In a 2013 courtside incident left a little kid wrongly educated. Garnett was unhappy with a call in the Nets’ blowout loss to the Bulls and made it known, as he is wont to do. This boy probably learned some new words.
During his playing career, Kevin Garnett was known across the NBA as one of the game’s most notorious trash talkers. He had an uncanny ability to get into his opponent’s head, but that trash-talking prowess had its limits.
Kevin Garnett’s rookie mistake
Separate podcast and radio interviews with J.R. Rider and Garnett from All-Star weekend made rounds on social media this week. Both players described the same Jordan trash-talking story with stunning consistency (so it’s probably true). Basically, Rider was going into the fourth quarter against the Bulls having already scored 24 points on Jordan. A young Garnett wanted to get under Jordan’s skin and said that MJ couldn’t guard Rider.
Garnett was accustomed to the league a little bit, felt like he belonged and was flying high at the time. He brought 70 people to the game, didn’t get much sleep and was still running on high energy. The game started good for the Wolves, and KG’s teammate J.R. Rider was having a good game. They were leaving a time out when the mistake started.
“As we come out of the time out, I’m on. I was just like ‘Keep killing that ni***.‘ You’re having a good game, keep going.”
As they were walking back to the court, Garnett realized Jordan was right by them and could hear everything. At this point, KG has two options. Stop talking, pretend like he thinks Jordan didn’t hear him and continue playing. That would be the smart move. Guess what rookie KG did.
“I don’t really give a f***. So I double down, like, ‘Yeah, keep killing that ni***, keep killing that motherfu****.’“
He turned, and MJ was there, staring right at him for 15 seconds straight. That was the second chance KG had to back out of it, but he had a lot of people in the arena and talked some more. Then he saw J.R. Rider talking to Mike, trying to calm him down, explaining KG is a young rook who doesn’t know what he’s doing. It didn’t really help.
JR Rider & Kevin Garnett talk about the time a young KG made the mistake of talking trash in front of MJ 😅 pic.twitter.com/VfL57upGhB
— Jumpman History (@HistoryJumpman) February 20, 2020
Tables turn for Garnett
“I can’t even really describe the next 6-7 mins of play. We got two, not one, two 10 second calls. We down 25 now, it was just at 2. Mike had 18, he had like 40 now. JR/myself, we ain’t scored in like 4 mins. It got bad quick yo!” (On the bench catching his breath): “JR, my bad dog, I’m sorry”, Garret said.
Garnett described Rider trying to apologize to Jordan ahead of time, saying that Garnett was young and didn’t know any better. Jordan didn’t care.
A two-point game ballooned to a 25-point Bulls lead with Jordan shutting down Rider, and a gassed Garnett apologized to Rider for the mishap. Rider told Garnett to keep his mouth shut next time.
“Never talked sh** again to Mike in my life. When I saw him at the All-Star Game, I apologized.”,
Garnett learned an important lesson that night.
Kevin Garnett trash talks to Tim Duncan
Tim Duncan was famous for his stoic on-court demeanour. But the Spurs legend didn’t always let his game do the talking.
On a recent episode of the All The Smoke podcast, hosts Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson asked Kevin Garnett about his trash-talking strategy.
The former Boston Celtics star had a gift for getting in opponents’ heads. Over the course of his 21-year NBA career, Garnett’s success stories included the time he ‘crushed’ Joakim Noah with three words and kept Chris Bosh up all night before a playoff game. When Barnes wondered if there was anyone who talked back, then backed it up,
“Believe it or not, y’all, Tim Duncan,” Garnett answered. “Shout to Timmy. People would not see him verbally saying stuff because he wouldn’t talk in sentences. Timmy would hit you in phrases.”
Garnett noted that Duncan would use subtle jabs — “Got you.” “Ooh.” “Almost.” “Nice try.” — instead of any hard-core language.
“What really, really, really pissed me off was when the trash talk wasn’t affecting him. Now you’re spending all this energy trying to rile him up and you forgot about your own game,” he recalled.
Garnett eventually quit talking trash to Duncan because San Antonio’s five-time champion wouldn’t react. And in the meantime, Duncan would be busy racking up points, assists and rebounds.
“Next thing you know, Timmy got 20, 20 and 15,” Garnett recalls, “So then I started changing that.”