Kevin Garnett wants nothing to do with the Timberwolves retiring his number. Presumably, he’d be far more open to receiving the honor from the Celtics.
But will Boston actually retire his number?
Paul Pierce, who just had his number retired by the Celtics, sounds certain.
Pierce, via Chris Forsberg of ESPN:
“Without a doubt, KG’s number will be [the next one] retired in Boston,” said Pierce. “It’s going to happen.”
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said the team has had informal discussions about retiring Garnett’s number, but that a final decision would come from ownership.
Maybe Pierce knows something. He obviously has access to Celtics management. But maybe he’s just projecting wishful thinking for a friend and former teammate.
Garnett played just six seasons in Boston. Of the 21 players the Celtics have honored in the rafters, none have played fewer seasons for the team:
Ed Macauley and Reggie Lewis also played six seasons for Boston then had their number retired. Lewis’ number retirement was more about his untimely death than his on-court accomplishments, not really relevant here. Macauley and Bob Cousy were the Celtics’ first retired numbers (on the same day in 1963). Boston’s unprecedented success since puts Macauley into a context unavailable at the time.
Garnett had an excellent run with the Celtics. He put them over-the-top for the 2008 title, breaking their longest championship drought. He remained an All-Star four of the next five years. Maybe he even gets extra credit for waiving his no-trade clause, allowing Boston to trade him to the Nets for a ridiculous haul and potentially setting up its next window of title contention.
But Garnett approved that trade because he thought Brooklyn was better than the Celtics, not because he wanted to set up his soon-to-be-former team for future success. And he didn’t make another All-NBA team in Boston after his first season there. He just wasn’t quite the elite player he was in Minnesota, though he was close enough for the monumental highs of the 2008 season.
For most teams, retiring Garnett’s number would be a no-brainer. Considering the Celtics’ storied history, it’s a tougher call.
Ultimately, I believe Pierce will be right, though – in part because of the implicit pressure he’s applying.