Kevin Garnett became the youngest NBA player in history to hit the 1,000-game mark on Friday night.
The Boston Celtics got the win, 96-80, Friday night and the Chicago Bulls got plenty of things to think about on their flight home. But with the game essentially decided before the halftime buzzer sounded because of the Bulls' universally sloppy play, there was time to reflect on the rare record set during a rout.
All it took was as simple an act as being on the court during tip off -- not to mention a bounce-back (from Tuesday's 5-for-15 game) 18-point and 10-rebound performance. Kevin Garnett, 32 years and 165 days young, became the youngest player ever to reach 1,000 games, ending the reign of Shawn Kemp as the record holder. Kemp had held the record since 2002, when he passed Reggie Theus at the age of 33 and 24 days.
While it is certainly a great accomplishment, the record, it seems, reminded Garnett of his own hoops mortality.
"Feels crazy, to be honest," Garnett said after the game. "Some players come in here, Paul [Pierce] and I along with other teammates, and sit on the back of the bus and talk about Nike camps, people we grew up with, playing against and playing with, and how unfortunately they're not in the league. So to sit here and have a plateau of over one thousand games says a lot...about my conditioning."
Since being drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the No. 5 pick in 1995, Garnett's immense talent, and lasting durability has given him a never-ending stream of minutes. And with the league enacting an age-minimum of 19 years before the 2006-07 season, there remains only a decade's worth of players to enter the league out of high school who could challenge Garnett. Rivers, though, expects a couple of those to take the record soon enough.
"I'm assuming Kobe [Bryant] will break that record, and LeBron [James] will break that record, but it's nice to have," Doc Rivers said.
Paul Pierce reflected on Garnett's time in Boston, saying that he's seen plenty of veteran players take more than their fair share of practices off, and that it's a stretch for the NBA's 2004 MVP to sit out even one.
"I'm wondering when he's gonna slow down," Pierce said.
"Please don't ask that," Garnett interrupted.
Even though he just set the record for being the youngest to do something, maybe this record had the inverse effect of making Garnett feel old.
"I'm just enjoying this team, enjoying this year, and enjoying everyday that I can get up and play this game full strength," he said.