kevin garnett & bill walker

(Kevin Garnett grabs Bill Walker by the throat)

*Kevin Garnett’s latest altercation with Knicks player Bill Walker, who Garnett shoved by the neck at the end the season opening game (see video below), is more evidence that one of the game’s greatest players might be wrapping up his career on a sour note.

It’s easy to underestimate the astonishing impact that Garnett has had on the modern game of basketball, mostly because he still seems like the same skinny, oversized kid the Timberwolves drafted straight out of high school in 1995 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sQn4A8sCvM). If you look at that video clip (below), it doesn’t look that he’s aged a day – but in fact, he’s a 15-year veteran, a 14-time All-Star, former Defensive Player of the Year, former MVP and former World Champion. In his prime, he was one of the most fearsome players to ever take the court, a fearsome rebounder and lock-down defender with one of the smoothest jumpers a big man has ever possessed.

He was one of the biggest stars in the NBA, but he should have been bigger – being marooned in the NBA’s Siberia known as the Minnesota Timberwolves didn’t help. It took a trade to the Celtics, a partnership with the new “Big Three” and a ring to really show the public just how brilliant KG was.

For all his accolades, though, the Walker incident, combined with the messy Charlie Villanueva “cancer” comment from a year ago (http://sports.espn.go.com/boston/nba/news/story?id=5759196) threatens to paint KG as one of the game’s villains. It would be a shame if that perception lingered as Garnett’s career winds down; one of the league’s superstars deserves much better.