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Kevin Garnett humiliated as Celtics prepare to retire jersey

Celtics

The Celtics will retire Garnett’s No. 5 after Sunday’s game against the Mavericks.

Kevin Garnett will be the last Celtic to have his shirt number retired on Sunday. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

BOSTON (AP) — Post-retirement accolades have rained down on Kevin Garnett over the past few years.

The 15-time NBA All-Star, one of the catalysts for the 2007-08 Boston team that lifted the franchise’s 17th championship banner, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2021.

This year he was honored as a member of the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team and penned an intimate memoir that is a national bestseller.

Now, at 45, KG will add another chapter to his legacy by becoming the 24th member of the Celtics organization to have his jersey number retired in a postgame ceremony with Dallas on Sunday. His No. 5 will be raised to the rafters of TD Garden in the vacant spot next door, and four years later former teammate Paul Pierce saw his No. 34 enshrined among Celtics legends.

It left a player who was the Celtics’ undeniable emotional centerpiece during his six seasons in Boston, searching for ways to describe the moments.

“I’m just trying to soak it up, to be honest I’m trying to be very humble. I don’t know. I’m just this whole thing comes as a shock to me, you know what I mean? When the kids come up to me and express their appreciation for different things. I don’t really know what to say other than, ‘Thank you,'” Garnett said in a recent interview. “I just stayed true to what I was and to whom I was. It was the easiest thing to do. I didn’t want to be something that I wasn’t.

While he retired from the NBA after the 2015-16 season in Minnesota, where his career began, his time with the Celtics transformed his career.

“I’ve always been aware of those who came before me, who paved the way for me,” Garnett said.

When Garnett was drafted fifth overall by the Timberwolves at 19, he ushered in a new era in a league that had never seen a 6-foot-11 player with his skills.

As agile as he was lanky, Garnett moved like a guard, creating the archetypal power forward capable of stretching opposing defenses with his ability to shoot from the perimeter. It revolutionized the league, so much so that players with this ability are now indispensable when building the modern NBA roster.

Although he was never a true center, he still used his 240-pound frame to command his presence in the paint at both ends of the court despite going straight to the pros out of high school.

But after leading the Timberwolves to eight playoff appearances in 12 seasons, Garnett hasn’t quite been able to get them through. After his 10th All-Star selection in 2007, he was dealt to the Celtics as the final piece in an offseason shuffle that paired him with future Hall of Famers Pierce and Ray Allen.

He formed the latest incarnation of the Big Three plan that NBA teams had followed for years – from the reign of the Celtics in the 1960s, the Showtime Lakers of the 1980s to the six-title Bulls led by Michael Jordan in the 1990s. .

Looking back, Garnett acknowledged that he wasn’t sure their version could live up to the championship or fall expectations placed on them in 2007.

“I had great self-confidence. I had great confidence in my abilities. I think my big worries were how was I going to fit in with Paul? How could I mesh with Ray? How do you fit in with some of the young people here? recalls Garnett. “(Former general manager Danny Ainge) had a plan. I don’t know if that was the exact plan, but it worked.

Garnett said doing his homework on Boston and the environment he was entering helped prepare him mentally for his first season in green and white. This fueled his intensity, whether challenging his teammates in training or pushing them in matches.

“I never went to the game less than 100 percent,” Garnett said. “I heard Larry Bird say once in his early years in Boston…the reason he liked to play in front of the fans in Boston is because you couldn’t fake them. You couldn’t fool the fans. They knew when you were playing hard. They knew when you were giving it your all. They had a sense of basketball history and they had a high basketball IQ. They care. And I never forgot that.