on Friday.  

Per Kent Youngblood of the Star Tribune, Garnett and the Timberwolves reached an agreement on a contract buyout. On Saturday, Shams Charania of The Vertical reported Garnett was released via NBA waivers, officially ending his career. 

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released a statement on Garnett's decision, via Marc J. Spears of ESPN's The Undefeated:

Marc J. Spears @MarcJSpearsESPN

Adam Silver statement on Kevin Garnett https://t.co/kKSFoC5DnL

Garnett, 40, walks away from a career that should result in a first-class ticket to Springfield, Massachusetts, as an inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.  

After returning to the Timberwolves via trade in February 2015, Garnett signed a two-year contract extension last summer that was set to expire after the 2016-17 season before his buyout. 

He made 15 All-Star appearances, 12 All-Defensive teams, nine All-NBA teams and won one MVP in his career, averaging 17.8 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.

He split his 21 seasons across three teams, although two are far more prominent than the other. He spent parts of 14 of those campaigns in Minnesota and another six in Boston, and he was a Brooklyn Net for a year-and-a-half. The latter tenure was the worst of his career, as the Nets went from preseason championship contenders in 2013 to one of the biggest high-cost failures in league history.

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Garnett's triumphant return to Minnesota, which lasted all of 43 regular-season games, came after he'd exhausted all options in making Brooklyn a success. Viewed as a pseudo-retirement party to some, he started 38 games in 2015-16 and took on a mentorship role to the young Minnesota roster.

Karl-Anthony Towns wrote in GQ

KG is one of a kind. He's not one of a kind once every other day or week. He's one of a kind every single day, and that's what makes him special. Something small like tipping a ball out of bounds on defense will happen and we'll clap, but KG is just standing up going crazy like someone just got dunked on with the best poster of all time. I think everyone needs his energy. It pushes us to be great.

A prodigious talent out of the storied Farragut Academy in Chicago, Garnett skipped college and was selected No. 5 overall by the Timberwolves in 1995. But whereas most young rookies in those days earned their NBA stripes by sitting on the bench, it was clear from the beginning that Garnett belonged.

Helping instantly to resurrect a fallen Minnesota franchise, Garnett made his first All-Star appearance in his second NBA season—less than 24 months after graduating high school. The Timberwolves would make their first playoff appearance that year, starting what would become a frustrating string of postseason exits.

For seven consecutive seasons—in which Garnett established himself as one of the NBA’s best big men alongside Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Duncan—Garnett’s Timberwolves never made it out of the first round. As Duncan and O’Neal were accumulating rings, it always seemed like Garnett would be third on the totem pole.

And then Garnett’s historic 2003-04 season flipped the script. He set career highs almost across the board, finishing with 24.2 points, 13.9 rebounds and five assists per game en route to winning his first (and only) MVP. 

But again, it ended without an NBA title. Though the top-seeded Timberwolves made it to the conference finals, they again failed to advance—seemingly ending Garnett’s chance of ever capturing an NBA championship. 

Right until a series of fateful moves sent Garnett to the Celtics.

While he left his best individual seasons behind in Minnesota, Boston became a second home. Traded to the Celtics in July 2007 for a package that included Al Jefferson, Garnett joined a roster that already boasted Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.

Together, they formed the first Big Three that would help shape the NBA team-building landscape. Those 2007-08 Celtics will go down as one of the best teams in franchise history, winning 66 games and marching their way to a trouncing of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Garnett led Boston every step of the way, winning the Defensive Player of the Year Award and emerging as the emotional leader.

Known for his legendary competitive streak, Garnett was the classic “love him if he’s on your team, hate him if he isn’t” player. He would get in the faces and the minds of opponents, becoming renowned as one of the most intimidating trash-talkers of his time.

The Celtics’ Big Three would not win another NBA championship—though they came within one game in 2010—but they forever became known for their playoff heroics. As the core got older and injuries piled up, Garnett’s Celtics were in a perpetual state of being written off until April and May.  

Garnett’s career did not end by riding off into the sunset as an NBA champion. He took one last shot by accepting a trade to the Nets, but the magic subsided. Pierce and Garnett spent one "horrible" season together in Brooklyn before the former departed for Washington, D.C. Given the chance to escape at the 2015 trade deadline, Garnett brought his career full circle by finishing things out in Minnesota.

And anything, again, seemed possible.

    

Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter

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