There’s something about having a favorite player in any sport that makes you tune in even more than you already do. The investment you put in is beyond the comprehension of someone who doesn’t watch sports, and it’s really only appreciated by a fan who is as hardcore as you are about the game. For instance, in the case of Ed, no one can tell him anything about Russell Westbrook (and that’s not even his favorite player; merely one of his favorites). However, Ed feels a personal connection to the way Westbrook approaches the game, plays the game, wears his emotions on his sleeve, and the last thing Ed will do is not go to bat for him. When Westbrook needs to be reined in, simply from the writer standpoint, Ed can do that as well, but it’s always with the best intentions in mind. You never have to doubt the man’s sincerity.
When it comes to Kevin Garnett, that’s how I feel. The man is, literally, my favorite player in all of basketball today, and there really isn’t a close second. As much admiration as I have for the games of current players such as Dirk Nowitzki, LeBron James, Zach Randolph, Deron Williams and several others, none of those guys bring the mixture of admiration, appreciation and adulation that KG has brought since he stepped in the league in 1995. Outside of Allen Iverson, there’s not another player who has helped shape the way I view today’s game (well, there’s Michael Jordan, but I don’t count him, because he is God).
With that said, watching KG play the past several seasons has been a challenge. We know fans, as well-meaning as we are, tend to have revisionist history. Some people began to look at KG through a lens that troubled me. It seemed to stem more from what they were reading and being influenced by as opposed to what they, themselves, were actually witnessing. Sure, there were signs of wear and tear and even I mentioned that during the ETSF days, but it wasn’t rooted in some of the sacrilege that people were saying.
To watch Kevin Garnett play basketball is to see someone who is more passionate about playing the game than anyone I’ve ever seen do any kind of job, labor, skill or trade. Seriously, and this is only me talking: There may be other people who are better at what they do, in their respective industries, but there is no one I’ve seen who is more passionate about what they do, in their industry, as Kevin Garnett is when it comes to professional basketball. He’s also one of the most intelligent players the league has ever known. To watch him on offense and, especially on defense, is a sight to see. He knows when to be patient and when to be aggressive. Not too many players have that trait. That’s what basketball IQ is all about.