Tagged with "arn"
Arn Anderson - One of the greatest wrestlers of all time Tags: arn anderson greatest wrestling all time word life production featured blog

Martin Anthony Lunde (born September 20, 1958) better known by his ring name Arn Anderson, is a former American professional wrestler and author. His career has been highlighted by his alliances with Ric Flair and various members of the wrestling stable, The Four Horsemen, in the NWA/WCW. He currently serves as the senior producer for WWE's Raw brand. On March 31, 2012, Anderson was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as a member of the Four Horsemen.

Lunde began his career in early 1982,trained by Ted Lipscomb(Allen) spending much of the year wrestling in various independent wrestling companies across the United States.[2] By the middle of 1983, he made his way to Southeastern Championship Wrestling, an NWA affiliated promotion operating out of Tennessee and Alabama. Taking the name of "Super Olympia", Lunde soon became a member of Ron Fuller's Stud Stable before the year was out. Lunde saw success in the tag team ranks by winning the NWA Southeastern Tag Team Championship three times with Mr. Olympia and once with Pat Rose throughout 1984. It was also here in this promotion that Lunde met and began what would become a lifelong friendship with Flair. By the end of the year, however, Lunde left the company and joined Mid South Wrestling based out of Shreveport. Lunde's time in Mid South was coming to an end and during a TV taping the Junk Yard Dog mentioned to Bill Watts, the owner of Mid South Wrestling, that Lunde looked like an Anderson. Watts called Jim Crockett and convinced him to book Lunde.

Lunde made his way to Jim Crockett, Jr.'s Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling based in the Virginias and the Carolinas. By this time, the company extended its range into Georgia after rival promoter Vince McMahon purchased Georgia Championship Wrestling. There was a strong physical resemblance between Lunde and Ole Anderson, who had achieved legendary status in the Georgia and Mid-Atlantic territories as a tag team wrestler. Ole noticed that Lunde's style was a no nonsense approach in the ring and specialized in working over a part of an opponent's body throughout the match, much like Ole himself. Anderson agreed to work with Lunde, helping to hone his capabilities, and re-formed the Minnesota Wrecking Crew with Lunde replacing Gene Anderson and taking on the name of Arn Anderson, Ole's kayfabe nephew. The team quickly became a force in the territory by capturing the NWA National Tag Team Championship in March 1985.[2] Arn and Ole defended the titles throughout the year, with their highest profile match being part of the card for Starrcade '85 on Thanksgiving night. The Crew successfully defended the titles against Wahoo McDaniel and Billy Jack Haynes.

In the latter half of 1985, the Andersons formed a loose knit alliance with fellow heels Tully Blanchard and Ric Flair, as they began to have common enemies. The foursome frequently teamed together in six and, sometimes, eight-man tag matches or interfered in each other's matches to help score a victory or, at least, to prevent each other from losing their titles. The alliance quickly became a force within the territory, working in feuds against some of the biggest stars in the company like Dusty Rhodes, Magnum T.A., the Road Warriors and the Rock 'n' Roll Express. Anderson also saw success as a singles wrestler on January 4, 1986 by winning the vacant NWA Television Championship.[2] Simultaneously, Anderson was still one half of the NWA National Tag Team Champions and, even though Crockett promotions abandoned the National Tag titles in March, Anderson's success as a duo champion elevated his status within the territory. It was also during this time (in 1986) that the Andersons, Blanchard, and Flair began calling themselves Four Horsemen with James J. Dillon serving as the group's manager.[2] Anderson also had a tremendous ability to do interviews to further the storylines he participated in. His ability to improvise in interviews allowed him to coin the "Four Horsemen" moniker for the stable, as he likened their coming to wrestle at an event and the aftermath of their wrath as being akin to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and the name stuck. Anderson continued his reign as NWA Television Champion for most of the year, holding the championship for just over 9 months before losing it to Dusty Rhodes on September 9, 1986.

The first real setback with the Horsemen occurred at Starrcade '86 after Anderson and Ole lost a Steel Cage match to The Rock 'n' Roll Express, with Ole getting pinned. The subsequent storyline positioned Ole as the weak link within the team, possibly attributed to his age. Ole's position with the group was only further weakened after he decided to take two months off after Starrcade. After Ole's return in February 1987, the other Horsemen turned on him and threw him out of the group, resulting in Ole incurring numerous attacks over the next several months. Afterwards, Ole was replaced with Lex Luger and the Horsemen resumed their dominance of the company.

As a member of the Horsemen, Anderson continued to be involved in high profile angles within the company. By mid-1987, Anderson and fellow Horsemen Tully Blanchard began regularly competing as a tag team and rose quickly through the tag team ranks.[2] The duo faced the Rock 'n' Roll Express for the NWA World Tag Team Championship on September 29, 1987 and were victorious.[2] This win further solidified the group's dominance in the company as Lex Luger was the reigning NWA United States Heavyweight Champion and Ric Flair spent most of 1987 as the NWA World Heavyweight Champion, losing it to Ron Garvin in September, only to regain it at Starrcade '87 on Thanksgiving night. Anderson and Tully continued to feud throughout the rest of the year and first few months of 1988 with the Road Warriors, the Rock 'n' Roll Express and the Midnight Express being their most frequent rivals.

By December 1987, Luger had defected from the Horsemen and began a heated feud with the group, with Ric Flair especially. In early 1988, Luger formed a tag team with Barry Windham and began challenging Anderson and Blanchard for the NWA World Tag Team Championship. The bigger, stronger team of Windham and Luger were eventually successful, winning the titles on March 27, 1988. The reign would be short lived, however, as Anderson and Blanchard regained the titles less than a month later after Barry Windham turned on Luger during their match and joined the Horsemen. Though Anderson and Blanchard were two of the biggest stars in Crockett's company, they were frequently in dispute with Crockett over their pay. Despite the fact that the two, along with the Horsemen, were helping to generate millions of dollars in revenue for the company, they considered themselves to be underpaid. Their last contracted match with the company took place on September 10, 1988 when they dropped the NWA World Tag Team Championship to the Midnight Express before leaving for the WWF.

Arn Anderson once described his style and that of Blanchard's on national TV: 'I'm his strength, and he's my speed.'

Anderson and Blanchard left Crockett's company to join Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation. Upon being named the Brain Busters, the team took Bobby "The Brain" Heenan as their manager and quickly began rising through the tag team ranks, eventually coming to challenge Demolition for the WWF Tag Team Championship. On July 18, 1989, the Brain Busters won the titles, ending Demolition's historic reign of 478 days; the match would air on the July 29 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event. Although they would lose the titles back to Demolition just over three months later, the Brain Busters continued to be a force in the WWF's tag team division.

In December 1989, Anderson left the WWF and went back to his old stomping grounds.[2] Blanchard was slated to return as well but WWF accused him of testing positive for cocaine. Crockett's company was now called World Championship Wrestling and was under the ownership of billionaire mogul Ted Turner. Anderson helped to reform the Horsemen and he quickly found success in the company, winning the NWA World Television Championship an January 2, 1990.[2] Anderson remained the champion almost the entire year before dropping it to Tom Zenk. Zenk's reign would be short lived, however, as Anderson regained the title, having been renamed the WCW World Television Championship on January 14, 1991.[2] His third reign with the title was also considered successful as he held the title a little more than five months before dropping it to "Beautiful" Bobby Eaton on May 19, 1991. Afterwards, Anderson entered the tag team ranks of WCW.

