Kevin Garnett - Dunks
Garnett was drafted with the fifth pick of the 1995 NBA Draft by the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves, and became the first player to be drafted directly out of high school since 1975. After joining the NBA for the 1989–90 season, the Timberwolves had not won more than 29 games in any season. In Garnett's rookie season, the Timberwolves were in the midst of a transition phase; they replaced Bill Blair with Flip Saunders as head coach early in the season and made several trades. Garnett initially came off the bench in his rookie year, but moved into the starting lineup soon after Saunders became head coach. In his rookie year, Garnett and fellow newcomer Tom Gugliotta carried the scoring load. Garnett did not immediately leap to stardom as later prep-to-pro prospects such as Amar'e Stoudemire, LeBron James and Dwight Howard would, but he did have a very respectable rookie year. He averaged 10.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game and was voted into the All-Rookie Second Team. Despite having some promising players, the Timberwolves suffered through their seventh consecutive sub-30 win season and failed to make the playoffs. At the time Garnett was the youngest NBA player in history at 19 years and 11 months of age.During the 1997–98 NBA season, the Timberwolves and Garnett agreed on a six-year contract extension that was worth an unparalleled $126 million. The contract was a risky move and many pundits speculated that the deal would make it impossible for the Wolves to sign new players or even keep their own. The enormous size of Garnett's contract was considered, by numerous sports writers, a major cause of labor tensions between players and owners that lead to a lockout which shortened the 1998–99 NBA season. Despite the furor over his new contract, Garnett continued to improve, averaging 18.5 points, 9.6 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.8 blocks, and 1.7 steals per game. Again, he was an All-Star, and the Timberwolves finished with their first winning record in franchise history (45–37 for the season). For the second consecutive year the young Timberwolves bowed out of the playoffs in the first round, this time losing 2–3 against the Seattle SuperSonics and superstar point guard Gary Payton. The two wins against the Sonics marked the Wolves' first-ever playoff game wins. The off-season started poorly for the Timberwolves though as 20-point per game scorer Tom Gugliotta left for the Phoenix Suns.In the 2001–02 season, Garnett posted another notable season, his averages of 21.2 points, 12.1 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.2 steals per game enough for another All-NBA Second Team nomination. However, the Timberwolves bowed out in the first round for the sixth consecutive time, this time getting swept 3–0 by the Dallas Mavericks led by Michael Finley, Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki. Garnett's next season was one of the best of his career, his 23.0 ppg / 13.0 rpg / 6.0 apg / 1.6 bpg / 1.4 spg season earning him his second All-NBA First Team nomination and second place in the MVP voting. The Timberwolves posted a good 51–31 record, but for the seventh consecutive time, they did not make it out of the first round, this time losing to the Los Angeles Lakers, 4 games to 2. In the 2004–05 season, Garnett was named to the All-NBA Second Team, but the Timberwolves failed to make the playoffs for the first time in eight years with a record of 44–38. The 2005–06 season brought more frustration for Garnett. Sprewell turned down a 3-year $21 million dollar extension, and the Wolves wary of his injuries and age, traded Cassell for the much less effective Marko Jaric, and the team record for '05–'06 fell to 33–49. Despite Garnett's play, the team logged the second worst record since Garnett joined the franchise. On 10 May 2007 Garnett was named to the All-NBA Third Team. During the 2007 off-season, Taylor admitted that although he had planned on retaining Garnett, he would finally listen to trade offers. Garnett's name was mentioned in various trade rumors involving the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers, Boston Celtics, Phoenix Suns, and Dallas Mavericks.
On July 31, 2007, Garnett was traded to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair, Gerald Green, Theo Ratliff, cash considerations, Boston's 2009 first-round draft pick (top 3 protected) and the 2009 first-round pick Minnesota had traded to Boston in the Ricky Davis-Wally Szczerbiak trade of 2006. The 7-for-1 deal constitutes the largest number of players traded for a single player in league history. At the time of the trade, Garnett had the longest current tenure of any player in the NBA with one team, having played for the Timberwolves for his first 12 seasons (a total of 927 games). Garnett said that he was proud to be a part of the Celtics, and hoped to continue its proud tradition and basketball success. On the day the trade was announced, Garnett signed a three-year $60 million contract extension that would start after his prior deal ran out in 2009. On August 1, 2007 the day after signing his Celtics contract, Garnett threw the ceremonial first pitch at Fenway Park prior to a Red Sox-Orioles game. Garnett has claimed to be a long-time Red Sox fan. In the 2008–09 season, Garnett started all of the 57 games he was able to suit up for. He averaged 15.8 points 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists. On October 31, 2008, Garnett became the youngest player in NBA history to reach 1,000 career games, at 32 years and 165 days. Garnett earned his twelfth consecutive All-Star Game start on February 15, 2009. Following the All-Star Game, during a game against the Utah Jazz, Garnett strained his right knee late in the second quarter. The injury occurred on February 19, 2009, while attempting to go up for an alley-oop. He was forced to miss the next 14 games. Upon his return from the injury, he averaged 9 points and 4.5 rebounds in four games before being shut down for the season permanently, missing the final 25 games of the regular season including the 2009 NBA playoffs due to a right knee sprain. The Celtics would advance to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals that year, only to be eliminated by the Orlando Magic. In the 2009–2010 season, Garnett and the Celtics, joined by newly signed free agent Rasheed Wallace, struggled with injuries and inconsistency throughout much of the regular season and earned the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Garnett was selected to play in the 2010 NBA All-Star Game (his 13th All-Star Game selection). Despite being written off by nearly every major sports analyst, the Celtics elevated their play and consistently dominated opponents much as they did during their 2008 Championship run. They eliminated the Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Orlando Magic to advance to face the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2010 NBA Finals. The 2010 Finals went to a decisive seventh game in Los Angeles, where the Celtics led well into the third quarter before the Lakers mounted a comeback and held on for the victory. Although Garnett is officially listed as 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m) by the NBA, he is widely accepted as at least seven feet tall. During the 2007 NBA All-Star Game, Garnett admitted in an interview with Craig Sager to be "6 ft 11 in and some quarters" (2.12 m) tall. Measurements from the 1995 NBA Draft show the 19 year-old Garnett measured 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m) tall barefoot; any growth since then would make him at least 7 ft 0 in (2.13 m). In 1997, Garnett was measured by Minnesota Timberwolves training staff as 7 ft 1 in (2.16 m) tall in his basketball shoes.