By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Boston Celtics will raise another number to the TD Garden rafters, as the team announced that Kevin Garnett’s No. 5 will be retired by the team during the 2020-21 season.
The next logical choice to look down on the Garden parquet following Paul Pierce’s number retirement back in Feb. 2018, the decision to take Garnett’s number out of circulation next season will actually fill up the Celtics’ third banner of retired numbers and names, and left them with 23 numbers retired, and 24 people in total honored on their three banners.
And there’s no denying Garnett’s worthiness for banner immortality when it comes to his Boston run.
Acquired by the Celtics in 2007, Garnett emerged as that rare but true franchise-changing addition for the C’s.
Completing Danny Ainge’s (initial) quest for a new Big Three in Boston, Garnett instantly became the fiery co-leader of a squad already featuring Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, and led the 2007-08 Celtics to a league-best 66-16 record. Garnett was straight-up dominant that season, too, as the towering big with unmatched intensity averaged his lowest point-per-game totals in a decade, but shot a career-best 53.9 percent and also nabbed NBA Defensive Player of the Year honors.
That thunderous introduction to Boston also culminated with a six-game NBA Finals win over the Los Angeles Lakers, of course, and with an emotional Garnett etching his name into the sports quote lore with his “anything is possible” scream.
It was just the start of a six-season run in Celtic Green that came with three All-NBA Defensive First Team honors (2008, 2009, and 2011), an All-NBA Defensive Second Team honor in 2012, five All-Star appearances, and a second trip to the NBA Finals in 2010. Had Garnett been healthy in 2009, you’re likely talking about the C’s going to three straight Finals.
Garnett will head to the rafters with the seventh-most defensive rebounds (2,786), eighth-most blocks (394), ninth-best field goal percentage (52.0 percent), and fifth-best player efficiency rating (21.1) in franchise history.
If you’re looking for bonus value here when it comes to Garnett’s impact on the Celtics, too, don’t forget that Garnett was a key part of the trade package sent to Brooklyn in exchange for three unprotected first-round picks, which backfired on the Nets in the craziest of ways and allowed the Celtics to draft Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum (via pick trading).
And in what feels like a relatively surprising note, this decision to retire Garnett’s number next season actually sees the C’s beat the Minnesota Timberwolves — the team Garnett put on the map with a 14-year run on two different tenures in his storied NBA career — to the punch when it comes to immortalizing Garnett with a number retirement ceremony.