In the summer of 1991, Anderson formed a tag team with Larry Zbyszko and they called themselves The Enforcers. After competing for several months and moving up in the tag team ranks, they successfully captured the WCW World Tag Team Championship on September 2, 1991. The reign would be short lived, however, as they lost the titles roughly two and a half months later to Ricky Steamboat and Dustin Rhodes. Anderson and Zbyszko went their separate ways shortly afterward. Anderson quickly rebounded from his split with Zbyszko and formed a tag team with Beautiful Bobby Eaton, a long-time friend and best known for his time as one half of the Midnight Express. At this point, they were members of Paul E. Dangerously's Dangerous Alliance. They quickly moved up the tag team division and were soon a threat to Steamboat and Rhodes. Anderson and Eaton quickly won the titles on January 16, 1992 and defended the titles against all comers for the next four and a half months before losing the titles to The Steiner Brothers in May.

In May 1993, Anderson joined Ole Anderson and Ric Flair to re-form the Four Horsemen. The Horsemen introduced Paul Roma as their newest member. Although athletic and a skilled in-ring competitor, Roma had spent much of his career as a jobber in the WWF. As part of an interview segment for the Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen DVD, Triple H stated that he thought the addition of Roma made the membership the weakest in the history of the group, and Arn himself referred to Roma as "a glorified gym rat". Although Anderson and Roma won the WCW World Tag Team Championship in August, the group quickly split and was seen as a dismal failure by WCW.

Anderson remained a regular, on-screen performer in WCW over the next few years. He rejoined Col. Rob Parker's Stud Stable in 1994 with Terry Funk, Bunkhouse Buck, "Stunning" Steve Austin and Meng.[3] The Stud Stable feuded heavily with Dusty and Dustin Rhodes until late 1994 when Funk left. In early 1995, Meng left (eventually to join the Dungeon of Doom).

Anderson went to rejoin Ric Flair. Anderson's last championship run began on January 8, 1995 after winning the WCW World Television Championship. Anderson helped restore the prestige of the title, which he held for just over six months before dropping it to The Renegade. He briefly feuded with long-time friend Flair, and was assisted by Brian Pillman in his efforts. However, it was a swerve to reunify the Horsemen with Flair, Anderson, Pillman, and a partner to be named later (who ended up being Chris Benoit).

By the end of 1996, Anderson rarely competed in the ring as years of wear and tear on his body finally started to catch up with him. On the August 25, 1997 episode of WCW Monday Nitro, Anderson formally announced his retirement from the ring.[2] While standing in the ring, surrounded by Ric Flair and newest Horsemen members Steve McMichael and Benoit, Anderson declared that his last official act as the "Enforcer" for the Four Horsemen was to offer his "spot" in the group to Curt Hennig, as he was forced to retire due to extensive neck and upper back injuries. He would work one or two tag matches officially since then, including teaming with David Flair on an episode of WCW Thunder, but his physical involvement was extremely limited in those bouts.

On the September 14, 1998 edition of Nitro, alongside Steve McMichael, Dean Malenko, and Chris Benoit, Anderson ceremoniously reintroduced Ric Flair to WCW after his 12-month hiatus. In doing so, they reformed the Horsemen who then feuded with WCW President Eric Bischoff. Flair would win the presidency of WCW from Bischoff on the December 28, 1998 episode of WCW Monday Nitro followed by winning the WCW World Heavyweight Championship at Uncensored '99 and turn heel in the process. Anderson remained Flair's right-hand man during this time as he attempted to keep Flair's delusional hunger for power at bay.

In 2000, Anderson was a member of the short-lived Old Age Outlaws. Led by Terry Funk, the group of veteran wrestlers battled the revived New World Order. WCW would be purchased by the World Wrestling Federation in 2001, ending Anderson's tenure there.

Not long after the closing of WCW, Anderson became a road agent for WWF, renamed World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) in May 2002.[2] He occasionally appears on WWE television trying to, with the help of other WWE management, pull apart backstage brawls. Soon after the WCW/ECW Invasion storyline, Anderson took up color commentary for a WCW World Heavyweight Championship match between Booker T and Buff Bagwell, WCW Cruiserweight Championship match with Billy Kidman and Gregory Helms as well as another WCW Championship match between Diamond Dallas Page and Booker T, which would be his only appearances as a commentator in WWE. He made an appearance on Raw in 2002 delivering a video to Triple H before he was supposed to renew his wedding vows to then-heel, Stephanie McMahon. Anderson was also assaulted on Raw by the heel gimmick of The Undertaker leading up the Undertaker vs. then-babyface, Ric Flair match at WrestleMania X8. During that bout, Anderson made a brief in-ring appearance, delivering his signature spinebuster to The Undertaker. He would later turn heel once again by helping the heel gimmick of Ric Flair in his feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin, leading to Austin literally urinating on him. Several months later he became a face once again and attempted to help a then-babyface Flair gain (kayfabe) sole ownership of WWE during a match with the heel gimmick of Vince McMahon, but backed down from a confrontation with Brock Lesnar, who entered the ring to assist McMahon.

Anderson made a special appearance at the October 2006 Raw Family Reunion special, in which he was in Ric Flair's corner for his match against Mitch of the Spirit Squad. Anderson was in the corner of Flair, Sgt. Slaughter, Dusty Rhodes, and Ron Simmons at Survivor Series 2006, where the four faced the Spirit Squad, but was ejected from the arena during the match.

On the March 31, 2008 Raw, Anderson came out to say his final goodbye to Ric Flair and thank him for his career. In October of that year, at the No Mercy event, he was backstage congratulating Triple H for retaining the WWE Championship in a match with Jeff Hardy.

Anderson and his wife Erin have two sons, Barrett Anthony (born 1985) and Brock (born 1997).

Although he was billed as such at various times, Arn is not related to Gene Anderson, Lars Anderson, Ole Anderson, C.W. Anderson or Ric Flair. He was given the Anderson name and was originally billed as Ole's brother, and then later billed as Ole's nephew, because of his resemblance to Ole in appearance and wrestling style and billed as Ric Flair's cousin. Flair is not related to any of the Andersons, but he is a longtime friend of Arn.

In 1993, Anderson was involved in a brutal stabbing incident during a WCW tour of Europe. On October 27, 1993, in Blackburn, Lancashire, Anderson and Sid Eudy were involved in an argument at a hotel bar. After being sent to their rooms by security chief Doug Dillinger, Eudy later attacked Anderson with a chair leg. A pair of safety scissors was introduced into the brawl by one of the participants, with Eudy receiving four stab wounds and Anderson receiving twenty, losing a pint and a half of blood. The fight was broken up by WCW wrestler Too Cold Scorpio, who was credited with saving Anderson's life. Neither man pressed charges against the other, and British police declined to do so since both men were leaving the country. Eudy was later fired over the incident.[4]

As stated in his biography, in a match in 1994, Arn was thrown into the ring ropes. The top rope broke from the turnbuckle, but he was able to land on his feet. Six months later, the same event happened again, but this time he landed full-force on to the concrete and hit his head, neck, and upper back. He never took time off to heal. As time passed, with no down time, the injuries worsened. In his biography, Anderson states that the first sign of problems was, during a match, his left arm suddenly went numb and unresponsive. Later on, they found a rib, possibly torn away from the spine during the accident, was popping in and out of joint, causing shoulder discomfort and weakness.

