“I’m driven by the hate,” Kevin Garnett says. “The more you hate on me, the more you talk @#$%, the more you say I can’t do something, the more that gets me going. I’m more motivated off the hate than anything.”
Garnett spent his entire basketball career silencing doubters, from those who thought a 6’11’’ skinny kid out of high school couldn’t survive in the NBA to those who dismissed him as a great player who’d never win a championship.
The new Showtime documentary Kevin Garnett: Anything Is Possible (Friday, Nov. 12, at 8pm ET/PT) is a deep dive into the mind and heart of the Hall of Famer, who tells his story with the help of former teammates, coaches, media personalities and others who knew him from way back as a phenom for Chicago’s Farragut Academy.
Isiah Thomas recalls meeting Garnett, just out of high school, and telling him that his game was good enough for the NBA right now. “One day you’re going to be a pro, and it might be next week,” Thomas says. Garnett declared for the 1995 draft, and was picked at No. 5 overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves. He was the first player in 20 years to be selected right out of high school, and Kobe Bryant and LeBron James would do the same in years to follow. “That’s a product of Kevin Garnett, all the greats who came out of high school,” says former teammate Paul Pierce. “Opened up the floodgates.”
Garnett became a star with the T-Wolves, and his six-year, $123 million contract extension in 1997 made him the highest paid athlete in pro sports history. It was also a catalyst for labor tensions in the NBA, and a reason his team couldn’t surround Garnett with a star talent. Frustration mounted with years of early playoff exits.
In 2007, Garnett was traded to the Boston Celtics. “KG transformed us,” says Danny Ainge, the Celtics exec who pulled off the deal. “KG was that missing piece and that energy that just gave everybody in the franchise, everybody in the city, this hope that they hadn’t had in a long time.” By winning the 2008 NBA championship, Garnett was finally able to defeat what he called the “bully” that had been tormenting him.