It's already been explained, far better than I ever could, why we don't like Kevin Garnett anymore. This restrained, sobering and affecting feature, which explores how the death of former Minnesota Timberwolves teammate Malik Sealy affected Garnett, reminds us of the raw, open, emotional young man with whom many of us first fell in love.
In the piece — first broadcast on ABC during halftime of the Boston Celtics' Game 4 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday — Garnett reflects on the close relationship he developed with Sealy, an idol of Garnett's from his collegiate days at St. John's University, after Sealy joined the Wolves as a free agent prior to the 1998-99 season.
Saddled with the solitude that greatness engenders and the expectations of a savior, Garnett says he relished having someone to rely on: "It felt good to have what I felt [was] a real teammate around me."
"Malik and Kevin were brothers, best friends," says Minnesota teammate and later Toronto Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell. "... Malik brought Kevin out of that shell. Malik taught Kevin how to be comfortable with being a superstar."
Sealy's life ended on May 19, 2000, when a 43-year-old man got drunk, drove the wrong way on a highway and slammed his pickup truck into the SUV that Sealy was driving home from a surprise party. The occasion? Garnett's 24th birthday.
In the entry on Garnett in "The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac," the FreeDarko Collective described Sealy's death as "Garnett's final indoctrination into elderhood," the birth of a specter that haunts him uniquely and ceaselessly:
With Sealy's memory forever weighing on him, there would be no "settling down" period in Garnett's life. This third lesson: All is impermanent.
All except sorrow and disbelief. A decade on, Garnett still looks perplexed by that night.
"I'd just seen him," Garnett says. "[My aunt was] like, 'Malik's dead.' And when she said it, it felt like time had stopped." After a deep breath and a shake of his head, he adds in a whisper: "That's what that was."
Video courtesy of @Jose3030.