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NBA AM: Garnett Enjoys (Final?) Boston Homecoming

Kevin Garnett appreciated the support from Celtics fans Monday, in what could be his final game in Boston.

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Garnett Enjoys (Final?) Boston Homecoming

Kevin Garnett sat on the bench, focused and zoned in on the game until just the right moment.

With the TD Garden crowd chanting, “We want KG,” throughout the night, the former Boston Celtic remained on the sideline to follow his schedule of not playing in back-to-backs for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The chants grew louder quarter by quarter. Garnett had changed the direction of the Celtics, helped bring a championship to the city and breathed a fire of defensive intensity into the organization. He had been gone for two seasons now, traded to the Brooklyn Nets in the summer of 2013, but his contributions are timeless.

Unrelenting, the fans changed to, “Thank you KG,” as the fourth quarter progressed. Garnett stayed focused on the court.

As the Celtics maintained a double-digit lead over the Timberwolves, buzz brewed over whether there would be “Gino Time,” and if so, would Garnett make an appearance?

As the game neared an end, it happened.

“That was classic,” Garnett said. “That was like a cherry on top for me. My teammates were looking at me like, ‘What is this?’ and I said, ‘I’ll explain later.’ Thank you, I appreciate that.”

Video of KG addressing #Celtics crowd during Gino Time. #NBA

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The celebration of “Gino Time” goes back to the Celtics’ “New Big Three Era,” the years of championship winning and contention with Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. During those seasons, the Celtics played clips from “American Bandstand” set to the Bee Gee’s classic “We Should Be Dancing.” In the video, a man wearing a shirt for the singer Gino Vannelli dances on the screen. Garnett quickly made him his favorite, pointing to the Jumbotron and busting out his own dance moves when the man appeared.

“Gino Time” was reserved for blowout wins, and the Celtics had plenty of those during Garnett’s time in Boston. Garnett became synonymous with the moment. His joy for the game spilled on to the court as he basked in the impending win, often dressed in warmups with a sweat-soaked towel tucked into his shirt. He would dance alongside teammates, he would dance by himself; this was his time.

On Monday, the video flashed on the screen as the Celtics took a commanding lead over the Timberwolves with time running down. This was Garnett’s queue. He rose from his seat and addressed the crowd, pointing from corner to corner of the arena to make each fan feel as though he was acknowledging them. All the while, “Gino Time” filled the Garden.

“Boston has always been a special place in my heart,” Garnett said. “It probably always will. Tonight wasn’t the outcome I wanted it to be, but it was a great homecoming and felt really good to be in the building.”

This season, he is averaging 3.1 points and 4.8 rebounds in a scaled back role that focuses more on being a veteran presence for young talent such as Karl-Anthony Towns than a key contributor.

Garnett would not comment on whether this would be his last trip to Boston as an NBA player. He has one year remaining on his contract and turns 40 years old next May. After 21 years in the league, he has nothing left to prove, only a love for the game to continue fulfilling.

“I like to say that Minnesota made me a young man; I grew up when I came to Boston,” Garnett said. “I learned a lot coming from the Minnesota situation and I applied it in my Boston situation, so I’ve got all great memories here.”

“Gino Time” became Garnett’s special moment during his time in Boston. When he came back, he was happy to share it with those he spent six years with in the TD Garden.

“The unconditional appreciation is overwhelming,” he said. “Thank you.”

 

Jessica Camerato is a bilingual reporter who has been covering the NBA since 2006. She has also covered MLB, NHL and MLS. A graduate of Quinnipiac University, Jessica is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association and the Association for Women in Sports Media.

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