Kevin Garnett and Chris Bosh, two of the greatest power forwards of the last 20 years, have both had to call time on their illustrious careers. Whilst both men’s careers have had a certain symmetry, the circumstances of their retirements couldn’t be more different. Garnett and Bosh are arguably the franchise that drafted them’s greatest ever players, Garnett for the Timberwolves and Bosh for the Raptors, both could never quite deliver a championship to their first NBA home, then both sought pastures new, joined a big three and finally won the championships that eluded them. However, Garnett will retire feeling he has achieved everything and more whilst Bosh will feel as though his career has been cut short, cruelly and by circumstances beyond his control.
For Garnett it has been the ravages of time that have brought the curtain down on his time in the NBA. KG enter the league in 1995 straight from high school and quickly established himself as a defensive menace as well as an efficient scorer for the newly formed Minnesota Timberwolves. During his 12 seasons in the frozen north, the South Carolina native lead the Wolves to their only period of sustained success during their short history. Under his leadership Minnesota made eight consecutive playoff appearances and Garnett was a ten time All-Star and won the league MVP award in 2004.
Unfortunately for Garnett his personal achievements were not matched by the team success he craved, the Timberwolves made 7 consecutive first round exits before finally making the conference finals in 2004 where they were defeated by Kobe and Shaq’s Lakers. There was a sense that the Timberwolves could never quite surround KG with the supporting cast his talent deserved and in 2007, after some frustrating years in Minnesota, Garnett decided to take his talents to Boston.
In Boston KG joined Paul Pierce and Ray Allen as the new big three in a city that hadn’t won an NBA championship since 1986, when the previous incarnation of the big three; Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish reigned in The Garden. With the burden of being the teams primary scorer shifted to Pierce and Allen, Garnett became the defensive anchor of the team winning Defensive Player of the Year and guiding the Celtics to a championship in his first season. Whilst the team never scaled those heights again Garnett’s legacy can still be felt in Boston as the assets Boston gained from trading KG and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn have kept the team competitive. After the trade some disappointing years have followed where Garnett’s body has finally begun to fail him, he will retire back where he started in Minnesota after 21 years in the NBA.
The path for Chris Bosh has been similar, drafted in 2003 by the Toronto Raptors, he was also a southern boy who made it big in the frozen north. Bosh is Toronto’a all time leader in points, rebounds and double-doubles, along with Vince Carter he put basketball on the map in Canada and can consider himself Toronto’s greatest ever player. Much like Garnett he couldn’t deliver a championship to Toronto with his Raptors squads always falling short, failing to capitalise on Bosh’s exceptional talent.
In 2010 it was Bosh’s turn to join a supergroup in Miami alongside LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to chase that elusive championship. In the same way that Garnett did Bosh sacrificed his own stats and offensive touches for the sake of team, focusing instead on rebounding and becoming a complementary piece to James and Wade. This sacrifice yielded four trips to the NBA Finals and two Championship rings. However, after the 2015 All-Star Game Bosh’s life was turned upside down after he was admitted to hospital due to blood clots in his lung.
Whilst Bosh has not officially retired it seems unlikely he will return to the NBA after failing a medical which would have allowed him to return to Miami’s training camp. The exact reasons for Bosh failing the test have not been released but there seems little doubt that it is the same blood clots that have plagued his last two seasons. It is understandable that Bosh doesn’t wan’t to go quietly into the light, it must be a horrific feeling to have your career ended so abruptly. Professional sportspeople are accustomed to being in control and Bosh has suddenly lost control of how he exits the stage, in all likelihood he will not be ending his career on his terms but forced into an early retirement by illness. Whilst his predicament is unfortunate, it is crucial that Bosh doesn’t loose sight of his priorities which are to his wife and four children. Finishing his career early may seem like the end of the world now but it is not worth risking his life for and leaving his family behind, he has achieved more than most in the game and can leave with his head held high.
It is perhaps fitting that these two players should bow out at the same time. Their careers have mirrored each other and a young Bosh was often compared to Garnett. It is likely that they will both end up in the Basketball Hall of Fame however, it is a shame for Bosh that it has ended a few years too early.