The Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2020 includes former Celtics big man Kevin Garnett headlining a group that also includes Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan.
Enshrinement is scheduled to take place on Aug. 29 in Springfield.
The Celtics previously announced that they will send Garnett’s No. 5 to the rafters at TD Garden in a jersey retirement ceremony sometime in the 2020-21 season.
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We all know what Garnett did on the court. But while we wait for these future Garnett celebrations, here’s a look back at some of our favorite memories of what made Garnett so different when he wasn’t on the floor:
MAKING "GINO TIME" HIS TIME
Inside the Celtics’ executive offices near TD Garden, there’s a wall-covering mural of Garnett pointing skyward as his beloved “Gino Time” video plays on the JumboTron near the end of a lopsided win.
The Gino tradition — a homemade mix of American Bandstand clips played as the Bee Gee’s “You Should Be Dancing” blares — predates Garnett’s arrival, but he most certainly made it his own during his time here. Garnett would anchor himself near the end of Boston’s bench and watch the clip, pointing at the screen whenever “Gino” — a particularly groovy bearded male dancer in a Gino Vannelli T-shirt — appeared and the Garden would roar in approval.
The Celtics didn’t win enough in the decade before Garnett’s arrival for the clip to catch on with anyone but diehards. But in Garnett’s first season, Boston went 35-6 at the Garden with an average margin of victory of 15.9 points per game. That meant ample opportunity for Gino to dance and Garnett quickly embraced reveling in the moment.
Garnett loved nothing more than introducing a new teammate to the tradition.
He gleefully pried Shaquille O’Neal and Rasheed Wallace off the bench and made them try to mimic the moves in the clip. He’d drag rookie-year Jared Sullinger over to make sure the kid understood why this moment mattered so much.
Garnett changed the entire culture around the Celtics. But most importantly, he took a team that had lost a franchise-record 18 straight games the year before his arrival and made celebrating big wins his trademark.
Even as Gino Time lives on today, it remains synonymous with Garnett.
FOOD ANALOGIES AND CONFRONTING BULLIES
As mesmerizing as Garnett was on the court, with his never-relenting intensity, his postgame interviews were the real treat for those of us covering the team. They were can’t miss moments as evidenced by the amount of time reporters spent looking at the clock inside the Celtics’ locker room after games.
See, Garnett spent a considerable amount of time on the trainer’s table after games. Sometimes it would be nearly 90 minutes post buzzer before a dapper, scarf-clad Garnett emerged with PR guru Jeff Twiss alongside and took his position to answer questions.
Those that scrambled off to make deadline often missed the best part of the night.
Garnett loved random food analogies. Like the time he compared playing for Doc Rivers to a birthday cake.
"Playing for Doc is like coming home to a birthday cake, you know?” said Garnett. "Every day it's something you don't know — it's going to be sprinkles, you know it's going to be sweet. You know it's going to be beautiful but what you don't know is sometimes [the cakes] might use too much salt in the recipe and you bite into the cake and get a salty taste. But you have to remember that every day is a birthday cake in here waiting on you. So, if you can figure that riddle out, that's what it's like to play for Doc Rivers.”
Chemistry, too, was like baking a cake and you couldn’t microwave it in a tortilla.
Garnett didn’t always go with food analogies. There were bar fights (so many bar fights). Shaquille O’Neal was like playing with fresh laundry. Low assist totals were as rare as green squirrels. And winning a title was like getting revenge on a bully.
"You ever go to school and you had that bully mess with you every day? I know [reporters], ain't no tough guy here," said Garnett. "It's like that bully that you go to school every day and you know when you get out of your mom's or dad's car, you know you're going to see him as soon as you walk through the doors, he's sitting there waiting to pat your pockets and mess with you. Then one day you say, 'This is going to stop today.'
"You walk in and, as soon as he pats your pocket, you lay his ass out and you see the expression on his face, and you're sort of kind of shook because, you know what, you just knocked the bully out and you don't know how he's going to come back. The next morning when you come in and he's not there, it's like a sigh of relief. It's like getting rid of the bully. It's like, I knocked the bully's ass out. I knocked his ass clean out. That's what it feels like. For y'all who ain't been bullied, y'all ain't got no idea what I'm talking about. But for y'all who have, you understand the story.”
THE MOST MEMORABLE BUS RIDE: KG AND THE CHEESECAKE
In mid-March 2012, the Celtics were on a West Coast road trip that featured consecutive stops in San Francisco and Sacramento. Due to the proximity of the two cities, the team decided to simply bus up through the Bay Area.
Typically, the team and beat reporters travel separately but, on this day, the team graciously offered to squire writers to Sacramento on one of the two team busses. The trade deadline was later than usual that year and coach Doc Rivers could do media before everyone boarded, which would make the day easier for all involved.
Sure enough, a handful of us interviewed Rivers outside the team hotel, and then we were encouraged to board the first bus that was scheduled to shuttle the coaching staff. Coaches typically sat up front so reporters headed for the back of the bus. Celtics PR honcho Jeff Twiss boarded soon after and encouraged reporters to move forward a bit in case any players elected to catch the early bus, though stressed this was unlikely.
Just before the doors closed on that first bus, on jumped one player: Garnett, who gave a curious eye to the reporters on board before plopping himself at the very back of the bus.
Yes, even on a bus, Garnett has a certain sort of intensity.
Needless to say, most of us just stared quietly towards the front of the bus on the trek. But the busses pulled off at one point for the team to pick up a lunch order from In N’ Out Burger.
When the bus stopped, a couple of us younger reporters kind of looked at each other. What do we do? A quick peek to the back of the bus caught Garnett glaring back. Glances were quickly diverted. But not before a couple of us spotted Garnett devouring what appeared to be a full-sized red velvet cheesecake.
Burgers and cheesecake. Maybe it’s no surprise that the next night in Sacramento, a Celtics team with championship aspirations lost by 25 to a Kings team that had been 15 games under .500.