An interesting and unorthodox memoir from one of Boston’s Big Three
A unique, unfiltered memoir from the NBA champion and fifteen-time all-star ahead of his induction into the Hall of Fame.
Kevin Garnett was one of the most dominant players the game of basketball has ever seen. He was also one of its most outspoken. Over the course of his illustrious twenty-one-year NBA career, he elevated trash talk to an art form and never shied away from sharing his thoughts on controversial subjects. In KG A to Z, published ahead of Garnett’s induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame, he looks back on his life and career with the same raw candor.
Garnett describes the adversity he faced growing up in South Carolina before ultimately relocating to Chicago, where he became one of the top prospects in the nation. He details his headline-making decision to skip college and become the first player in two decades to enter the draft directly from high school, starting a trend that would be followed by future superstars like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. He shares stories of playing with and against Bryant, James, Michael Jordan, and other NBA greats, and he chronicles his professional ups and downs, including winning a championship with the Boston Celtics. He also speaks his mind on a range of topics beyond basketball, such as fame, family, racism, spirituality, and music.
Garnett’s draft decision wasn’t the only way he’d forever change the game. His ability to play on the perimeter as a big man foreshadowed the winning strategy now universally adopted by the league. He applies this same innovative spirit here, organizing the contents alphabetically as an encyclopedia. If you thought Kevin Garnett was exciting, inspiring, and unfiltered on the court, just wait until you read what he has to say in these pages.
Kevin Garnett — long-time Minnesota Timberwolves star, member of the Boston Celtics championship-winning Big Three. KG is one of my in-laws’ favourite players. As I’ve mentioned (probably too frequently, now), I grew up loving the game of basketball, but completely cut off from access to the NBA. So, after reading Michael Holley’s The Big Three, I was keen to learn more about the eponymous trio. Garnett’s memoir, which I ‘read’ as an audiobook, offers an interesting, well-told, and engaging insight into one of the NBA’s great players.
I won’t go into too much detail about the book. If you’re familiar with KG’s career and reputation, you’ll discover many ways that he was misinterpreted, and also those times when he’s happy to claim his reputation. The memoir is presented in quite an interesting structure/format: it really is an A to Z. Some entries are quick, often amusing. Others are more in-depth, discursive and illuminating. It took a little while for me to settle into it, because it seemed as though many of the earlier entries were particularly short. It works, though, and I fell into the flow of the book relatively quickly. It didn’t end up feeling as fractured as I expected.
It’s clear which players and people in his life has meant to the most to him — in terms of mentorship, friendship, competition, and so forth. It’s moving to read about the people who have passed away too early, and the ways in which he grappled with these losses so early. He writes warmly of his time in Minnesota (while still admitting he hates the cold): his teammates, his coaches, his life, his friendships with the local musicians (including one with a penchant for the colour purple). He tells us about his upbringing, and it’s amazing how much he experienced before he was drafted by the NBA, right out of high school.
The audiobook edition is very-well produced, and Guy Lockard’s performance was excellent and clear throughout. (KG’s intro is also very good.) If you’re a fan of KG’s already, then this is a must-read. If you’re merely curious about the NBA and what it means to be a professional basketball player, then I also think you’ll find a lot to like in here. I really enjoyed this.