Yesterday, Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett announced his retirement after 21 legendary seasons in the NBA. Garnett had a massive impact on the league, including being one of the first players to come to the NBA immediately after high school, ushering in an era that saw Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and others doing the same thing.
Over the last 24 hours since his announcement, players have taken to social media to show just how big Garnett’s impact on their league was.
I mean where do I start. First watching you play at the Solon Cage Classic in Ohio with Team Michigan when u were in HS, I believe I was 10 years old and I was like dang this dude nice!! Then a lil time passed and u were drafted straight out of HS to the pros so I felt like man whoever get him is a lucky team. And I surely wasn't wrong! The KID nickname was fly, swaged out and made a 10 year old kid from Akron believe he could run with the big boys himself! Fast forward 8 years later that kid you inspired entered the draft fresh out of HS as well. Thank you!! Competing vs you in whatever uniform u were in at the time meant the world to me because of two distinctive trait u had. Passion and commitment to just compete every single possession. U showed me what it took and we never played on the same team(All-Star games is different). Thank you! Congratulations to The Big Ticket on a helluva career! HOF is your next stop to cap it all off, the cherry on top!! 1 Love
Legend. G.O.A.T. My brother. pic.twitter.com/rYQEtkvpp3
— Rajon Rondo (@RajonRondo) September 24, 2016
Amazing career for KG! Ultra talented and one of the most intense players I've ever seen. Loved his passion for defense. He was a beast…
— Scottie Pippen (@ScottiePippen) September 23, 2016
— Chris Paul (@CP3) September 24, 2016
— Evan Fournier (@EvanFourmizz) September 23, 2016
Salute to KG on a great career, always loved the competitiveness and fire he brought every night?. A true inspiration. #ThankYouKG
— Rudy Gobert (@rudygobert27) September 24, 2016
Every player that ever played basketball would love the Big ticket as a teammate… Dude is really one of a kind!!
— Jordan Crawford (@jcraw55) September 23, 2016
I got several KG stories dawg… Dude crazy man lol
— Jordan Crawford (@jcraw55) September 23, 2016
One of the realist ✊? https://t.co/o29erIU0Up
— CJ McCollum (@CJMcCollum) September 23, 2016
KG, one of the players I always wanted to play with..I always admired his love for the game, talent, and unselfishness.. #top10favplayerever
— Jamal Crawford (@JCrossover) September 23, 2016
Man I'll always get to tell the story that I got to play against Kobe, Timmy, and KG. #Blessed ??
— Devin Booker (@DevinBook) September 24, 2016
— Derrick Favors (@dfavors14) September 23, 2016
— Emmanuel Mudiay (@emmanuelmudiay) September 24, 2016
Always had my back regardless if you was in green or not. Thank you for everything you did.#5 #21 you will be missed pic.twitter.com/G1IB3BMpaw
— Jared Sullinger (@Jared_Sully0) September 23, 2016
I'll never 4get my rookie yr in the club in Htown.Tryin to Mac to a yng lady. Ticket slapped me in the back of the head and said stop lyin??
— Dorell Wright (@DWRIGHTWAY1) September 23, 2016
If you ever wanna know how hard or intense you're supposed to play, watch KG highlights. #ThanksKG
— Jerian Grant (@JerianGrant) September 23, 2016
Salute to KG! 21 season as a fierce competitor. Congrats on a great career! pic.twitter.com/LMy8VA2BTv
— Mike Conley (@mconley11) September 23, 2016
KG, Kobe and Timmy all gone at the same time. An end to a great era. You guys will be missed! #Legends
— Nik Stauskas (@NStauskas11) September 23, 2016
Not KG too.. This year has been too much ?
— Larry Nance Jr (@Larrydn22) September 23, 2016
— Jonas Jerebko (@JonasJerebko) September 23, 2016
Kevin Garnett once said when he retires he would disappear & if you wanted to find him he would be playing at YMCA in Malibu. I believe him.
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) September 23, 2016
Never forget https://t.co/UodD4dWKlt
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) September 23, 2016
As you can see, KG made an impact on the league as an idol, a mentor, a teammate, and a competitor. He was one of the greatest defensive players to ever play the game, won an MVP in 2004, and won the NBA championship in 2008.
It’s notable that many of the players paying tribute here are younger guys who have probably been watching KG dominate since they were kids. With a career spanning 21 years, KG played in the league longer than some players — including his protege Karl-Anthony Towns — have been alive.
KG leaves behind a legacy of more than just amazing basketball. He was a world-class trash-talker and brought arguably more intensity to every game than any player in history. If Marc Spears is right and KG will be found only at the YMCA in Malibu from now on, the league will miss him dearly.