The NBA is filled with wildly competitive players, which makes sense. These star athletes are being paid millions of dollars to go out and win their respective teams' games. With so much on the line, these players are obviously going to go out and give it their all. That's something that Kevin Garnett personified throughout his legendary career.
Garnett nearly got into a fight with Pippen during a pickup game with Jordan
Garnett asserted himself as an imposing two-way force at the center position early in his career with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and once he found his footing in the league, he never let go. Garnett always gave his best effort on the court, and he wasn't shy when it came to trash-talking his opponent in an attempt to get in their head.
Maybe Garnett's most humorous story about his competitive spirit came before he was even in the NBA and involved him nearly getting into a fight with Scottie Pippen. Garnett recently revealed that he found his way into a pickup game with Pippen and Michael Jordan during Jordan's hiatus from basketball, and his antics with Pippen ended up ruining the entire game.
"Jordan put me right on Scottie. And Scottie was like, 'Man, why'd y'all put this young puppy a** n**** on me? Man, let me get it.'... He shot this long a** three, so much that I looked at that motherf***er, bam, and I'm like, 'he hit that?' And I looked at him, he almost had the face of some like 'easy work, man,' and when I saw his face, it was just a natural reaction. I call for it. MJ threw that motherf***er, and I took two dribbles, gave him a little move, and I let my s*** go. Man, my s*** hit, dawg. I thought I had won the championship. Look, I was so gassed, and I jumped and said, 'I don't know what you think this is n****,' and he was like, 'What n****, what?' And he shot me the ball, I shot him back, we pushed up, and I said, "I'll have these n****s kill you in here." - Kevin Garnett, Knuckleheads Podcast
Garnett and Pippen ended up shutting down the entire pickup game
Garnett's competitive fire certainly shows here, and it's interesting to see he was able to make such a point against Pippen despite being a high schooler at the time. However, Garnett never backed down from anyone, and it nearly led to an altercation between himself and Pippen in this game. Garnett would discuss the aftermath of the incident and how he gained Jordan's respect for not backing down from Pippen.
"Carr Harris jumped up and was like 'No young fella, you can't do that in here, no young fella.' Carr Harris got it under control. But that was it, game over. MJ was like 'Young fella, I love you young fella, yeah yeah!' But he got the f*** outta there. I looked up, and I had f***ed the whole run up. We was just wildin'." - Kevin Garnett, Knuckleheads Podcast
Garnett's competitive fire would carry over into the NBA, where he had run-ins with his opponents every night. But things would have been different if he had not stood up to Pippen during this pickup game in high school. Garnett made a big impact on two of his childhood heroes in Jordan and Pippen here, and it likely helped shape the player he became when he reached the league.