Whirlwind 20 Hours Ends with Garnett's Selection as Hall of Fame Finalist
CHICAGO – Kevin Garnett earned two of the greatest honors in basketball in a span of just 20 hours.
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Friday afternoon that Garnett, a 2008 champion with the Boston Celtics and a 15-time All-Star, has been chosen as a finalist for the 2020 Hall of Fame class. It is a foregone conclusion that he will be enshrined into the Hall this September.
The Hall of Fame’s announcement came the day after the Celtics announced that they will retire Garnett’s No. 5 jersey next season.
Friday’s news was announced at the NBA’s All-Star weekend in Chicago. Garnett was on hand for the event, which took place inside of the Concert Club room at the United Center in front of a large group of basketball royalty and media members.
Garnett is one of eight finalists chosen for the 2020 Hall of Fame class, joining Kim Mulkey, Rudy Tomjanovic, Barbara Stevens, Eddie Sutton, Tim Duncan, Tamika Catchings and Kobe Bryant.
Shortly after his name was called, Garnett joined NBA TV’s Matt Winer on stage to speak about the emotions he was feeling at that time.
“The Hall of Fame is something you don’t really think about, you don’t really dream about,” he said. “It just happens. I’m more than honored for this. This is over my head. This is one of the more overwhelming situations I’ve ever been in.”
Later, after the ceremony had come to an end, Garnett stopped in the middle of a doorway at the bottom of a stairwell in the United Center to further comment on the honor to a small group of media members.
“Everything kinda stopped, if I’m being honest,” he said of the moment his name was called. “I was watching the Kobe (Bryant) video and it just kinda hit home to why we’re all here. G-Hill (Grant Hill) hit me with something when I came in, like, ‘It’s gonna feel real,’ or something, because it hasn’t. Today made it feel real.”
Garnett also commented further on Boston’s decision to retire his number during his impromptu press conference in the middle of the doorway.
“I told them I don’t need the Paul Pierce ceremony,” he said with a slight smile, referring to his teammate’s lengthy number retirement ceremony that took place in Feb. of 2018. “I wanna be in here and keep it real simple. But I am very appreciative of them actually at least recognizing.”
Garnett will become the 24th player in Celtics history to be honored by having his name or his number raised to the TD Garden rafters, never to be worn again.
Garnett, who attended high school in Chicago, has had one heck of a 20-hour stretch back in his old stomping grounds. There are few NBA players who have had their number retired by a historic franchise and become finalists for the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Garnett just earned both honors in less than a day.