Upon seeing his chiropractor in Charlotte, North Carolina, and consulting medical experts in Atlanta, Georgia, the damage was found to be much more severe and surgery was deemed the only option to keep his left arm functioning at all. Surgery occurred in Atlanta in late 1996 (resulting in a left posterior laminectomy of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th cervical bones and a fusion of the 7th cervical and 1st thoracic bones) and was successful in repairing most of the damage, but there does remain some muscle weakness, loss of fine motor control, and loss of muscle mass in his left arm. He spent many weeks in the hospital during that time, crediting his recovery to his wife, his physical therapist, and the fact he did not want his children to be fatherless. However, he would be readmitted in March 1997 with symptoms akin to cardiac arrest and pulmonary failure, but was released soon afterwards.

In July 1997, while working out, a friend saw him at a gym and gave him a hearty slap on the back (he recounts this in his retirement speech). He dropped the water bottle he was carrying and could not regain use of his left arm for several hours. He realized that to step back in the ring and take another injury to the neck could leave him paralyzed or worse. Hence, his retirement and subsequent speech on WCW  programming.

The Comedy Central series Tosh.0 has referred to Anderson on a regular basis beginning with its October 15th, 2009 episode featuring a backyard wrestler redemption. Host Daniel Tosh stated that real wrestling is all about "showmanship and tights", and that if "being a great technician were all it took, then Arn Anderson would be the most famous wrestler in the world". Tosh has continued to "call out" Anderson, even referring to a gap between mentions as "(going) easy on you". Tosh's March 6, 2012 memorabilia dump included a signed Arn Anderson action figure.

Source: Wikipedia

NBA Legend - Kevin Garnett Tags: nba basketball player legend kevin garnett word life production sports entertainment new quality featured

He was once “Da Kid.” Then “The Man.” Now he’s one of Boston’s “Big Three.” Kevin Garnett had done it all in the NBA, except take his team to a title. He checked that one off his to-do list in 2008 after an epic trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Celtics. KG is one of the most enthusiastic, demanding and dedicated players to ever set foot on the hardwood. This was true when he was at the top of his game, and it is still true as he enters his twilight years. This is his story…

GROWING UP

Kevin Maurice Garnett was born on May 19, 1976, in Greenville, South Carolina; a small town located about 80 miles northwest of the capitol city of Columbia. (Click here for a complete listing of todays sports birthdays.) Kevin’s mother, Shirley, was not married to his biological father, O’Lewis McCullough, so she looked after the infant and his older sister, Sonya, on her own.

Caring for two children wasn’t easy, and things got more complicated when a sister, Ashley, arrived. Shirley worked two jobs, one at a local plant and another as a hair stylist. O’Lewis, who remarried and started a new family, helped out with child support payments.

The Garnetts lived in a mostly black section of Greenville known as Nickeltown. Personable and outgoing, Kevin had plenty of friends there, and lots of relatives, too. Among them was cousin Shammond Williams (who would go on to star at the University of North Carolina). Williams informed Kevin that O’Lewis’s parents, Odell and Mary McCullough, owned a home a few blocks from the Garnetts. Kevin was intrigued by this revelation, and Shirley—who had shunned contact with the senior McCulloughs—finally took her son to see his grandparents.

Though Kevin’s father was not a constant presence in his life, he did have a major influence in one way. As a teenager, O’Lewis was a gifted hoops player. The captain of the basketball team at Beck High School in the mid-’70s, he was nicknamed “Bye Bye 45” because he wore number 45 and regularly blew by opponents of the fast break. A dominant center in the world of small-town basketball, O’Lewis was snubbed by big-time colleges because he stood only 6-4. After graduating from high school, he joined the Army and played in local basketball leagues. That’s when he and Shirley began dating.

O’Lewis’s talent rubbed off on Kevin, who became infatuated with basketball and fantasized about of making it to the NBA. His first idol was Magic Johnson, the All-Star point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers. Kevin practiced around the clock to become the next Magic.

For Kevin, the basketball court also served as a refuge when life got tough. So hooked on the game was Kevin that sometimes he would sneak out of his bedroom window in the dead of night to go to a nearby playground.

Without O’Lewis in the picture, Kevin craved a “real” father—preferably one who, like his biological dad, liked basketball. Shirley married when Kevin turned seven, but her new husband, Ernest Irby, had no interest in sports.

Even as Kevin showed signs of developing into a basketball phenom, Shirley and Ernest demanded that he study hard in school and earn good grades. She was a practicing Jehovah’s Witness and taught her children the tenets of her religion. That meant that the Garnetts ignored holidays like Halloween and Christmas. (Kevin, in fact, was 19 before he celebrated Christmas for the first time.)

Soon after his 12th birthday, Kevin and his family moved a short ride away to Maudlin. There, on Basswood Drive, he was befriended by a group of kids who shared his love for basketball. His best friend was Jamie “Bug” Peters. The two became so close that they told people they were brothers.

As a kid, Kevin usually matched up against players who were bigger, older and stronger. Playing against more experienced competition motivated him to improve. He got his first taste of organized ball in 1991 as a freshman at Maudlin High School. Though still raw, Kevin averaged 12.5 points, 14 rebounds, and seven blocks a game.

The following summer, he joined an AAU team coached by Darren Gazaway. Kevin impressed Gazaway with his work ethic and team-first attitude. The teenager would typically head directly for the playground after a practice to work on something he had just learned. In games, he derived as much joy from blocking a shot or throwing a good outlet pass as he did from dunking over someone.

By his sophomore season at Maudlin, Kevin was performing at such a high level that his coach, James Fisher, barely recognized him. He moved around the court with tremendous poise, could play with his back to the basket and sometimes triggered and finished the same fast break. Regardless of his position, Kevin always took control of the action. He wore jersey number 21, the same as Malik Sealy of St. John’s. He had seen the star forward during the season and immediately identified with his versatility and unselfishness on the floor.

As Kevin’s star rose, his commitment in the classroom wavered. He didn’t always apply himself, particularly in courses that required large amounts of reading. When school administrators offered to provide extra tutoring, Kevin refused. He was certain that NBA riches awaited him.

Nothing during Kevin’s junior year at Maudlin dissuaded him from that dream. He poured in 27 points, pulled down 17 rebounds, and swatted seven shots a game. Along the way, he led the Mavericks to the state championship and was named South Carolina’s Mr. Basketball, making him the first junior in state history to be so honored.

In May of 1994, however, Kevin’s life began to crumble around him. A fight broke out at school between a white student and several black classmates, and Kevin happened to be nearby. (This version of the story has been questioned since. One report indicates that Kevin was part of a group of black students who beat a white freshman with rolled-up newspapers. The victim suffered injuries that required hospital care.)

When the police showed up, they arrested everyone in the vicinity. Kevin was charged with second-degree lynching, and then was released on bail. The story made headlines across the state. Kevin’s once sterling reputation was trashed.

Just as he had done when he was a kid, Garnett retreated to the basketball court for solace. He received more distressing news, however, when a longtime friend named Eldrick Leamon was hit by a car and died from his injuries. Shaken by Leamon’s death, Kevin worked even harder on his game.

Kevin’s mother suspected her famous son would be hung out to dry in the swirl of racism, local politics and headline-grabbing triggered by the charges leveled at him. She was looking for a way out of South Carolina, and ultimately Kevin’s basketball would be their ticket.

That summer, Kevin starred for his AAU team, leading the squad to victory in the prestigious Kentucky Hoopfest. His performance there helped earn him an invitation to a Nike summer camp, where he competed against some of the best teenagers in the country. During the week, he struck up a friendship with Ronnie Fields, who played for Farragut High School in Chicago. Knowing Kevin’s situation, Fields suggested that he come to the Windy City for his senior season.

