In athletics, greatness cannot be ignored or denied, as the numbers game allows statisticians and analytics to approximate one’s performance and account for their cumulative production. You wanna see who had the most points? Look at the numbers. You want to know who had the most losses? The opposite column will tell all. The maxim that “men lie, women lie, numbers don’t,” is one that’s proven to be true, time and time again…however, numbers can be skewed and often don’t illustrate the whole story or put things in their proper context. That’s where visually recorded events and first-hand accounts of impactful and pivotal moments come into play, as a particular memory can hold more real estate within the mind than numbers on a spreadsheet.
And with all of the points, rebounds, blocks, and other stats NBA legend Kevin Garnett compiled throughout his career, his legacy was built on the back of singular moments that helped shape how we look at the NBA, Hip-Hop culture, academics, and empowerment in athletics as a whole. Many of these moments are documented in the new documentary, Kevin Garnett: Anything Is Possible, which airs tonight at 8 PM ET/PT on SHOWTIME and will be available across the network’s on-demand and streaming platforms. The documentary covers the Hall of Famer and NBA 75th Anniversary Team member’s journey from his humble beginnings in South Carolina to becoming a generational talent and one of the most impactful figures in sports over the past half-century.
Produced and directed by Daniel B. Levin and Eric W. Newman, the doc begins with Garnett, who helped executive produce the documentary, speaking on his upbringing in Mauldin, South Carolina, where his relationship with basketball began as a secret due to being a Jehovah’s Witness. Yet, the wiry big man’s pastime was put on front street after gaining the attention of coaches and scouts due to his immense talent and transformative skillset. Despite the highs experienced throughout Garnett’s lifetime, they have been balanced with multiple lowlights, including his arrest on a second-degree lynching charge following a racially-charged brawl at Mauldin High School.
The incident, which occurred during his junior year of high school, spurred his arrival in Chicago, where he attended Farragut Academy for a wildly successful senior season that ended with him being named Illinois’ Mr. Basketball, the National High School Player of the Year by USA Today, and the MVP of the McDonald’s All-American game. While his on-court exploits are highlighted, it’s his relationship with Farragut head coach William “Wolf” Nelson, assistant coach Ron Eskridge, and Farragut teammate and fellow All-American Ronnie Fields, all of whom appear in the project, that are closely examined and helped mold Garnett into the player and man he is today.
“Yeah, man, Ronnie Fields is a brother for life with me, man,” Garnett told VIBE via Zoom while discussing the high-flying guard, who suffered a career-altering injury that derailed his pro aspirations. “He’s always been the same since day one, we’re connected at the hip. He was the one that showed me the ins and outs of the city and gave me the lit, so to speak, on how to get through everyday in Chicago. He and [Coach] Wolf are definitely my brothers for life. Fields was one of them ones that I just hate that the world didn’t really get to see his talent on a bigger level, on a bigger scale. But that’s my brother for life and [it] will probably always be like that. Shouts to Ronnie Fields, man. Real dude.”
Garnett’s decision to jump directly from the preps-to-the-pros after a 20-year drought in high schoolers straight to NBA and its impact is also analyzed, as his success helped open the door for future greats like Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Jermaine O’Neal, Amare Stoudemire, LeBron James and others to follow in his footsteps. Drafted fifth overall in the 1995 NBA Draft to the Minnesota Timberwolves, KG essentially birthed the advent of the young, Black teenage millionaire ball-player, which ruffled quite a few feathers, as is documented in the film. Garnett’s utilization of his talent in pursuit of the American dream may have been celebrated within Hip-Hop culture, but conjured racially-biased undertones condemning the infiltration that was attributed to Garnett’s groundbreaking decision. Kevin Garnett: Anything Is Possible does a stellar job of connecting the dots between the massive $126 million contract extension Garnett signed in 1998, the NBA lockout, and the constant power struggle and chasm between athletes in professional sports and the owners who cut the checks.
