Kevin Garnett recently sat down with fellow former Boston Celtics great Kevin McHale for an in-depth interview on NBA TV. The Big Ticket offered his candid thoughts on various topics, including his dislike of AAU basketball.
Garnett, who partook in AAU competition before joining the Association straight from high school, condemned the organization for not properly instructing young players:
Our league now is at a point where you have to teach more than anything. AAU has killed our league. Seriously. I hate to even say this, but it’s real. From the perspective that these kids are not being taught anything. They have intentions and they want things, but the way they see it is not how our league works. You earn everything in this league. You’re not entitled to anything. And it’s more entitlement than anything.
He's not the first to lodge such complaints. Two years ago, per ESPN.com's Arash Markazi, Kobe Bryant said young European players "are just way more skillful" because of "horrible, terrible AAU basketball."
It's stupid. It doesn't teach our kids how to play the game at all so you wind up having players that are big and they bring it up and they do all this fancy crap and they don't know how to post. They don't know the fundamentals of the game. It's stupid.
Two weeks ago on ESPN's Mike & Mike, Charles Barkley called the current generation of NBA stars "AAU babies" unable to handle criticism. His label came in response to Dwyane Wade and Draymond Green's support of LeBron James, who took offense to the TNT analyst calling him "whiny," per ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin.
Garnett discussed multiple topics with McHale during their lengthy conversation. At 21 years old, Garnett signed a massive contract extension, which forced him to quickly mature into the Minnesota Timberwolves' cornerstone:
Over a decade later, he won his first championship with the Celtics. He discussed the hard work fueling their title run as well as his famous celebratory cry:
When asked about 2010's Game 7 NBA Finals loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, he said it was "the most tired I've ever been in a game":
Garnett used the AAU as a stepping stone to a Hall of Fame career, but that didn't change his harsh stance on the system.