While it’s difficult to imagine a player who played just a fraction of his storied career in Boston having such an impact, there’s no denying Garnett’s place among Celtic greats.
What’s more, he elevated the Celtics to heights he couldn’t quite manage while with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
He helped secure Boston’s only championship of the last 35 seasons.
Garnett Cemented His Hall Of Fame Status In Boston
And it was his time in Boston that truly sealed the deal for his enshrinement.
a perfect fit ☘️ pic.twitter.com/5Od6nAB2Ta
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) May 15, 2021
Garnett’s arrival heralded a new era in Boston that landed the franchise’s 17 championship, tied for most in league history with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The statistical peak of Garnett’s career came during his 12-year run with the Timberwolves.
During that time, he became one of the youngest All-Stars in NBA history, led the league in rebounding four times, and earned the league MVP in 2004.
Garnett carried Minnesota to the franchise’s lone Western Conference Finals berth that year.
He remained loyal to the Timberwolves despite the club’s mismanagement of his prime.
But when Garnett landed in Boston in 2007, the 31-year-old helped turn around the team’s fortunes.
The Celtics went from a league-worst 24-58 record to a 66-16 season and their only NBA title since 1986.
Garnett won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award that season, and finished third in MVP voting.
What’s more, Garnett guided the Celtics to the 2008 title against Boston’s top rival, the Lakers.
While in Boston, Garnett earned five All-Star berths, four All-Defensive First Team berths, and one All-NBA First Team berth.
His second season with the Celtics might have seen the club repeat as champions, considering their 27-2 start.
But Garnett’s injured knee short-circuited those title hopes.
Boston made deep playoff runs twice more with Garnett, including winning another Eastern Conference Championship before a Game 7 loss in the NBA Finals to the Lakers.
Garnett didn’t finish his career in Boston, but he identifies most as a Celtic.
Boston announced Garnett’s No. 5 jersey will hang in the rafters, joining 20 other Celtics legends.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) August 20, 2021
Garnett’s Lasting Legacy
Garnett wasn’t the first high school player drafted by an NBA franchise, but he reopened that door in 1995.
From 1995 to 2005, NBA teams selected 39 high school players in the draft.
Garnett’s dynamic play paved the way for playmaking big men on the perimeter.
In 1998, Garnett signed the then-biggest contract in NBA history, six years, $126 million.
But after years mired in losing, Garnett eventually agreed to trade to Boston, but not before the Celtics maneuvered to acquire Ray Allen from the Seattle SuperSonics.
Pairing Garnett with Allen and Paul Pierce started the modern run of “Big 3s” in the NBA.
James had to summit the Celtics before reaching the NBA’s mountaintop.
Garnett remains the only NBA player to reach the 25,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 5,000 assists, 1,500 steals, and 1,500 blocks career plateaus.
Even in leaving the Celtics via trade in 2013, Garnett helped Boston.