The 1998 NBA Lockout and subsequent max contracts are only one aspect of Garnett’s legacy as a game-changer that’s touched upon in the doc, as his impact on helping bridge the gap between the NBA and Hip-Hop is also discussed at length. Rap music’s infiltration of the sport, and the attitude born out of it, was put on full display through the youthful expression of figures like himself, Allen Iverson, Minnesota Timberwolves teammate Stephon Marbury, and others during the latter half of the ’90s, much to the chagrin of pundits, team owners and league officials alike. This would lead to an eventual dress code to be implemented by former NBA commissioner David Stern to be implemented in 2005, 10 years after Garnett’s entrance in the league. Garnett touched on his role in being a trailblazer for Hip-Hop culture in the NBA and what that experience was like following in the footsteps of the more conservative stars of the ’80s and early ’90s.
“Well, being honest, it was very uncomfortable, man,” Garnett tells VIBE. “David Stern was trying to get us into the China market and get us into international markets and he felt like the only way to do that was through the ways in which yesteryear was. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and Michael Jordan, they were all part of this whole agenda and pushing this whole international thing and we was kind’ve the wave of the next wave. You had dress codes, you had a bunch of different things that didn’t fit with our culture and I think at some point, the league started to view it as a partnership. And after so much competitive back and forth, I think you started to see the emergence of Hip-Hop in not just basketball, but in products or in capitalism. And you started to see the music start to play a part in not just the influence, but how you saw it and from what lens you were looking at it from. This is what’s in our ear as we played so this is our kind’ve bop, if you will. A.I. was kind’ve the centerpiece of the culture and how we dressed and where we came from and then being proud of that.”
Garnett also shared his thoughts on how the NBA’s relationship with Hip-Hop has evolved with time, commending current NBA commissioner Adam Silver with allowing players across the league to express themselves as individuals, on and off of the court: “I think Adam Silver has taken those yesteryears and let the reins go for creativity. A ‘be yourself’ kind’ve mentality is in the league now. I think the league is probably as relaxed as I’ve seen it since I’ve been watching it from a young kid. These kids today have a lot today that they can actually lean on, they have their own personal brands. You don’t have to be a superstar to have a brand, you can be a regular Joe. It’s really gave some real diversity throughout the whole thing of it, not just from a superstar’s perspective, but a players perspective. There’s only 400+ that’s in it and I feel like they get heightened and they have a platform that’s bigger than ever. You don’t just hear about the superstars, you hear about all players in this so the facts of how you start off versus how you finish, it started off pretty rough, but now to see where Hip-Hop is and what it’s done for not just sports, but with football and basketball and other sports, but just how it’s just embarked on companies and promotions and commercialism. Like, I’m watching it, everybody’s biting off Hip-Hop. Everybody’s dressing the same, everybody’s sounding the same. It’s beautiful to see and it’s great to know that we were a part of that wave in which we’re living in today.”
Somber moments like Garnett’s visit to the George Floyd memorial in Minneapolis, and the tragic death of his teammate and close friend Malik Sealey help humanize Garnett. While his influence on the way NBA big men play today give the documentary an all-encompassing feel, covering the various facets of who “The Big Ticket” is and all that he represents. The string of early playoff exits and lean years in Minnesota, both of which put a strain of Garnett’s relationship with late Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, helped channel the rage burning within. KG walks viewers through the events that culminated in the blockbuster trade that sent him to Boston and completed the “Big 3” of himself, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen.
Waxing poetic about the virtues of Ubuntu, a philosophy implemented by former Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett: Anything Is Possible displays how Ubuntu became the rallying cry that the rest of the 2007-2008 Boston Celtics lived, driving them all the way to an NBA championship, the first of Garnett’s career.
The Celtics’ Game 6 win over the Los Angeles Lakers serves as the crescendo of the documentary, as it birthed the definitive quote that Garnett will forever be known for, and serves as a reminder to us all that even though the journey has its peaks and valleys, if we keep our head in the game, anything is indeed possible.