Right now ranks as my favourite time of the year – NBA playoffs. We’re just days away from the finals and wow hasn’t it been an exciting series.
I will lay it all out on the line. Head says the Oklahoma City Thunder will hold aloft the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. The heart however wishes the Boston Celtics will be victorious. Why you ask despite me being a Los Angeles Lakers fan. It is all because of one player.
Those of you who follow the great sport of basketball know this champion player as “The Big Ticket” or “KG.” If you side with Minnesota your nickname for him would be “The Franchise” although he doesn’t suit up for the T-Wolves.
The intense, long, slender big man was selected fifth overall in the 1995 NBA Draft after a successful high school career. In his senior year, KG was named National High School Player of the Year and Mr. Basketball for the State of Illinois. He boosted his stocks when awarded as the Most Outstanding Player at the highly visible and influential McDonald’s All-American Game. Garnett would also be honoured as one of the 35 Greatest McDonald’s All Americans.
The Big Ticket has more than validated his high selection and in hindsight, he has been the finest pick of the bunch. A list that includes the first overall selection Joe Smith, Antonio McDyess, Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace, Damon Stoudamire, Brent Barry, Theo Ratliff and Michael Finley. Need convincing? KG was the season MVP in 2004, Defensive Player of the Year in 2008, a four-time All-NBA 1st Team, a three time All-NBA 2nd Team, a dual All-NBA 3rd Team, an All-Rookie 2nd Team, a nine time All-Defensive 1st Team and a two-time All-Defensive 2nd Team to go along with his All-Star MVP award in 2003.
The one thing missing from the mantelpiece is an NBA finals MVP award.
Garnett is the ultimate team player. A powerful presence in the paint but a much more dominant player when shooting from mid-range – an ultimate professional who plays the game extremely hard. Watch the Boston-Miami playoffs series and you will understand the words I use and gain even more appreciation for him.
One of the hardest victories for a team to achieve is an away win in the NBA playoffs. That is what Boston managed to do just days ago and Garnett’s involvement had never been as important. The Celtics today host LeBron James, D-Wade and the Heat in game six – because of KG’s 26 points and 11 rebounds. USA Today produced a telling statistic. In Garnett’s 189 minutes on the floor, Boston has outscored Miami 364-341. In Garnett’s 61 minutes on the bench, Miami has outscored Boston 139-114.
Garnett is playing in the form akin to when he arrived in Boston back in 2007-2008. He will need to produce yet another strong effort, but there is no doubt of that happening.
As I wrote at the start, I the Oklahoma City Thunder will be crowned as champions but the heart will be cheering for KG.