Unlike other boomers of his generation, the way Kevin Garnett speaks about the modern game shows how secure he is with his legacy.
Garnett was a unicorn when he first burst onto the NBA scene. As a 7-footer out of high school, the expectations from the Big Ticket were very different from today’s youngsters. Garnett was drafted in an era when it was a cardinal sin for power forwards to shoot 3-pointers.
If you contrast that with today’s game, it truly is night and day. Every team is now adding a big man/tweener who can shoot from range. Players like Danilo Gallinari, whose style is more like a small forward, are regularly playing as small-ball centers. The offensive style of the NBA has changed drastically.
In an interview with New York Times, Garnett talked at length about the evolution of the NBA. Having been a part of this circus for nearly 26 years now, KG knows more about the game than most people.
What Kevin Garnett said about guards from his generation
Garnett laid bare a few of the obvious differences in the style of play between the 90s and early 2000s till today:
“The game is at another level. I know you said that you made the team with Vancouver, but I want you to get on a court, sprint corner to corner, stop on a dime and shoot a 3. I want you to do 10 of those. Then I want you to focus on how tired you are. Because these players do that for 48 minutes.”
“I don’t think guys from 20 years ago could play in this game. Twenty years ago, guys used their hands to control players. Now you can’t use your hands. That makes defense damn near impossible. Can you imagine not hand-checking Michael Jordan? Naw. The fact that you can’t touch players gives the offensive player so much flexibility. Defensive players have to take angles away and stuff like that.”
“But if you have any creativity and ambition, you can be a great offensive player in this league. The fadeaways, one-leg runners, the one-leg balance shots — that’s stuff that Dirk Nowitzki brought to our game. And now when I watch Joker play, it feels like he has taken that Dirkness and mixed it with his own talent.”
“And Steph Curry revolutionized things with being able to shoot it from distance with such consistency. Klay Thompson. Dame Lillard. These guards changed the game. I don’t know if even the guards from 20 or 30 years ago could play in this time right here.”
You rarely hear legends from the 90s like Kevin Garnett give props to the current generation in this manner.