The 6'11" champion power forward of the Boston Celtics has been called plenty of things over his 16 year career: franchise player, intense warrior, MVP. But you may or may not be surprised to learn that Kevin Garnett is also an avid gamer. Yes, gamers come in all shapes, sizes, and avatars! We had the chance to chop it up with the future Hall of Famer while he was out West for the first annual Call of Duty: XP at the Stages in Playa Visa, California. Alongside fellow NBA stars like Oklahoma Thunder's Russell Westbrook, Minnesota Timberwolves' Kevin Love, and Miami Heat's Chris Bosh—each lead a team of military servicemen and attendees in the ultimate Pros vs. G.I. Joes Call of Duty Grudge Match.
With the NBA season somewhere in the air up there, it was a moment to build with the man known as one of the game's most fiercest competitors about his thoughts on NBA 2K12, his favorite titles to play, how a game of Madden ‘97 ended with a broken TV, and how he would led his own team in ending the current NBA lockout.
Interview by Kevin L. Clark (@DLYDJ)
Complex: It's truly an honor to talk to you, KG! I didn't know you were such a gaming enthusiast. What brought you out to Los Angeles to compete in this "Pros vs. G.I. Joes" grudge match?
Kevin Garnett: I've always considered myself a gamer. I'm forever online; always playing some game. I've been a video game head for a long time and enjoy playing. So, when the opportunity presents itself, you know, I ain't never scared. Never have I had an opportunity to play with other gamers on a stage like this. The interactions have been crazy, so you know it's more about the opportunity to compete more than anything.
Complex: So then, are you a more deadlier shot when you're in front of an audience or when you're online at home?
KG: You're always comfortable at home, y'know?! I don't pretend to be the best when it comes to Modern Warfare, but I do enjoy playing the game. I sincerely love the competition. I love the conglomerate that my friends and I have when we start playing online. The interaction between us is hilarious or vicious—depending on if you're doing your thing or not! It's dope for me. That's what I really enjoy at the end of the day. It don't matter really because I look at it like I'm chilling with a bunch of gamers from the comfort of my own home.
Complex: It's no secret that you have a pretty ferocious competitive streak. While playing a game whether it's sports related or first-person shooter—what's the worst way you've reacted to taking an L. Any mailmen that got cussed out the next day? Holes in the wall?
I've always considered myself a gamer. I'm forever online; always playing some game. I've been a video game head for a long time and enjoy playing.
KG: [Laughs] To be honest with you, man, I broke a TV. It was during a game of Madden '97, and this is young me, Kev, and the guy did a Hail Mary play on me for the win. I was up by 3, by a field goal, and there's 10-15 seconds left on the clock. I set up Cover 4. I'm all the way back, trying to prepare for the long heave-ho, and the guy just bombs a Hail May. The guy catches it and just off of instinct, I hopped up and broke the TV by throwing my controller at it. My intensity just got the best of me that day [laughs].
Complex: With NBA 2K12 getting ready to come out [Ed. note — In stores now], do you catch any flashbacks when you play? Reminiscence over your first few years in the league?
KG: The 2K fam really was good at letting me get a sneak peek at the game. All my friends, my homeboys, and my brothers play! When that comes out it's like the world stops! Every time I play 2K I always catch a flashback [laughs]. Oh, man it makes you reminiscence! You think about the yesteryears, those moments where you can look at your own career in real time. When you really do reflect on it, it probably won't truly hit me until I'm away from the game. But while you in it, I'm in it.
Complex: When the game's commentators Kevin Harlan and Clark Kellog relive those classic NBA moments like your 2008 championship or significant losses—does that get your mood ready for the next season?
KG: It fuels the fire, but you know, at the same time when you're winning it's great; when you're losing it's encouraging. When you're winning you're also encouraged to continue to win and to stay on top, but when you lose it is unlike anything else. It is truly fuel for the warrior's spirit.
Complex: You commented earlier that you're a gamer, so let's put you to the test, shall we? What are your favorite games that hands down you can always play no matter the weather?
KG: Hands down? I'd have to say FIFA is an ultimate classic to play. You already know I'm a Madden fan. I play online poker and Treasure Island 3. I can play them four games all that, no matter the weather, you know?! If that's what I'm gonna play, I'm gonna play it all day. I might mix and match, maybe jump on X-Men, and whatever game is dope to play. Obviously, I'm playing that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. I'm on that Black Ops right now and waiting on the new game to drop in November. Other than that, man, those are like my five or six games that I'm rotating and playing every day. When I'm playing Black Ops and I'm getting killed, I'll switch up to FIFA. Then I might go from that to Madden, Madden to college football, you know?! I'll be making my own player, progressing and maturing him, and then go back to Call of Duty—so I'm all over the place.
The guy catches it and just off of instinct, I hopped up and broke the TV by throwing my controller at it. My intensity just got the best of me that day [laughs].
Complex: Last question. I was listening to you on The Dan Patrick Show earlier and the subject turned to the NBA lockout. To put a little twist on that using your Call of Dutyexperience—how would you lead the players stealthily around the lockout situation to save the NBA season?
KG: [Laughs] Good one, man! First, I would secure a perimeter to make sure we could be out there like we need to be. Then, I would work with our position on different outlets to establish a parameter, something to where we could all do what's best, and that's obviously play ball. So, while we were playing, I would actually have other soldiers secure a perimeter to make sure that we can continue to play uninterrupted. I would own that space right there. I would just dominate that space right there. I would create a space and then have us hold down the fort the whole time while we, the players, would negotiate with the other side. We would sit down at the table to get something done to get something that made sense for both sides. That's what I would be doing.