“We have a saying in the league that you let some sleeping dogs lie, and I am a product of that,” Kevin Garnett said to Jimmy Kimmel during a recent interview. “I’ll use Michael Jordan as an example.”
One night, I’m young; I’m 19 years old, I’m in the league, I’m fresh, I graduated out of high school in Chicago. We come back; we play the Bulls. I was playing great, probably the best I’d ever played in my life at this point, and J.R. Rider is having an unbelievable game too. And I’m just feeling 19, I’m like, ‘Yeah, keep going. You killing him.’ And in the short form of it: I woke up a sleeping dog. And it wasn’t pleasant.Kevin Garnett, Jimmy Kimmel Live
The game Garnett referred to took place on February 27, 1996, when the Bulls blew out the Timberwolves 120-99, despite Minnesota trailing just 82-76 going in the fourth quarter. And a sleeping dog he woke up? “That big dog named Michael Jordan. And he bit. He bites, and he bit hard,” said the Hall of Famer. “I kind of got a warning shot, but I didn’t really take warning to the warning shot, and it just turned bad. It turned really bad, and it turned back quickly.”
Isiah Rider – a third-year guard at the time – even warned rookie Garnett not to poke the bear anymore. He was in the league long enough to know you don’t talk smack to No.23. But unfortunately for him and the rest of the T-Wolves, 19-year-old KG let his emotions get the best of him.
J.R. told me just to calm down. He’s like, ‘OK, yeah, I’m having a good game, but chill, you know, he right here, he can hear you.’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, so? Keep going.’ It was just kind of like rules, it was kind of like a respect, rules thing, an underlining rule thing that you were supposed to value. But like all young people, you know, I was young and I was going with the spirit and passion, and, yeah, it got me bit in the ass.Kevin Garnett, Jimmy Kimmel Live
KG finished the game with 20 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals, and Rider added 20 points of his own. Michael – who led Chicago’s huge run in the fourth – put up 35 points on 45.8% from the field, along with 6 rebounds and 7 assists, securing the Bulls’ 50th win of the season.
He also taught young Garnett a valuable lesson that Michael was the one sleeping dog he should always let lie. That one is burnt into KG’s brain, and if he ever forgets about it, MJ makes sure to remind him of it every time the two see each other. That’s a memory Jordan still hasn’t forgotten.
Whenever I see Jordan, he always does the same thing every time. He palms my head, and he said, ‘You remember I gave you 40 in three quarters?’ And I’m just like, ‘Man, go ahead.’ And then he has this sidekick of people around him, he’s like, ‘Hey, pull that up!’ And then a guy goes and pulls it up!Kevin Garnett, Jimmy Kimmel Live
You’ve read it right — Michael really walks around with guys who always have a tablet ready to help MJ smack talk Hall of Famers. Amazing.