After arguably Kevin Garnett’s finest performance (given the stakes, how he got his points and the bazillion different ways he impacted the game), the last thing Boston Celtics fans want to hear is talk of his potential retirement. As Josh Smith said after being on the learning side of a clinic during KG’s 38 minutes yesterday night, “He’s got a lot left in the tank.”
But in the aftermath of posting 28 points, 14 rebounds, five blocks, three steals and one game-winning bucket in Boston’s 83-80 series-clinching victory last night, Garnett hinted that this season might be his last (he began his final answer in the press conference with, “Not knowing if this is my last season to play…”). If that quick slip of the tongue seemed harmless enough, hours later, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated reported that several of Garnett’s close friends believe this year will be his last.
No one is completely sure what Kevin Garnett will do next season, when he will become a free agent for the first time in his career. There are those close to him that believe he will retire, that the prospect of another 82 games on his achy right knee will force him out. It takes a lot of work to get Garnett’s surgically repaired knee game ready, sources say, and some friends think that after 17 seasons and more than $290 million in career earnings, KG will call it quits.
I would love to have KG play until he’s 50, as long as he’s still capable of doing one-quarter of the positive things he did last night. But playing basketball the way The Big Ticket plays it, and preparing for every season the way he does, is a mental and physical grind that affords Garnett no breaks. After 17 NBA seasons of giving himself zero time off and playing 117 MPH on every possession, even in practice, Garnett must want to spark a fire in his fireplace, take off his shoes, kick up his feet and read a nice book while drinking hot chocolate with plenty of whipped cream.
I don’t want to keep bringing this up — partially because it’s an incredibly long shot, partially because it makes me sad to think about — but it would be incredible if the Big Three won a second championship and then walked into the sunset holding each other’s hands.