|ESPN.com: NBA Playoffs 2010||[Print without images]|
|Although he was fairly skinny as a senior at Farragut Academy (Chicago), Kevin Garnett's game was full-grown.|
“"He felt that they had singled him out because in a crowd, he stands out above everyone," said former Farragut assistant coach Ron Eskridge. "He had a little chip on his shoulder after and something to prove." The competition would be stiffer up north, but Garnett was always willing to test himself. And his new coach was looking for any way he could to toughen Garnett's skin for the physical Chicago style. Nelson began taking him to Kennedy King Community College for pickup games -- "That's where the best of the best get out," Nelson said -- and brought adults and former players to practice, but even that wasn't enough. "We'd walk in the gym and everyone would rather get his autograph than play against him," Nelson said. So Nelson began diverting the weekend and after-school trips to the roughest neighborhoods he could think of. "We went to some places that were hard-core," Nelson said. "I took him to some jungles, everywhere I knew that they didn't care about your reputation. They'd either make you or break you." Garnett was up for the challenge. Although Nelson said Garnett was always laid-back and often too willing to defer and play the "team player" role, he was someone who not only desired greatness for himself, but demanded it. He was also a harsh self-critic, wearing rubber bands around his wrists and snapping them to scold himself for mistakes.
"He always had that dog in him. We just had to remind him that it was OK to play aggressive.” -- Former Farragut Academy (Ill.) assistant coach Ron Eskridge
|KG paved the way by being just the first in 20 years to make the jump straight from the preps to pros.|