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Kevin Garnett And The History Of Chicago Playground Basketball

October 31, 2007

Although Kevin Garnett played basketball in Chicago for little more than a year, around 1994-1995, he identified that experience as formative in his basketball life. This comes from a Boston Globe article published yesterday. If you are interested in the history of sports or sports culture, check out the piece. Here’s a snippet on his extracurricular experiences on some of Chicago’s famed asphalt courts:

– “More than a decade later, the 31-year-old Garnett vividly recalls the places and players in Chicago where he sought competition he could not find in high school games. He lists the places slowly, reverentially. Kennedy King College. Saturday mornings. Oooh, Lord. Franklin Park. Man, the midnight league. LeClair Courts. Some battles there. Malcolm X College. The Boys and Girls Club on Roosevelt. He lists the players with equal respect. Pros and college stars home for the summer like Antoine Walker, Juwan Howard, and Rashard Griffith. ‘Hood cats’ like Big Hammer and Helicopter.”
– ” ‘All those places he named are basketball sites where they’re going to be hacking,’ said the Celtics’ Tony Allen, a Chicago product who followed the growing legend of Garnett around the city as a 12-year-old. ‘There are going to be Dennis Rodman-type fouls. He played through all that. That’s what makes him who he is now. He got that heart from Chicago, playing through the grimiest places, the toughest places, where you think you might not come up out of there. But your game on the court makes everybody love you.’ “
– “At the well-known ‘hood spots on the west and south sides of Chicago, Garnett quickly made a name for himself, becoming an attraction the basketball community adopted as its own. Everyone wanted to see the ‘Big Fella.’ Anytime, anywhere, Garnett took on challengers. He learned respect and bragging rights were earned every day, every game. Nothing came easy in Chicago, and Garnett would have it no other way.”
– ” ‘I embraced it,’ said Garnett. ‘You know how they say dope fiends chase a high? I was chasing that. I wanted to see who was the best in the city. If you want to be the best, you have to play against the best. You have to experience that. I’ve always searched that out.’ “

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Great stuff. And even though the courts mentioned by Garnett above are not by Lake Michigan, the picture below reminds me of the basketball here in the city. – TL

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