Boston Celtics legend Kevin Garnett reveals in a GQ interview that he was close to joining the Los Angeles Lakers instead of the Celtics.
Late last year, Sports Illustrated NBA reporter Michael Pina traveled to Minnesota to spend 48 hours gathering Kevin Garnett’s incredible story for GQ Magazine.
Garnett, who spent 21 seasons in the NBA, began his NBA career with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1995. Garnett went on to play for three different teams, including the Boston Celtics, where he won a championship in 2008 — but that very nearly was not the case.
During his interview with Pina, Garnett detailed how he was interested in signing with the Lakers, but he needed to have a conversation with Kobe Bryant.
“I needed to have a conversation with him,” Garnett said. “I’m not a phone guy, you know what I’m saying? But it’s [Kobe], you know what I’m saying?”
Bryant was unavailable to talk at the time, as he was touring for China with Nike, and the two never connected. Later that summer, Garnett spoke with former Celtic Antoine Walker at Gary Payton’s vow renewal, and Walker convinced Garnett that he could win in Boston.
Garnett won a title with the Celtics the following season, the only championship season he had in his illustrious NBA career. But if Garnett had connected with Bryant that summer, NBA history would have been drastically altered.
Kevin Garrett nearly signed with the Lakers instead of the Celtics
Garnett played with the Celtics until 2013, when he went to the Brooklyn Nets and then, finally, came full circle back to the Timberwolves. Garnett retired in 2016, several months after Bryant retired.
But what if Garnett had played for the Lakers? Funnily enough, the Lakers and Celtics are tied for the franchise with the most NBA titles, as both teams have 17 titles apiece.
The difference is, the Lakers won five titles during Garnett’s career. While Garnett won with the Celtics in 2008, the Lakers won in 2009 and 2010 — a streak that could have continued had Garnett been a part of it.
It will never be known what could have been, but the fascinating insight into a legend’s mind reveals that such monumental decisions are often decided with the right conversation.
And if Kobe had that conversation with Garnett instead of Walker, L.A. would have likely beaten Boston for the most titles in NBA history.