Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Next Ten: Kevin Garnett

For the 96-97 season, the NBA named its list of the 50 Greatest Basketball Players. For 06-07, we at Pacifist Viking will be adding 10 players to the list. We are not the first to re-examine the list of the greatest players. But you know what? We're the best.

Kevin Garnett won an MVP in 2004, cementing his place in NBA history. He's been All-NBA first team four times, led the league in rebounding the last three seasons, and is a virtual lock for a double-double every game. He's been a 20-10 guy for the past eight seasons. He's of a new generation of power forwards, athletic and versatile.

The problem is, we don't know how good Garnett may be. He's been on a mostly awful franchise for his entire career, rarely playing with competent teammates. He's never had any post help on the Timberwolves to take pressure off him, and he's only had one serious chance at an NBA title. He is truly one of the 60 greatest players of all-time, but his career is in some ways known for disappointment, for losing, for what he has not been able to do.

Kevin Garnett is akin to John Keats. Keats was a poet of limitless potential, and the poetry he did produce has stood the test of time. He's known for the brilliant Romantic poetry he did produce--but there's also so much that he might have accomplished that he could not. He died at 25 of tuberculosis; he could not accomplish all that he hoped he would, and he knew it (see "When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be"). Kevin Garnett has been saddled with a tuberculosis of his own, a tuberculosis that goes by the name of Kevin McHale. This tuberculosis has cut short Garnett's brilliance, preventing him from becoming seriously considered in "the greatest ever" discussions. Like Keats, who might have gone on to be "the greatest ever" but is instead still a major poet, Garnett will be recognized as an all-time great but will never be considered the greatest. Oh what might have been.

Previous Players: Bob McAdoo, Dennis Rodman, Tim Duncan, Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant


  1. If Sam Cassell plays against the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, the Wolves win it all that year. Of course, no one remembers that the Wolves second best player didn't play in that series, just that KG wasn't able to get the Wolves past the Lakers

  2. Anonymous3:04 PM

    I wasn't really big on comparing the NBA greats to writers of the past, but this one is absolutely dead on. Plus, it lets everyone talk about Kevin "Embodiment of Tuberculosis" McHale. Awesome.