Shirley and Ashley accompanied Kevin on the trip north. In Chicago, rumors persisted that he transferred to Farragut because of academic problems at Maudlin. The story became national news when ESPN did a piece on it. Kevin scoffed at the suggestion, explaining that with all the negative attention back in South Carolina, he simply wanted a fresh start.

The new environment also provided Kevin with the opportunity to take his game to another level. Chicago produced some of the best high school players in the country; hence Farragut would provide Kevin with his first exposure to regular top-flight competition. His coach, William Nelson, planned to let his newest player showcase his full range of talents.

ON THE RISE

With Kevin and Fields leading the way, Farragut was a force to be reckoned with. The first big test for the Admirals came in December against the Vashon Wolverines at the Coca-Cola/KMOX Shootout in the St. Louis. In front of 12,926 at the Kiel Center, Farragut overcame a sloppy first half to win 58-55.

Seated among the crowd were coaches from national powerhouses such as Michigan, Illinois, and Kentucky. A host of NBA scouts were in attendance, too. Kevin had a solid 3.8 GPA since transferring to Farragut, but he had yet to pass the ACT, which threw his NCAA eligibility into doubt—and made him a strong possibility for the upcoming pro draft.

Kevin led Farragut to the state championship, but shortly thereafter—despite attending special classes designed to improve his test-taking skills—he failed to score the requisite 17 on the ACT, which made him in eligible for college play. Though Kevin wanted to go to school, the NBA was looking more and

During the first weekend of April, Kevin was in St. Louis for the McDonald’s All-American game. He joined Vince Carter, Paul Pierce, Ron Mercer, Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Stephon Marbury for the 18th annual classic. Kevin was particularly happy to see Marbury, who had made contact with him the summer before after hearing about his legal troubles. From there, they ran up huge monthly phone bills, talking about everything from girls to hoops to video games. Playing against his buddy, Kevin keyed the West squad’s 126-115 victory with 18 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks. He walked away with the John Wooden Award as the game’s outstanding player.

Speculation about whether Kevin was ready for the NBA gained momentum when USA Today named him its national Player of the Year. If he opted for the draft, experts predicted he would be selected in the middle of the first round. Many compared him to Moses Malone, who signed with the Utah Stars of the American Basketball Association as a 19-year-old in 1974, then moved on the NBA, where he enjoyed a Hall of Fame career.

On April 9, Kevin took the ACT for the fourth time. He had a month left to decide whether he would enter the NBA draft. With that deadline looming and still awaiting his scores, Kevin hired agent Eric Fleisher to help him sort out his options. The teenager sizzled in a private workout, and two weeks later Fleischer arranged a press conference during which Kevin announced that he was going pro.

Kevin was the wild card in the 1995 NBA draft. College stars Joe Smith, Antonio McDyess, Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace were more polished players and safer picks. But Kevin’s potential—he stood close to seven feet and had a guard’s feel for the game—was hard to overlook.

Kevin McHale, the new vice president of basketball operations for the Timberwolves, was among those intrigued by the kid. Minnesota owned the fifth selection and was looking to shake things up after six straight sub-.500 seasons since coming into the league. The T-Wolves had never even won 30 games in a single campaign. When Smith, McDyess, Stackhouse and Wallace went one through four as expected, McHale grabbed Kevin.

After Kevin was drafted by the T-Wolves, he got a call from his high school coach. He had scored 970 on the SAT, which meant that he would have been eligible to play in college.

Kevin agreed to a three-year, $5.6 million deal. With McHale’s blessing, he invited a couple of childhood friends from South Carolina to live with him in a two-bedroom apartment and rented another pad for his mother. He also found a pair of parental figures in Grammy-winning record producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. After spotting the two in a mall, he “adopted” them as surrogate fathers. The three remain close today.

Kevin’s rookie season was a learning experience that began in training camp. Two-a-day practices under coach Bill Blair were much more taxing than anything he had ever encountered. According to McHale’s plan, Blair wasn’t going to rush Kevin along. He used the rookie off the bench to spell forwards Christian Laettner and Tom Gugliotta.

The first half of Kevin’s rookie season was more tumultuous than McHale wanted it to be. With the team performing far under expectations, he fired Blair and replaced him with Phil "Flip" Saunders. A college teammate of McHale’s and a two-time CBA Coach of the Year, Saunders injected new life into the T-Wolves. In Laettner’s mind, however, Saunders directed a little too much attention Kevin’s way. When the former Duke star popped off to the press, he forced McHale’s hand. Laettner was traded away in the second half.

Laettner’s departure created an opportunity for Kevin. He had been scoring six points and pulling down four rebounds a game. After the All-Star break, Saunders started using him more and Kevin responded. Over one 10-game stretch, he averaged nearly a double-double while shooting better than 50 percent from the floor. By year’s end, Kevin had boosted his season averages to 10.4 points and 6.3 rebounds, good enough to earn him a spot on the NBA All-Rookie Second Team. Though the T-Wolves finished 26-56, the year was considered a success. Their record was the second-best in team history, and Kevin was already exhibiting the earmarks of a young NBA superstar.

In the 1996 draft, McHale hoped to find a complimentary player for Kevin. Marbury, who had just completed a remarkable freshman season at Georgia Tech, was an interesting option. His explosiveness off the dribble was startling, and his range from the outside was excellent. Kevin lobbied hard for Minnesota to take his phone pal. On draft day, McHale arranged a deal with Milwaukee which made Ray Allen a Buck and Marbury a T-Wolf.

The 1996-97 season was a revelation for Minnesota fans. The team improved by 14 games, going 40-42 and making the playoffs for the first time. Gugliotta topped the squad in scoring and rebounding, Doug West provided valuable leadership, but Kevin and Marbury were the big stories. The chemistry between the two energized the franchise.

Kevin, still several months shy of his 21st birthday, served notice that he was ready to assume a leadership role in training camp. He chewed out center Stojko Vrankovic for banking in a layup instead of throwing down a dunk, letting his teammates know it was time to start asserting themselves. Kevin also led by example. Through the first three months, he was doing it all, averaging nearly 15 points, nine rebounds, three assists, and three blocks. Though slowed in December by a sprained ankle, he was named to the Western Conference’s All-Star squad. He was the youngest to play in the contest since his idol, Magic Johnson, in 1980.

Kevin and Marbury were also making headlines as a duo. Their inside-outside presence drew comparisons to Utah’s Kevin Malone and John Stockton. As Minnesota prepared for its opening-round playoff match-up against the Houston Rockets, people wondered whether the young pair could engineer an upset. But the T-Wolves crashed back to earth, as Charles Barkley and company swept them in three games. Afterwards, the veteran pulled Kevin aside and told him to keep his head up.

Despite the first-round exit, the ’96-97 campaign was a major step for Kevin. He thrived under his increased workload, raising his production in every statistical category. Kevin was clearly the special franchise player Minnesota needed.

The question was whether the franchise was willing to pay for him. NBA rules allowed Kevin to request a contract extension, but he shocked the basketball world by turning down a six-year deal at $102 million.

Kevin maintained it was smart business. As a free agent, big-market teams like the Lakers and Knicks would wave even more lucrative, multi-faceted deals at him. McHale ultimately agreed and inked Kevin for $18 million more than his original offer. The $120 million was more than the estimated value of T-Wolves, marking the first time am athlete in a major sport was owed more by his team than the team was worth.

