One of the more intense, vocal and intimidating players in NBA history, Kevin Garnett brought a championship to Boston and is a beloved figure there. One of the first teenagers to skip college and enter the NBA, Garnett was a prodigious talent. He is also an Olympic gold medalist and will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Kevin Garnett was one of the most dominant players the game of basketball has ever seen. He was also one of its most outspoken. Over the course of his illustrious twenty-one-year NBA career, he elevated trash talk to an art form and never shied away from sharing his thoughts on controversial subjects. In KG A to Z, published ahead of Garnett’s induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame, he looks back on his life and career with the same raw candor.
Garnett describes the adversity he faced growing up in South Carolina before ultimately relocating to Chicago, where he became one of the top prospects in the nation. He details his headline-making decision to skip college and become the first player in two decades to enter the draft directly from high school, starting a trend that would be followed by future superstars like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. He shares stories of playing with and against Bryant, James, Michael Jordan, and other NBA greats, and he chronicles his professional ups and downs, including winning a championship with the Boston Celtics. He also speaks his mind on a range of topics beyond basketball, such as fame, family, racism, spirituality, and music.
Garnett’s draft decision wasn’t the only way he’d forever change the game. His ability to play on the perimeter as a big man foreshadowed the winning strategy now universally adopted by the league. He applies this same innovative spirit here, organizing the contents alphabetically as an encyclopedia. If you thought Kevin Garnett was exciting, inspiring, and unfiltered on the court, just wait until you read what he has to say in these pages.
|Publisher:||Simon & Schuster|
|Product dimensions:||6.40(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
David Ritz is a songwriter who has collaborated with stars like Janet Jackson and Marvin Gaye, as well as a renowned ghostwriter who has authored more than fifty books for some of the biggest stars in music: Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Ray Charles, Lenny Kravitz, Joe Perry, Smokey Robinson, Don Rickles, and Willie Nelson, to name a few. His articles have appeared in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Essence, People, Art Connoisseur, and elsewhere. He lives in Los Angeles with Roberta, his wife of nearly fifty years.
Read an Excerpt
“Anything Is Possible!”
It was 2008, and after thirteen seasons, I had finally won the muthafuckin’ finals and helped bring the Celtics their first championship in more than twenty years.
When the horn went off and the game was over, time froze. My mind froze. I had halfway been expecting a buzzer-beater; but it was a blowout. We beat down the Lakers by thirty-nine points. Confetti was coming down as I was going up. I’d never been that high or felt so hyped.
I was in the bliss: people grabbing at me, hugging, kissing, crying. I looked over at my wife, saw my kids, my family, my friends, my fans, and then, like a movie, my brain went on rewind, replaying scenes, rushing at me at once: hooping in Billy’s driveway when I barely knew how to shoot; waking up the neighborhood at five in the Carolina morning cause I couldn’t stop working on my dribbling; a country kid, then a teenager trying to download those badass Chicago streets; wins, losses, bumps, bruises, a million memories, a million hours on the grind, hacking, scraping, clawing to get where I needed to go; and there I was at last. Reporter Michele Tafoya holding up a mic in front of my face. The Boston crowd wildin’ out. She gotta shout for me to hear.
“League MVP. Defensive Player of the Year. Now it’s time to add NBA champion to your résumé. How does that sound?”
I put my hand to the fresh-out-the-box championship hat on my head.
“Man, I’m so hyped right now.”
I take a second to gather myself.
Another rush of images flashing in front of me: sitting at Ruth’s Chris Steak House during a family dinner; watching D-Wade playing Chauncey in the Eastern finals; my struggles in Greenville, AAU tournaments, endless games in endless parks in endless neighborhoods, going, growing, never stopping, learning, burning with an energy that gets more intense year by year, wanting this thing, wanting it for all my twelve years in Minneapolis, wanting it for the T-Wolves fans, wanting it for the Celtics fans, wanting this ultimate win, this championship that I’ve desired more than anything—more than money or fame or sex. And now the reality clicks in my brain, runs down my spine, enters my soul, and I’m taking off my hat and tilting my head straight back and screaming like a madman.
“Anything is possible!”
A few moments later, I add, “Top of the world! Top of the world! I’m certified! I’m certified!”
I’m yelling so loud that my voice can be heard beyond those sixteen—soon to be seventeen—championship banners hanging from the rafters all the way up to heaven. Yellin’ up there to Malik Sealy and Eldrick Leamon and everyone I loved and lost. Everyone who got me to this moment.
In the middle of the mad scramble I see Kobean. I call him “Kobean” or “Bean” cause his dad is Jellybean. Bean knows what I was going through. I’d been chasing him, been chasing Shaq, been chasing Timmy, been chasing all the legacies, and now the moment is mine.
“Congratulations, man,” says Bean. “Enjoy this, cause there ain’t gonna be too many more. I’ll see yo bitch ass next year.”
I have to get in my blows, have to say, “We activated now. This ain’t that Minnesota shit.”
“Say hi to Vanessa and the kids,” I say. “Love you, my brotha.”
“Love you too, dawg.”
Then I give him one of those gorilla hugs around the neck and ask, “Bean, y’all out tonight?”
“Hell, yes,” said Kob, “we getting the fuck outta this bitch.”
It’s beautiful because I know how pissed he is—Bean hates losing more than anyone—but I also know that he has to be a little happy for his OG.
