Kevin Garnett is the latest player to retire from basketball and enter the coaching profession. While no one could have predicted that a trip to the free-throw line would result in this event, it did not take long for Paul Pierce’s teammates to be asking him about KG joining his staff when he retires at season’s end.
Paul Pierce’s journey to the NBA started when he was a high school junior. He joined a team that had Kevin Garnett as its captain and it was not long before they became friends. Eventually, Pierce would ask for Garnett to be his teammate on the Boston Celtics in 2008.
Paul Pierce says his greatest regret about Kevin Garnett becoming a Boston Celtics star is that it didn’t happen sooner. Garnett will be inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 2020. Pierce recently reflected on his championship days in Green, remembering how he campaigned for Garnett’s arrival in Boston years before it occurred. Pierce made his request to Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck during a game. They became teammates and champs two years later.
‘I knew something,’ Paul Pierce says of bringing Kevin Garnett to Boston.
On May 3, 2013, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, Boston Celtics’ Paul Pierce, left, and Kevin Garnett exchange words in the waning seconds of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs. | Getty Images/Jim Rogash
Early in his career, Pierce had a string of bad luck with the Celtics. He was drafted 10th overall in 1998, but it took him until his fourth year in the NBA to reach the playoffs. He made his first of ten All-Star selections that season, leading the franchise to its first winning season since 1992-93.
Pierce helped the Celtics get back on track, but the team reached rock bottom after two consecutive winning seasons. Boston won 24 games in the 2006-07 season, ranking last in the Eastern Conference. That’s when they realized they needed to act.
In the summer of 2007, Boston completed a deal for Garnett, giving the Minnesota Timberwolves five players, two draft selections, and cash. They also added veteran Ray Allen, making the finest combination in Boston since Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish suited up in the 1980s.
The changes paid off right away, as the Celtics jumped from last place in the Eastern Conference to first place, winning 66 games. They also defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals in 2008.
Pierce recently confessed on the Cedric Maxwell Podcast that he actively advocated for Garnett to go to Boston two years before to his arrival.
Pierce informed Maxwell, “I knew something.”
During a free-throw attempt, Paul Pierce pushed for Kevin Garnett.
“ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!” exclaims the narrator.
After leading the Celtics to their first championship in 22 years, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen delivered this memorable interview 13 years ago. pic.twitter.com/gx6qpc5bCe
June 17, 2021 — ESPN (@espn)
Pierce mentioned a game in Boston with Garnett and the Timberwolves during his meeting with Maxwell. Pierce yelled out to Grousbeck, who was sitting underneath the hoop, while Garnett was at the free-throw line.
“I’m boxing out at the free-throw line, and Wyc is right here in the front row,” Pierce recalled. “Kevin is standing at the free-throw line, and I’m thinking, “Can we get him?” “We’re going to win the title.” I gave him a dead-on stare.
“We get KG a couple of years later, and we deliver.”
Pierce stated that Garnett and Allen’s inclusion made them a “superteam,” but it wasn’t like today’s superteams, when players aggressively recruit others.
“Now they make their own movements,” he said. “We acquired KG, and yes, we had a superteam, but we had to achieve it through trades.” To accomplish that, we needed some selections. It wasn’t like I was saying, “Hey, let’s play together,” or anything like that.
“That’s why this one is more remarkable since I waited until I was around ten years old to do it.” I’ve been out of the playoffs for ten years — a handful of first rounds, second rounds, and one Eastern Conference Finals.”
Pierce said that the Celtics put their egos aside in order to win a championship.
Pierce, Garnett, and Allen quickly became friends. According to Pierce, the three put their egos aside and did everything it needed to win the title.
He said, “Kevin was our inside man, and Ray was our shot.” “Because I was a man who could do a little bit of everything, it worked out so nicely.”
“Every day, we spoke and put our egos aside. Look, we’ve all been in the same boat, we said. We’ve all been All-Stars in the past. You’ve been an MVP, KG. You’ve got a lot of All-Stars on your team. Ray is a shooting champion and an All-Star, but we’ve never won anything.
“Ray, you’ve been the guy in Seattle and Milwaukee.” Kevin, you’ve been the guy in Minnesota. I’ve been in Boston for a while. Nothing has ever gone our way. So we came together and said, “It’s all about winning a championship now.” There are no egos here. Let’s move them to the side for now. To win, we have to do what we have to do.”
That’s exactly what they did in their first year together. In the 2008 NBA Finals, they beat the Lakers in six games. Two years later, Boston made it back to the Finals, but lost in seven games to the Lakers.
RELATED: Kevin Garnett Discusses His NBA Career’s What-Ifs, Including Playing With Kobe Bryant
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Kevin Garnett was a rookie in the 1995-96 season. A trip to the free-throw line had Paul Pierce pushing for him to be his teammate 2 years before it happened. Reference: kevin garnett rookie year.
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