Overnight, the pressure on the third-year star intensified. Vilified as a poster boy for greed and selfishness, Kevin was now expected to win and win big. McHale, a member of the great Celtic teams of the 1980s, knew it wasn’t that simple: a star needs complimentary players and a deep supporting cast. He surrounded Kevin and Stephon with veteran role players, including newcomers Tom Hammonds and Terry Porter. They meshed with returnees Chris Carr, Sam Mitchell and Tom Gugliotta to form a solid nucleus.

After an up-and-down start, the T-Wolves won 14 of 16 to put them on track for a return to the postseason. Gugliotta was elevating his game to star status, giving the T-Wolves their coveted third go-to guy, and the team was getting solid contributions from reserve centers Stanley Roberts and Cherokee Parks. In January, Kevin led the Timberwolves to a franchise-record seven victories in a row. He notched his first career triple-double against the Denver Nuggets, going for 18 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. Kevin also became the first player in franchise history to start in the All-Star Game.

Behind Kevin, the T-Wolves continued to surge in the second half, despite a season-ending knee injury to Gugliotta. McHale traded for Anthony Peeler, who replaced some of the lost scoring punch, and Minnesota ended the regular season at 45-37. At 18 ppg, 9.6 rpg and 4.2 apg, Kevin was the primary reason for the franchise’s first winning campaign. He broke the team’s single-season records for rebounds (786), point/rebound double-doubles (45) and minutes played (3,222).

The next challenge was a postseason duel with the Seattle Supersonics. Earlier in the year, the T-Wolves had snapped a 26-game losing streak to the Sonics on the strength of eight three-pointers by Marbury. But the franchise’s overall record versus Seattle was a dismal 4-32. Minnesota reversed history by winning two of the first three games. Then Gary Payton caught fire, and the Sonics escaped in the best-of-five series.

Kevin had a long time to think about Minnesota’s collapse. A lockout by the NBA owners—triggered in no small part by the enormity of Kevin's contract—suspended the start of the following season until January 1999.When the dispute was finally settled, the T-Wolves featured a different look. Gugliotta left for Phoenix via free agency, and McHale replaced him with Joe Smith, one of the four players chosen before Kevin in the 1995 draft.

More changes would come. Most notable was the trade of Marbury, who had grown increasingly unhappy, playing in the shadow of Kevin’s contract. It was a three-way deal with the New Jersey Nets and Milwaukee. In which Minnesota received two draft choices and point guard Terrell Brandon, a skilled playmaker who, like Marbury, could score from the perimeter.

The season’s late start and short schedule prevented the T-Wolves revolving-door roster from meshing as McHale had envisioned. The team split its 50 games and was ousted in the first round of the playoffs by the San Antonio Spurs, the eventual NBA champs.

Kevin Garnett,

1995 Upper Deck Collector's Choice

For his part, Kevin enjoyed another stellar year, increasing his output for the fourth straight season. Despite missing three games with the flu (which snapped an ironman streak of 181 in row), he led the Timberwolves in scoring (20.8 ppg), rebounds (10.4 rpg), and double-doubles (25).

Kevin’s effort earned him a spot on the All-NBA Third Team—not to mention the Dream Team, joining the likes of Tim Duncan, Jason Kidd and Vince Carter. He traveled with the U.S. Olympic squad to Puerto Rico in July for a three-game tournament, where he thrilled fans with his enthusiasm off the court and his performance on it. The Americans won all four of their games easily and qualified for the 2000 Summer Games in Australia.

Kevin looked forward to the 1999-2000 season. Brandon would be in uniform all year, and rookie forward Wally Szczerbiak was deemed NBA-ready by most scouts. When Minnesota got off to a rocky start, Saunders fiddled with the lineup until he found the right chemistry. His most inspired move was promoting bench player Malik Sealy—picked up during the 1998-99 campaign—to the starting lineup in December. Sealy, one Kevin’s favorite players a kid and now one of his best friends, proved the missing ingredient.

Kevin led the T-Wolves to three wins Christmas week and was named the NBA Player of Week. The day after receiving that award, he scored 26 points and hauled down a franchise-record 23 rebounds against the Orlando Magic. Kevin started for the Western Conference in the All-Star Game for the second year in a row and tallied 24 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.

The T-Wolves were rolling toward their first 50-win season when on May 20, Sealy was killed in an early-morning traffic accident by a drunk driver. Kevin was devastated. Emotionally drained, he and his teammates couldn’t get past the Portland Trailblazers and bowed out of the postseason’s first round once again.

Kevin’s final stats served as a tribute to his fallen friend. He became just the ninth player in league history to average at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, posting career-highs in all three categories. Kevin also showed greater range from the outside, shooting 37% from the beyond the arc. To no one's surpise, he was selected to the All-NBA First Team and the All-Defensive First Team.

After the season, Kevin refocused his energies as Team USA gathered in Hawaii for a series of workouts before flying to Australia for the Olympics. In Sydney, he didn’t waste a minute of his time. Kevin walked in the Opening Ceremonies, took a trip the Australian Wildlife Park, and formed friendships with several foreign athletes in the Olympic Village.

Come the hoops tournament, the Americans advanced to the medal round without much problem. Then, after dispatching Russia by 15 points, the Dream Team beat Lithuania in a nailbiter, 85-83. In the battle for gold, they faced France. The contest stayed close deep into the second half until the U.S. pulled away and cruised to a 10-point victory. Kevin, whose 9.1 rpg topped the competition, celebrated like he had just won the lottery.

MAKING HIS MARK

The jubilation of Olympic gold helped erase the pain of Sealy’s death. When the T-Wolves struggled early in the 2000-01 campaign, however, Kevin became frustrated. He was doing his part, averaging more than 24 points and 11 rebounds, but Brandon, Peeler, and Szczerbiak were all performing inconsistently. Newcomer Chauncey Billups couldn’t get into gear, either.

Minnesota began to turn things around in December, with Kevin as the catalyst. A trend was developing for the T-Wolves—they played their best not when Kevin was their top scorer, but when he did all the little things. Consequently, he passed up scoring opportunities to involve his teammates more. By February, the T-Wolves moved back near the top of the standings in the Midwest. Minnesota finished at 47-35, drawing the Spurs in the playoffs. Despite a strong series from Kevin, the team failed to advance past the first round.

Kevin Garnett, 1999 Sports Illustrated

Kevin’s final numbers for the season (22 ppg , 11.4 rpg, 5 apg, 1.37 spg and 1.79 bpg) placed him in elite company. He also extended his double-figure scoring streak to 291 games, the 11th-longest string in NBA history. But another quick departure from the playoffs grated on Kevin. Fans and the media now wondered aloud about his ability to lift those around him.

When the 2001-02 season started, not much had changed with the T-Wolves. Because of an illegal deal struck the prior year by team owner Glen Taylor, Minnesota had been stripped of four first-round draft choices. Saunders tried to shake things up by moving Kevin to small forward, Smith to power forward and Szczerbiak to off-guard. Brandon, slowed by an assortment of injuries, would share duties at the point with Billups, a former lottery pick still trying to find his way in the NBA.

The new lineup paid dividends, aand Minnesota broke from the gate at 18-8. Kevin looked great. In the season opener against Milwaukee, he went for 25 points and 21 rebounds. In November, he torched the Los Angeles Clippers for 30 points and 19 rebounds. Against the Sacramento Kings in early December, he pulled down a franchise-record 25 boards and nailed a pair of treys in the final 30 seconds to send the contest into OT. Two days later, he victimized the Clippers again, hitting a game-winner at the buzzer. In back-to-back games versus Houston and Indiana, he swatted away six and seven shots.