Like me, Bean believes in the unstoppable human spirit. It’s that spirit that makes anything possible. Those words come from my heart, from my guts, from the life I’ve lived. Those words apply to right now, this very second, because here I am, a dude who has ADD and ADHD, and as a result doesn’t read a lot of books, sitting down to write my own book. Ain’t that a trip?
Attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. I got ’em both. I also have dyslexia, meaning I see shit backwards. I see things in vision. For a long time, I was believing that I was mentally disabled, until a great friend of mine—shout-out to Torey Austin—said, “Hey, man, maybe that means you have superpowers.” Torey’s words arrived right on time. Before that, I was dealing with feelings of heavy inferiority, cause my teachers were on me for not reading right. The formal diagnosis happened later in life when I was already an adult. As a country kid in South Carolina, I didn’t have access to sophisticated professionals who could figure out what was wrong. I struggled with words on the page.
Yet here I am, writing words on a page.
That’s one of the reasons I decided to structure the book this way, like an encyclopedia, with little bite-sized entries. Because of my reading problems and my limited attention span, I’m not the kind of dude who’s gonna kick back on the couch with a book for an hour or two. I’m gonna pick up a book, read a page or two, and then bounce. So I wanna write the kind of book that I’d wanna read. I want to change it up, do it differently. I’ve never been much of a rule follower. I didn’t follow the rules when I skipped college and went straight to the draft. Didn’t follow the rules when I negotiated what was at the time the biggest contract in professional sports. Didn’t follow the rules when I’d bring up the ball or play on the wing rather than plant myself down low like every other big man. So I sure as hell ain’t gonna follow the rules here. I’m writing a book that, like hoop, is filled with suspense, surprises, high drama, and big fun.
There are a bunch of words and names and phrases that start with the letter “A” that have been important in my life and come before “Anything Is Possible!” Like “AAU” or “Alpha” or “AI.” Trust me, we’ll get into all that eventually. But I have to start with “Anything Is Possible!” because that’s the most important. That’s what everything you’re gonna read about adds up to. Here’s one more: “Agenda.” Let me say it straight-up: my agenda is to show you how negatives can turn into positives and how positives can change your life for the better. And the only way I’m gonna be able to do that is if I’m fully honest about those negatives. About the mistakes I’ve made. About the hardship I’ve experienced. About the pain. I know being honest isn’t always comfortable. This is the first time I’ve ever said anything about my learning disabilities. I never even told Kobean, and he was dyslexic too. And if I’m really being honest, then I also have to say that right now I’m wondering if this is such a good idea. I’m starting to feel doubt creep in.
Doubt will trip you up, turn you back, have you quit. The only thing holding us back from charting new territory is doubt. Gotta understand that doubt. Just can’t delete it by wishing it away. Gotta work with it. We all do. We gotta talk to the muthafucka. Gotta say, “I see you, Mr. Doubt. I hear you, Mr. Doubt. I know you wanna keep me from doing what I was meant to do. But I also know that, while you’re part of me, I do not intend to allow you to become all of me. Because I got no choice, I’m gonna tolerate you. And because I know it’s a smart move, I’m gonna try and understand you. The more I understand you, Mr. Doubt, the less you’re gonna have to say. So I’m gonna get you out of the driver’s seat and put your ass in the back of this car. I know you’re gonna try and backseat drive. I know you’re gonna tell me I’m moving in the wrong direction, that I’ll never reach my destination. So please keep it down back there. Even though that chatter might go on forever, I’m now the one with my hands on the wheel. I’m doing the driving. And I’m taking myself to where I need to go.”
These words I write represent a triumph over doubt. Going at a challenge is the only way I know of meeting that challenge—and beating that challenge. I’m opening up about Kevin Garnett, the man, the player, the person—and what it took to build that human being. Growing up, it was difficult to find love. Maybe that difficulty is part of the reason why a beast emerged. That beast got all over me. Sometimes it looked like the beast would self-destruct. But I thank Jehovah God that at an early age I saw that intensity could be put to purpose. Had to be put to purpose. Had to be used as a tool. Had to be deployed strategically. Intelligently. The beast is an energy that requires refinement and focus. And energy is what rocks the world. Energy is what rocks this book.
Warning: my energy is different. Hard to contain. Impossible to suppress. My energy doesn’t move in predictable patterns. I’m all over the place, and it ain’t just ADHD. It’s something greater than that. Something deeper. Holier. Call it my essence. My spirit. I have a zigzagging spirit. That’s how I’ve lived my whole life. And so this book is gonna zigzag too. That’s another reason for this nonlinear approach. It’s not only the way I live my life, but it is the way I remember and reflect on my life. I don’t see a single straight narrative from start to finish. I see flashes, bursts, eruptions, explosions. Just like that night we won the title, when all those memories flooded through my mind. If my story is a ball, the ball is always moving. I’m dribbling, I’m passing, I’m head-faking, I’m lobbing, I’m dunking. One moment I’m thinking about shit that happened ten years ago, the next I’m thinking about what happened ten seconds ago. Yet for all the jumping ahead and laying back in the cut, if you read closely, you’ll see that the dots connect.
So let’s go on a trip where we break down doubt and bust through obstacles. Let’s go where they’re telling us we can’t go. Let’s do what they’re telling us we can’t do. Let’s explode our creativity.