How Michael Jordan Taught Kevin Garnett a Lesson He’ll Never Forget

Former NBA player Kevin Garnett was notorious for his trash-talking abilities. He was also one of the best players in the NBA while doing so. This doesn’t mean the surefire Hall-of-Famer was never humbled. In a recent All the Smoke podcast interview, Garnett reflected on the time he tried to get brave against Michael Jordan and immediately regretted the decision.

Kevin Garnett’s trash talk

Garnett didn’t care who you were; he would trash-talk you regardless. Always known as a loose cannon on the court, he backed it up with legendary play every night. Still, Garnett’s brand of trash-talking didn’t always sit right with players. Occasionally, he crossed the line both on the court and in the locker room. 

There was the time he told Tim Duncan “Happy Mother’s Day” before the two faced off. And, yes, Garnett knew Duncan’s mother had passed away, reports The Undefeated. Even in his later NBA days, when his skills did not hold up as well, Garnett allegedly said derogatory things about Carmelo Anthony’s wife

During a 2004 playoff series against the Sacramento Kings, Garnett found himself in hot water after comparing basketball with war. He claimed he was going to use every proverbial weapon at his disposal to crush his opponents.

Garnett’s trash talk could be purposely mean and occasionally misunderstood. Even he’s acknowledged he crossed the line throughout his career. The time he most regretted, at least from a basketball standpoint, happened when he crossed paths with Jordan.

A line too far…

On the podcast, Garnett said he made the mistake of pointing out the way his teammate, J.R. Rider, was outplaying Jordan. MJ heard and responded in a matter any NBA fan expects. “Hands on hips. Legs locked. [Jordan] stared at me for about 15 seconds.”

At that moment, the six-point game still gave the Timberwolves a chance to turn it around. After Garnett’s comment, in the fourth quarter, Jordan’s team massacred the Wolves by 21 points. Not content with winning, Jordan sought out Garnett after the game and told him something blunt. 

“Mike [walked] down [and said], ‘OK, young fella,'” Garnett explained. “‘OK. Damn, young fella, damn, y’all done?'” Garnett said. “Never talked s— to Mike ever again in life.”

Garnett claimed this was one of the most humbling experiences of his NBA career. Jordan, after all, would famously make up trash-talk to invigorate both himself and his team. So any real trash talk was bound to go poorly, especially if it came from a youth at the height of Jordan’s reign. 

Garnett didn’t stop with Jordan, however. He also gave credit to another rival for his less-than-normal brand of trash talk. 

Tim Duncan: silent assassin?

Tim Duncan’s brand of trash talk is legendary in its own right. Garnett got his jabs in, as stated by his earlier trash talk. According to Complex, he said Duncan never got angry at trash talk, but his relatively inoffensive form of communication made it worse. This humbled Garnett.

“People would not see him verbally saying stuff because he wouldn’t talk in sentences,” Garnett explained. “Timmy would hit you in phrases. ‘Got you.’ ‘Ooh.’ ‘Almost.’ The worst right here: ‘Nice try.’ Subtle s—. No gangsta s—. No real hardcore s— … And then what really, really, really pissed me off was when the trash talk wasn’t affecting him … and that’s when I quit talking trash to Timmy.”

Garnett talked a lot of trash in his career; some of it was funny, others not so much. In hearing him discuss it, fans got a look at how it can be a double-edged sword. Sometimes it isn’t the profane tirade that hurts most, but the people who respond with skill.

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