By moving away from the basket, Kevin was causing all sorts of match-up problems for opponents. He could knock down the jumper, put the ball on the floor and see open teammates that smaller players couldn’t. In April, Kevin set a new mark by being named Player of the Month for the fourth time that year.

Though an injury ended Brandon’s season in February, Billups held his own and the T-Wolves managed to post another 50-win season. Kevin was the difference. For the third year in a row, he was a 20-10-5 guy, including career-highs in rebounds (12.1) and assists (5.2). Voted All-NBA Second Team, NBA All-Defensive First Team, and All-Interview First Team, he had established himself as one of the league’s marquee players.

The 2002 postseason was supposed to be Kevin’s coming-out party. But the festive atmosphere turned sour with a disappointing series sweep by the Dallas Mavericks. Kevin played well enough—including a 31-point, 18-rebound effort in Game 2—but it wasn’t nearly enough. Amid the ruins of another first-round exit, Magic Johnson was among those who questioned Kevin’s ability to lead a team at crunch time, saying he tended to disappear in the final minutes when his team needed him to take charge.

The criticism stung Kevin. Even McHale told him that he needed to be more aggressive, on offense and defense. Kevin reacted by embarking on his toughest offseason training regimen ever. He convened with a nutritionist, worked with a personal trainer, and also got into yoga. Kevin arrived for training camp lean and mean.

After the 2002-03 season’s first few months, it was clear that Kevin had had taken the words of McHale and Magic to heart. He wasn’t just playing better and more assertive basketball; he was imposing his will on opponents and taking over games when he sensed they were at a turning point.

Kevin increased his intensity on the defensive end, too. In January, he registered five steals against the Rockets and then blocked five shots against the Toronto Raptors. In the All-Star Game, he claimed MVP honors in a double-OT victory by the West.

With the Lakers playing unevenly, the conference was up for grabs. But all was not well in Minnesota. Injuries plagued Szczerbiak, and new additions Troy Hudson and Kendall Gill had not fit in as well as expected. Kevin managed to hold everyone together, and the T-Wolves continued to roll. Fans, writers and broadcasters began talking about him as the MVP.

Kevin remained a frontrunner for the award in the campaign’s final months. Three times he posted double-figures in assists, and he was named April's NBA Player of the Month. The T-Wolves ended with a record of 51-31, the best in franchise history. Starting all 82 games, Kevin put up career highs in scoring (23.0), rebounds (13.4), assists (6.0) and minutes (40.5). By going 20-10-5 for the fourth year in a row, he joined Larry Bird as the only two players in league history to achieve this feat. When it came time for the MVP balloting, he finished a close second to Tim Duncan. Basketball Digest, however, named him its Player of the Year.

For all his great work, Kevin still couldn’t get Minnesota past the post-season’s opening round; not that he didn’t play well. For most of the series, won by the Lakers in six games, Kevin was the best player on the floor. Minnesota was actually up two games to one until LA reeled off three straight. Kevin was lauded for his effort, but the praise was of little consolation.

McHale sprung into action for the 2003-04 campaign, trying again to find the right supporting cast around Kevin. His two biggest acquisitions were point guard Sam Cassell and swingman Latrell Sprewell. He also plugged Michael Olowokandi in at center. Reserves Fred Hoiberg and Mark Madsen were

The moves paid huge dividends, particularly Cassell and Sprewell. Besides giving the T-Wolves two viable scoring options—which allowed Kevin to focus even more on his defense and rebounding—the pair of veterans added dimension to the team’s performance. Cassell, a proven winner, worked the pick and roll with Kevin like they’d been practicing for years. And Sprewell left everything on the floor, every minute of every game, and refused to back down. The result was 58 wins and the top record in the West.

Kevin was hands-down the league’s best player. In fact, he won the MVP in a landslide, taking 120 of 123 first-place votes. Named to the All-Defensive First Team for the fifth consecutive season, he was also the only unanimous selection to the All-NBA First Team. Kevin pulled down his first NBA rebounding title, and when he finished atop the league in total points scored, he became the first player in 29 years to achieve that double.

Kevin was sensational from opening night to the conclusion of the regular season. In December against the Mavs, he recorded one of his two triple-doubles with a season-high 35 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. His next (20 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists) came in January at Golden State. He went for 22 points and 24 rebounds in February against the Kings, and a month later he handed out the 3,000th assist of his career. After a brilliant April, Kevin was pumped for the postseason.

Up first for Minnesota was Denver and lights-out rookie Carmelo Anthony. Kevin didn’t want to mess around with the upstart Nuggets. It helped to have playoff-savvy veterans like Cassell and Sprewell on the floor with him. Aside from a hiccup in Game 3 on the road, the T-Wolves took care of business, with Cassell exploding for 40 in Game 1 and Sprewell leading the club in scoring in the next two contests. Kevin topped Minnesota in rebounding all five games and averaged just under 30 points a night.

For Kevin, advancing to the second round produced a mixture of elation and relief. But those feelings were quickly forgotten when Minnesota dropped Game 1 at home to the Sacramento Kings. Kevin seizond control two days later to get the T-Wolves back on track with a 94-89 victory. Then he played a monster game in Sacramento to re-establish homecourt advantage for his team. In the heart-stopping 114-113 win, he netted 30 and grabbed 15 rebounds.

The Kings won two of the next three to force Game 7 in the Target Center. In the most pressurized contest of his life—and the biggest game in franchise history—Kevin showed his championship colors. But his stat line (32 points, 21 rebounds, five blocks and four steals) didn’t begin to tell the story. Kevin logged 46 spell-binding minutes, providing energy and leadership every step of the way. With the game on the line in the fourth quarter, he scored 10 in a row. He then deflated the Kings with a drive and dunk on Chris Webber and a dramatic rejection of a Mike Miller shot with seconds to go.

Minnesota's rousing playoff push came to an end against the Lakers in the Conference Finals. With Shaquille O'Neal having his way in the paint and Karl Malone smelling his first NBA title, LA flexed more than enough muscle to contend with Kevin. It didn't help when Cassell went down with a bad back. After dropping Game 1 on their home floor, the T-Wolves bounced back with a victory. But the Lakers responded with three victories in the next four to eliminate Minnesota.

The excitement of the 2004 playoffs did not carry over to the following season. Although Szczerbiak stayed healthy and played well, Sprewell, Cassell and Hudson failed to mesh and the team struggled to stay above .500. Kevin played in all 82 games, led the league with 13.5 rebounds a game, and was tops among NBA frontcourt men with 5.7 assists. He was named First Team All Defense and led the NBA with 69 double-doubles—including 19 in a row. He also set a new personal scoring high with 47 points in a game against the Phoenix Suns. It was all for naught, however, when Minnesota concluded its schedule with 44 wins and got edged out of the Western playoffs for the first time since the 1990s.

More bad news arrived in the summer of 2005 when both Cassell and Sprewell flew the coop, and the T-Wolves struggled to replace them. Hudson was not the answer, especially after an ankle injured ended his season early. Szczerbiak was shipped out of town, traded midyear for Ricky Davis. Kevin, meanwhile, received no consistent support, and the team descended into mediocrity. He sat out the final nine games with a sore knee, and the T-Wolves lost seven times. Their 33 wins left them out of the playoffs once again in 2005–06. Kevin had another great season, leading the NBA in rebounding for the third year in a row. Again, however, it wasn't enough.

