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SAN FRANCISCO – Kevin Garnett signed a three-year, $36 million contract in the offseason, but admits there was a time when he wondered whether he wanted to continue playing this deep into his career. Now 36 and in his 18th NBA season, Garnett has played in more than 1,400 games, regular season and playoffs combined. And he made clear in an interview with Yahoo! Sports that he won't stick around just to stick around if he feels he can't play at a high level.
Have you ever thought seriously about retiring?
K.G.: "Absolutely. Absolutely. There was a time where I felt like, 'Can I still be productive? Can I still bring something to the table?' I look at myself in the mirror from a real perspective. …I still can play and I still can bring something to a team."
Q: You don't appear to be the type of player that will continue playing if you can't at a high level. True?
K.G.: "Performance is something we all strive to be better at. I'm no different than that. Who wants to look bad? Who wants to come out here and look bad? I want to always bring something to the table. More importantly, I want to be able to enjoy the guys and the chemistry. When it starts to feel like work, I'm going to have to do something else."
Q: How many more seasons do you see yourself playing?
K.G.: "I don't know. I will make a decision every year. I want to make sure I am having fun. I want to make sure I am productive. I got a lot of responsibility on me right now. I'll figure it out. But right now I'm still enjoying myself for the most part."
Q: What is your responsibility?
K.G.: "I have a lot of responsibility at 36. I don't have the presence of having anything less than that. I have to guard the best post player. I have to strategize for defensive post and defensive strategies. I always constantly talk with other guys versus having a solidified role or a lesser role. I'm still in the thick of it."
Q: You said several years ago that once you retire you are going to disappear. What did you mean by that?
K.G.: "Go away. Not be around the game. Some players take some jobs involved in the league and do some things. I think I am going to take an alternate road. Who knows what the future holds? I'm going to disappear."
Q: Could you see yourself ever coaching in the NBA or being a television analyst?
K.G.: "Coaching takes patience. I'm more enthused when teaching players who want it versus when I have to. Commentary is an opinion. I don't think people take the initiative to learn the player that they are speaking on. Everybody has something to say.
"Everybody was 'great' when they played. Ha. That's not the case. Everybody has tough nights. You kind of hold athletes to a perfect standard at times. Sometimes when I hear commentating, it's sickening. People who never played the game, people who never played in the league have an opinion, and that's all it is. You are here to educate the watcher or the viewer. Sometimes it comes off as personal. I don't ever want to come off like that. My opinion is my opinion about someone.
"That's not to say I wouldn't commentate, but that's not my forte. I respect every player and every athlete who brings something to that team or they wouldn't have that option. When I separate from the game, it will be all the way out. If I say or speak or do whatever I have to do, it will be strictly from a personal [level]."
Q: So what else could you see yourself doing outside of basketball after retirement?
"To tell you the truth, who knows? My personal preference is for me, myself to enjoy and lay back."
Q: What type of legacy do you hope to leave?
K.G.: "My mark is just simple. A guy who was able to be versatile in the game, was able to do multiple things, was always a team guy and played his ass off. That's me. And whoever didn't know me, didn't know me. If they heard stories, that's what it was, a story. That's what I am.
"I never have been nothing else. I've never been an individual guy. I never cared about the accolades. I've always been driven by the competition and the learning process."
Q: What do you think of the state of the Celtics?
K.G.: "We are just trying to get it right and be more consistent in what we do. A lot of it is effort for us. We just got to get back. We'll get it."
Q: How do your knees and your body feel?
K.G.: "My body is good. I'm grinding. I'm OK. I'm here grinding just like everybody else. …Body-wise at this point it's a consistent thing every day. I'm no different than anybody else in the league."
Q: What physical maintenance do you have to go through daily?
K.G.: "The preparation has to be consistent. There are no days off. You have to get the body going. The game is still the same. I've always been a repetition type of person. From getting the body going to being consistent to what you are doing. The players are younger. It's the same game. But the players are younger, jumping higher and are more explosive. So you have to adjust to that.
"I watch a lot of film on myself still and try to be consistent with giving different defenses different looks. But at the end of the day. it's the same game. It's a bit faster. I just have to adjust to it and I'm adjusting to it pretty good. You got to get the '76 Mustang warmed up before you take it out on the road these days."
Q: You have a strong respect for the history of the game and your predecessors. Do you think today's younger players have the same?
K.G.: "I hope the young boys know that [respect] is earned. You just don't get respect in this league. You earn it."
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