Kevin Garnett might have bled green sooner if he could do it all over again.
The NBA legend told The Athletic’s Shams Charania on Tuesday if he could change anything about his professional journey, he would have left the Minnesota Timberwolves earlier in his career. Garnett believes Minnesota wasn’t as committed to winning as he was and he might have pushed to leave earlier in his career had he understood it sooner.
Garnett ultimately joined the Boston Celtics in July 2007 in a blockbuster trade, with his arrival turning Boston into perennial NBA Finals contenders between 2008 and his 2013 departure from the team.
“If I could actually go back and change anything, I would?ve left Minnesota a little earlier, knowing that the management wasn?t as committed as I was,” Garnett said. “Or wasn?t committed at all. I probably would’ve went to Boston or changed the situation earlier. I would?ve been a little younger and that means less wear and tear on the body. Teaming up with Paul (Pierce), I should?ve done that earlier. Who knows — I?m probably sitting here with another ring or two. But, yeah.”
However, Garnett doesn’t lament the 12 years he spent with the Timberwolves. Far from it, in fact, he credits the time he spent in Minnesota for helping him become the finished article by the time he left at age 30.
“My days in Minnesota were great days, bro,” he continued. “It was a huge part of my progression. (Head coaches) Flip Saunders and Kevin McHale were huge parts of my progression as a player. I had to put the work in and put it all together, but having those influences around me, having Kevin McHale as a great teacher all those years and pushing me and giving me the lay of the land … and me having a crazy a– appetite and imagination of what I want to be in the league … I’m very grateful for those days. Those are the days that actually made me to the man that I became and took to Boston.
“Those days in Minnesota were basically like R&D (research and development). I?ll never forget them.”
The atmosphere Garnett found upon arriving in Boston left a lasting impression on him.
“Super appreciative of them, Garnett said. “(President of basketball operations) Danny Ainge, the ownership there, Wyc (Grousbeck) and Pags (Steve Pagliuca), (former head coach) Doc Rivers. Celtic nation, man. Anybody who understands the Celtics culture, it?s a nurturing culture, it?s a real fraternity, and it supports each other. To be part of it is something special. I?m glad I?m part of it, and I?m glad I was able to experience the better way of the NBA and seeing how winning franchises really do things. That left a huge, huge impression on me that I?ll take to my grave. I?ll be forever appreciative to the city of Boston, the ownership and everything Celtic nation. I?m honored.”
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inducted Garnett into its ranks as part of its Class of 2020, putting a crowning achievement atop his glittering career. Garnett told ESPN on Saturday that joining the Celtics and winning that NBA championship made him a Hall of Famer, so his Boston move seems like a case of something happening in the right place at the right time for the right reasons.