The 2006-07 edition of the T-Wolves offered little in the way of improvement or even inspired play. Kevin was often the first guy in the gym and the last to leave on practice days. Sometimes he felt like the only guy on the team trying. Most nights, basketball just wasn’t fun anymore for him. The T-Wolves had clearly crested. They no longer had the multidimensional upside players whom Kevin could make better. Making matters worse, the team’s #1 pick in the draft, Brandon Roy, had been shipped to Portland, where he immediately blossomed into the NBA’s Rookie of the Year. The T-Wolves limped home to a 32-win season.

After the final buzzer of that dreary campaign, McHale, Taylor and the T-Wolves faithful finally seemed ready to face a difficult fact: to get better, they would have to deal the 31-year-old face of their franchise. Minnesota asked for the moon, and the Celtics answered. Boston GM Danny Ainge, foiled by the bouncing balls of the lottery, bit the bullet and gave up seven players for KG—Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair, Gerald Green, Theo Ratliff and a pair of draft picks. The Celtics then signed Kevin to a three-year extension that would keep him in green for five seasons in all.

Kevin joined Paul Pierce and newly acquired Ray Allen to form one of the NBA’s biggest Big Threes ever, especially given the constrictions of the modern salary cap. The trio ate up all but 25 percent of the team’s budget, leaving little to stock the bench and even less margin for error (or injury).

Kevin knew he was in the right place after just a few practices with Boston. He went back a long way with both Pierce and Allen. Kevin lived with Pierce’s family during an AAU tournament in LA. He also played with Allen at a youth event in South Carolina.

Pierce and Allen proved to be as dedicated to training and practice as Kevin, and like him, they each had exactly one sniff of the Conference Finals and nothing to show for it. The trio entered the 2007-08 season determined to return Boston to the top of the East. They did just that, as the Celtics went 66-16 and secured homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs.

The key to Boston's resurgence was a renewed commitment on the defensive end. Coach Doc Rivers convinced his troops that there was no other way to win the NBA championship. Kevin led the charge. He clogged the lane, cleaned the glass and used his quick hands to create turnovers. For his efforts, he was named the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year.

Kevin also contributed on offense, averaging 18.8 points a game on .539 shooting. He scored the 20,000th point of his career in March, becoming just the 32nd player in league history to do so. More often than not, however, he was happy to let Pierce and Allen take over when the Celtics had the ball. At times, Kevin was actually knocked for his team-first attitude. Some in the media said he needed to carry a bigger load for Boston to be successful. As the Celtics continued to pile up the victories, he brushed aside the criticism.

The playoffs opened for Boston against the pesky Atlanta Hawks, who pushed the series to seven games. The Celtics took the decider on their home floor in a 99-65 rout. But fans questioned whether Boston was tough enough to advance any further. The Hawks won all three games in Atlanta and exposed the Celtics' shortcomings in the halfcourt offense.

Kevin made a statement in Game 1 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, scoring 28 points and dominating inside. Again, however, the Celtics could not muster a victory away from Boston. They held on for a 97-92 win in Game 7, but the doubters grew louder. Kevin was among their targets. Too often, they said, he settled for the outside jumper. For the Celtics to become a championship club, he would have to be more forceful around the basket.

To his credit, Kevin listened to his critics and adopted a more aggressive style of play. Against the Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals, he was a monster. Detroit simply had no answer for Kevin. He controlled the boards on defense and took the ball hard to the rim. Kevin scored better than 20 points a game and got to the foul line more than twice as much as he did against the Cavs. The Celtics closed out the Pistons in six games and prepared to meet the Lakers in the NBA Finals.

It was more of the same for Kevin against Los Angeles. He presented serious matchup problems for the Lakers and pressed his advantage on the glass. Kevin averaged 13 boards a game, which fueled Boston’s transition game. The Celtics won three of the first four contests, and then captured the 17th title in franchise history in Game 6 in Boston. Kevin scored 26 in the finale and pulled down 14 rebounds. As the final buzzer sounded, he knelt down and kissed the leprechaun at center court. Again and again, he screamed, "Top of the world!"

For the first time in his career, Kevin found himself having to defend a championship in 2008–09. The season started well. He was voted into the All-Star Game for the 12th year in a row and was averaging close to a double-double. But in mid-February, he sprained his right knee while trying to complete an alley-oop against the Jazz. Kevin would play in just four more games that season, logging 57 in all before being shut down with a bone spur in the back of the knee. Without their big man, the Celtics still made the playoffs, but lost to the Magic in the second round.

The 2009–10 edition of the Celtics featured the Big Three, plus a much-matured Rajon Rondo. Kevin was part of a front line that blended experience and youth, with Rasheed Wallace, Kendrick Perkins and Glen “Big Baby” Davis. Kevin played in 69 of the team’s 82 games, leading the club in rebounds and finishing fourth in scoring at 14.3 points per game. He averaged under 30 minutes a contest for the first time since his rookie year, but he was still rated one of the best overall defenders in the league. This despite playing much of the year in tremendous pain as he regained the strength in his knee. There were some days when it looked as if Kevin was through. He was dragging his right leg and had problems getting off the floor for rebounds.

The Celtics finished atop the division with 50 victories, but they were given little chance of getting past the Cavaliers in the playoffs. Kevin thought differently, He was playing better than at any time in the season.

The Celtics first had to get past the Heat, which they did in five games. Kevin concentrated most of his effort on defense and rebounding. He made a clutch jumper in the waning moments of Game 3, which Pierce later won with a buzzer beater. Otherwise Boston had little problem overcoming Miami.

Next came LeBron and the Cavs. After Cleveland won the opener 101–93, many experts were predicting a sweep. The Celtics looked helpless as they were overwhelmed in the second half. But two nights later, Boston wiped out the Cavs on their home floor, 104–86. Kevin scored 18 and added 10 rebounds, while Wallace hit for 17. Rondo, meanwhile, had the best game of his career, dishing out 19 assists. Suddenly, fans were reevaluating the series. Rondo had established himself as the most dynamic player in the series and Boston’s new leader. And the Celtics proved they had a huge edge along the front line.

The series became a war when it moved to Boston. The Cavs blew out the Celts in the Garden, renewing speculation that Kevin and his teammates were too old and too slow. But Rivers made some key adjustments in Game 4, and Rondo notched a triple-double in a 97–87 win. Several times in the fourth quarter, James passed up opportunities to seize control of the game. Cleveland fans were dismayed by this development—and completely flabbergasted in Game 5, when their superstar basically disappeared in another blowout by the Celtics. This time, the Big Three dominated, with Kevin hitting for 18 and Allen raining three-pointers down on the Cavs.

Kevin had another superb game in Game 6, as the Celtics closed out the Cavs. He led the team with 22 points and 12 rebounds, and created havoc in the blocks all night long. Boston won 94–85 to advance to the Conference Finals.

There they met the Magic. Kevin and his teammates handled Dwight Howard in the first two games in Orlando and won both by a total of seven points. Kevin’s fourth-quarter corner fadeway over Howard in Game 2 sealed the Magic’s fate. Game 3, in Boston, was a 94–71 laugher.

