Dear Kevin Garnett,
I didn’t know what to think when I heard the news on Friday. You know, the news that you would be retiring from the NBA after 21 seasons.
I was sad and disappointed that one of my favorite players would be hanging them up. I still don’t understand why you have to go away, but, at the same time, I’m happy.
I’m happy I got a chance to watch you play in your prime. I’m happy I got to watch you take Minnesota to a Western Conference Finals, but I was even happier when I watched you win your first (and only) world championship ring with the Boston Celtics in 2007-08.
I still remember where I was when the final buzzer sounded on game seven — the guest bedroom at my Grandpa’s house. You’d been broken down, played most of the series injured and kept playing anyway.
I wanted to play like you. I wanted to be passionate like you. I wanted to be a leader like you.
Nobody believed you could be successful when you became the first player in 20 years to jump straight from high school to the NBA. Instead of failing, you sparked a trend that gave us 18-year-olds Kobe Bryant and LeBron James (plus many more).
You proved a tall, skinny kid from South Carolina can be the most dominant force in the NBA. You showed us the importance of the rim run, the turnaround jumper and the blocked shot. You did all that while playing with more hustle and tenacity than anyone else in your generation.
I was only nine when you won your Most Valuable Player award, but I knew then that I wanted to model my game after you. I shot turnaround jumpers until I was dizzy. I ran the middle of the floor — always looking for that opportunity for a slam dunk.
I tried to play with your passion. I could never beat my chest like you, but I got made fun of for the way I’d yell after an and-one or big play. I tried to wear my emotions on my sleeve — just like you.
I don’t know how I can thank you for being my role model. I know anything I say, one, you’ll never read, and, two, wouldn’t be enough to hammer the point through anyway.
Thank you for showing us you don’t have to go to a blue-blood college to be a star. Thank you for showing us what it means to play 100 percent every single night. Thank you for showing us what it means to be a model teammate and leader.
Thank you for showing us ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!!!!
Thank you, Big Ticket.
We’ll miss you.