Every red-blooded American sports fan has played the “Who Would You Rather Be?” game. It’s always fun because in sports there really are no absolutes. There are a million different reasons and a million different factors that affect who a person chooses. I guarantee that any guy who would say “Wilt Chamberlain” is probably more interested in his…“off-court” success than his two rings and 100-point game.
Now for me, if we were to play this game, instead calling it “Whose Legacy Would You Rather Have,” it would be easy to say Michael Jordan, because I see him as the greatest player of all time.
So that wouldn’t be an article. That would be boom—Michael Jordan. Done. Blog over.
So in looking for #2…I went through a few different names.
Karl Malone…#2 greatest scorer of all time. The people’s elbow….Deadbeat father. Scratch.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. 5 rings. Sky hook. But overshadowed in his own era…by his own teammates, even. Scratch.
Larry Bird...They call him "Basketball Jesus!" Buuut I am a black man, and he played in Boston. Scratch.
Scottie Pippen…Portland and Houston jacked him up...and he will always receive less respect than he deserves, because Michael Jordan is already legendary and he hasn’t even been out of the league long enough for there to be a legend! We saw him play 5 years ago! Over time he will continue to receive more and more of the credit for what his teams accomplished. By 2028, will we even remember the other 11 guys with Jordan? Poor Scottie…
(Note: Wow, MJ even dominated Scottie's PARAGRAPH!! That is tough...)
Shaquille O’Neil…I think the person that would most rather be Shaq…is Shaq. He loves himself…so we don’t have to.
Penny Hardaway…HA HA HAA kidding!
Dirk Nowitzki…[fuming]…why did I just do that to myself?
(let’s stop there…[still fuming])
So after thinking relatively un-hard about this…I realized that the legacy that has to be worth the most…is the legacy of Kevin Garnett.
Think about this for me…
He is a pioneer, having paved the way for Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwight Howard to even BE in the NBA.
He made himself so valuable that the league went into the ’98 lockout partly as a result of his contract.
He stayed in the favor of the media and fans despite having NEVER won anything
He stepped into many people’s discussion as a hall of famer after only winning ONE ring!
He had crappy teammates his entire career but was supremely successful in the two years he had good ones – 2004 with Cassell in Minny, and winning a ring this year with Paul & Ray in Boston.
He is a media darling, always entertaining, allowed to say anything he wanted to say, to the point that his uncontrolled reaction after winning the championship was shown by ABC at the end of the game.
He endeared himself so much in Minnesota that people actually WANTED to see him win a ring in another city—and placed their anger on management for not building a better team there!
He will probably be regarded as one of the most intense players to ever play the game, but somehow also one of the most unselfish—a combination we rarely ever see. Here is a guy who trusts his teammates, but still pushes himself to the limit.
He has always stayed out of trouble, and he has always been close to the media, but somehow he possesses a higher level of relevance and the clichéd “street credibility” than players who have won more, scored more, and played longer.
He was the only guy who seemed to realize just how DISGUSTING what had just happened to Frederick Weis’ face really was. He knew instantly.
He helped a nation bridge the gap…as Shawn Kemp slowly grew fatter and fatter. We needed an intense, high flying power forward, and KG was there for us. Still, we miss you, Shawn.
He quietly became one of the top-3 rebounders in the league, and he was much more prolific at that than scoring or defense, but his personality helped to maintain his star status.
And THAT, to me, is a legacy worth something.