Hoops Legend Kevin Garnett Says Today’s NBA Is at “Another Level”

Garnett isn't convinced players from 20 years ago could play in the modern Association

Hoops Legend Kevin Garnett Says Today’s NBA Is at "Another Level"
Former Celtics forward Kevin Garnett rips down a rebound in 2012.
Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

In a new interview with The New York Times he did ahead of the release of his book later this month, retired NBA legend Kevin Garnett said he isn’t convinced players from 20 or 30 years ago could play in the modern NBA.

Garnett, who averaged a double-double (17.8 points, 10 rebounds) for his career to go along with nearly four assists and more than a steal and block per game, was a big man who could shoot from the perimeter, but he rarely attempted 3-pointers during his 22 seasons in the league.

Were he playing today, Garnett would almost certainly be asked to shoot from downtown as a long-distance shot has become a requirement for most players, including big men.

“The game is at another level,” Garnett told The Times. “I want you to get on a court, sprint corner to corner, stop on a dime and shoot a 3. I want you to do 10 of those. Then I want you to focus on how tired you are. Because these players do that for 48 minutes. I don’t think guys from 20 years ago could play in this game. Twenty years ago, guys used their hands to control players. Now you can’t use your hands. That makes defense damn near impossible. Can you imagine not hand-checking Michael Jordan? Naw.”

Garnett went on to name some of the players he enjoyed and enjoys watching play the game.

“If you have any creativity and ambition, you can be a great offensive player in this league. The fadeaways, one-leg runners, the one-leg balance shots — that’s stuff that Dirk Nowitzki brought to our game,” Garnett says. “Now when I watch Joker [the nickname for Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic] play, it feels like he has taken that Dirkness and mixed it with his own talent. And Steph Curry revolutionized things with being able to shoot it from distance with such consistency. Klay Thompson. Dame Lillard. These guards changed the game. I don’t know if even the guards from 20 or 30 years ago could play in this time right here. It’s creative. It’s competitive. It’s saucy. You’ll get dropped! A [expletive] will cross you over and break your ACL these days. The game is in a great place.”

So could Garnett, who last played in the NBA during the 2015-16 season at the age of 39 and averaged fewer than four points and four rebounds per game, hack it in today’s NBA?

He didn’t say in the interview, but anything is possible, right?

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