Kevin Garnett: 'Gaming is life'

September, 7, 2011
09/07/11
3:41
PM ET
By Jon Robinson
Kevin GarnettActivisionKevin Garnett takes on members of the military in "Call of Duty."

When Kevin Garnett signed up to shoot it out with the real military in a game of "Call of Duty," he knew he didn't stand much of a chance.

"That's like trying to rhyme with a real MC or trying to throw a fastball to a major leaguer," the Celtics star told me with a laugh before his game onstage at the first-ever Call of Duty XP convention in Los Angeles. Garnett was leading his team of gamers into Pros versus G.I. Joes combat, a challenge series where athletes play members of the military in a variety of video games. Sometimes the ballers get lucky and play virtual hoops against a service member in Iraq. But on this day, it was KG who was stepping into enemy territory, trying to outgun and outrun men and women who courageously do this for real once the controllers are down.

Garnett's teammates and opponents on stage included fellow NBA player Russell Westbrook as well as members of the Air Force, Army and Marines. Other military members jumped into the fray online from Kandahar and Shindand (Afghanistan), Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (Germany) and As Sayliyah (Qatar).

But to Garnett, he felt no pressure playing the competition, even if it was in front of a crowd of "Call of Duty" enthusiasts quick to point out every flaw in his technique.

"This is video games, not basketball," said KG, shrugging off the pressure. "Playing video games is something I enjoy in my spare time. I'm a gamer, always have been."

And to Garnett, no game franchise captures more of his attention than Activision's "Call of Duty."

"If you look at 'SOCOM' and all of the games out there, 'SOCOM' was the game everybody was on when PlayStation first came out," Garnett said. "But 'Call of Duty' took what 'SOCOM' was and has taken gaming to the next level. 'Modern Warfare,' 'Black Ops,' these are all the next level of video games. The people are more detailed, the fighting is more exact, and I can't speak for every gamer out there, but I know when I play, I feel like I'm actually in the game. It's that intense."

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