Upon joining the Boston Celtics in the summer of 2007, Kevin Garnett immediately linked up to the franchise’s legends for advice. Bill Russell is perhaps the most important Celtics figure he developed a relationship with. And in a face-to-face interview, Russell did the unthinkable: he offered Garnett one of his 11 rings under one condition.
An act of generosity
Russell shared his fearless forecast of Garnett’s career. According to the basketball icon, KG would win multiple rings. However, Russell knew the difficulties of snagging a title. And so if luck didn’t come by KG’s side, Russell said he’d give one to him, under one condition.
“I think you’ll win at least 2 or 3 championships. If you don’t, but I see you playing the way you should, I’ll share one of my rings. This is a real friendship thing I’m talking about. If you play the way you play and you commit to it, they will come. You have no idea how proud I am of you,” Russell said.
Everyone was caught off guard by Russell’s offer. Even KG, who’s usually exploding with emotions, tried to hide his real sentiments. The proposal seems a bit awkward. It was as if Russell was giving KG a free ring just for playing his heart out. Also, receiving a ring — even from the winningest player of all time — isn’t the same as earning your own.
But this seems beside the point. It was a true act of generosity on Russell’s part. Giving a ring is a way for Russell to say that KG is one of the greats.
I got mine
As we all know, Russell didn’t have to take out his rings from his vault and hand it to KG. Garnett won a ring by himself.
“I got mine. I got mine. I got mine. I hope we made you proud,” Garnett said to Russell.
What made everything sweeter was that KG guided the Celtics to a title at the expense of the Los Angeles Lakers — their archrivals. He didn’t win just for himself, he also did one for the franchise’s history.
It’s unfortunate that Russell’s forecast — where he predicted KG would win multiple rings — did not come to fruition. The Dwight Howard-led Orlando Magic quickly rose to the top. Kobe’s Lakers, too, got their revenge. And when LeBron James flocked to Miami, a new dynasty was born, which pretty much cut the Celtics’ hopes of representing the East in the NBA Finals.
Whatever the case may be, KG is a champion. And the road to his first and only NBA championship is special — maybe even one of the best narratives in basketball history.