KG's All-Star Career Concludes on Sunday
HOUSTON – All-Star weekend is underway in Houston and Kevin Garnett is officially involved in the weekend for the first time in two years. Fans voted Garnett in as the starting center for the Eastern Conference in this year’s game, which Garnett announced on Wednesday will "definitely" be his last.
Garnett, who won’t begin his All-Star duties until Friday, was not voted into the 2012 All-Star game that was played in Orlando, Fla. That means it has been two full years since he was in Los Angeles to play as a reserve for the East in the 2011 game.
This is the 15th time in Garnett’s career that he has been voted into the All-Star game either by fans or coaches. Sunday will feature his 11th career start in the game. That doesn’t include the 2008 All-Star game that he was voted into as a starter but was forced to miss due to an abdominal strain.
Being voted in as a starter clearly isn’t a new thing for KG, but the position in which he’ll play on Sunday is very unique.
Each of Garnett’s 14 previous All-Star games have featured him as a power forward. This year, however, he’ll be the starting center for the Eastern Conference.
Garnett has been playing center for the Celtics ever since the team returned from the All-Star break last season. He has been excelling in that role and heads into Sunday’s game averaging 15.1 points per game and 7.7 rebounds per game this season while continuing to be a menace on defense.
Fans are very unlikely to see Garnett approach those types of numbers on Sunday. KG has had only a few high-powered performances during All-Star games throughout his lengthy career. The table below outlines Garnett's career All-Star numbers.
Garnett’s All-Star career peaked in 2003 when he won the game’s MVP award after leading the West to a 155-145 win in double overtime by scoring 37 points, grabbing nine rebounds and totaling five steals. He hasn’t scored more than 12 points in the game since that memorable performance.
Fans should also take note of the steady decline in his All-Star minutes since his arrival in Boston. Prior to this season, Garnett had been voted into four All-Star games during his tenure with the C’s and he participated in three of them. His minutes decreased from nearly 19 in 2009 to less than eight in 2011.
We’re likely to see very limited minutes out of Garnett again on Sunday. After all, he is now 36 years old and he has been logging some serious minutes over the past couple of weeks. KG averaged 31.4 minutes per game over Boston's final five games heading into the break. That average includes 76 minutes that Garnett played in a span of just 24 hours thanks to Sunday’s triple-overtime win over the Nuggets followed by a game the very next night in Charlotte. Having Garnett play extended minutes in that back-to-back was something the Celtics wanted to avoid.
“I really was mad at myself because I had written down right after the Denver game that make him stay in Boston – don’t even let him go to Charlotte,” Doc Rivers said after Wednesday’s win over the Bulls, which featured 26 minutes of play from Garnett. “I kind of let everyone talk me into it, and I didn’t think he should’ve even played in that game. I thought that three-overtime game, plus that (Charlotte) game, flying back, getting in late… I just thought he didn’t have legs.”
We now know that Rivers played Garnett in all three of Boston's games this week and that’s likely to affect KG's playing time on Sunday. Fans will get exactly what they voted for, and that is to see Garnett on the floor at the start the 62nd NBA All-Star game. After that opening tip, however, the Big Ticket's storied All-Star career may be minutes away from ending.