The Magic didn’t roll over. They won the next two games to force the Celtics into a corner,. If they didn’t win Game 6 at home, they would have to play Game 7 in enemy territory. The Celtics opened an early lead but their spirits sank when Rondo was fouled hard and had to leave the game with a back injury. Nate Robinson exploded off the bench for two clutch three-pointers. The Magic, meanwhile, couldn’t buy a trey. Boston won 96–84 to advance to the NBA Finals.

Against the Lakers, Kevin, Rasheed Wallace, Glenn "Big Baby" Davis and Kendrick Perkins faced a stiff challenge in the form of a big, mobile front line.  They held their own, taking the lead in the series after winning Game 5. But a knee injury to Perkins left the Celtics at a disadvantage, and Los Angeles pounded the ball inside to win Game 6 easily.  Kevin played gallantly in Game 7, but the Lakers wore down the Celts. LA spent the fourth quarter at the foul line and won 83–79.

Rajon Rondo, 2009 Upper Deck

In terms of who is “The Man” in Boston, Kevin could care less—especially now that he has his NBA championship. If Pierce, Allen and Rondo share this view, and all four stay out of street clothes, the Celtics could be poised for another run at history ... and guarantee Kevin a spot beside Bill Russell, Dave Cowens, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish as one of the franchise’ all-time great big men.

KEVIN THE PLAYER

In the NBA, where match-ups are everything, Kevin has been a one-man nightmare for most of his career. He moves with quickness and power around the basket, his medium-range turn-around jumper is accurate and virtually unpreventable, and he can also hit from long range if left open. He can station himself in the low post, fill the lane on the break or bring the ball up as point guard. Regardless of who’s checking Kevin, they will inevitably find themselves at a disadvantage. He has always been adept at the pick and roll. Paired with either Pierce or Allen in Boston, he continued to thrive in the halfcourt game.

In the past, opponents had goaded Kevin into trying to do things that were outside his repertoire. Never one to back down from a challenge, he often played into their hands. Today he is smarter and more mature. He sees the floor and understands the game. Now Kevin is the player making other guys do things they can’t. Though slowed by injury and losing a few inches on his vertical, he has made up for this by maximizing the considerable skill that remains.

Kevin’s defense and rebounding are ferocious. His quick feet and long arms enable him to guard men down low or out on the floor. He hits the boards extremely well at both ends and is a superb shot-blocker. One of the key adjustments Kevin made with Celtics was learning how to keep rebounds alive even when he could not control them. Many older players simply don't try for balls they can’t tear out of the air. “Not trying” has never been a part of Kevin's vocabulary. 

Kevin has all the attributes of a leader who teammates gladly follow. He also knows when to share those duties when younger players show they are ready. With the Celtics, Kevin found perfect playing partners in Pierce—a slasher—and Allen, a smooth perimeter player known for stretching the defense. With Kevin on the blocks, many fans have feel as if they are reliving the Bird-McHale-Parrish days.

Source: JockBio.com

This week's celebrity pick is the awesome actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger
Category: Celebrity Pick
Tags: arnold schwarzenegger celebrity pick awesome actor word lfie production new quality entertainment

Arnold Schwarzenegger was born on July 30, 1947, near Graz, Austria. He rose to fame as the world's top bodybuilder, launching a career that would make him a giant Hollywood star. After years of blockbuster movie roles, Schwarzenegger went into politics, becoming governor of California in 2003. In 2012, he returned to his acting career, starring with Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone in the film The Expendables 2. Within just one week, the movie had climbed to the No. 1 spot at the box office, bringing in nearly $28.6 million.

Early Years

Arnold Schwarzenegger was born on July 30, 1947, near Graz, Austria. Schwarzenegger's childhood was far from ideal. His father, Gustav, was an alcoholic police chief and one-time member of the Nazi Party, who clearly favored Arnold's brother over his gangly, seemingly less athletic younger son.

Gustav is reported to have beaten and intimidated Arnold and, when he could, pitted his two boys against one another. He also ridiculed Schwarzenegger's early dreams of becoming a body builder. "It was a very uptight feeling at home," Schwarzenegger later recalled. So uptight and uncomfortable, in fact, that Schwarzenegger would later refuse to attend the funeral of his father, who died in 1972, or his brother, who was killed in a car crash in 1971.

As an escape, Arnold turned to the movies, in particular Reg Parker, a body builder and star in B-level Hercules movies. The films also helped propel Schwarzenegger's own obsession with America, and the future he felt awaited him there. Getting to his new country was the issue. Schwarzenegger found his answer in Joe Weider, the man behind the International Federation of Body Building, an organization that sponsored contests such Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia.

Weider loved Schwarzenegger's bravado, sense of humor, and the potential he saw in the young body builder. Weider's instincts couldn't have been more dead-on. In all, Schwarzenegger would win an unprecedented five Mr. Universe titles and six Mr. Olympia crowns during his bodybuilding career.

Equally significant, Schwarzenegger, who had immigrated to the United States in 1968, helped propel the sport into the mainstream, culminating in the 1977 documentary, Pumping Iron, which tells the tale of Schwarzenegger's defense of his Mr. Olympia crown.

Making it in Hollywood

Since his first foray to the local movie house in his hometown of Graz, Arnold had dreamed of making it big in Hollywood. With his ascension to the top of the bodybuilding world, it was only a matter of time before he'd move over to the big screen.

After acting in a few small parts, Schwarzenegger received a Golden Globe Award for Best Newcomer for his performance in Stay Hungry (1976). With his intense physical strength and size, Schwarzenegger was a natural for action films. He became a leading figure in several popular 1980s action movies, including Conan the Barbarian (1982). Schwarzenegger also starred as a deadly machine from the future in The Terminator (1984). The science-fiction drama spawned two sequels—Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003).

Off-screen he continued his remarkable story, marrying into the Kennedy family by tying the knot with Maria Owings Shriver, daughter of Eunice Kennedy Shriver and her husband R. Sargent Shriver.

Schwarzenegger's American story sounded improbable, except to those who knew him. "This is a man of bottomless ambition," said George Butler, producer and director of Pumping Iron, in a 2003 interview. "It's always been there ... He sees himself as mystically sent to America."

The 'Governator'

In 2003, Schwarzenegger again showed his resolve to succeed when he threw his hat into the ring for the California governor's race and won a seat in a special election. In a state that was mired in severe budget woes, the newly elected Republican governor promised to bring economic stability to his adopted state.

As expected, Schwarzenegger brought his own unique brand of confidence to his new job. "If they don't have the guts, I call them 'girlie-men,'" he said of Democrats, early in his first term. "They should go back to the table and fix the budget."

Still, as governor, Schwarzenegger worked to improve the state's financial situation, promote new businesses, and protect the environment. In 2006, he easily won his bid for re-election. Throughout his career, Schwarzenegger has credited former U.S. President Ronald Reagan as a personal inspiration. Remembering his early years in the United States, Schwarzenegger once said, "I became a citizen of the United States when [Reagan] was president, and he is the first president I voted for as an American citizen. He inspired me and made me even prouder to be a new American."

His second term in office did not run as smoothly, however. Schwarzenegger struggled to help the state through difficult financial times. After leaving office in January 2011, he sought to revive his career in the entertainment industry. In March of that year, Schwarzenegger announced plans to work with famed comic book creator Stan Lee on a new animated series inspired by his time in office.

Only a few months after leaving office, Schwarzenegger made another announcement. He and Maria Shriver made their decision to separate public in May. The news followed Schwarzenegger's acknowledgement that he'd fathered a baby with a member of the family's household staff. Schwarzenegger and Shriver have four children: Katherine, Christina, Patrick, and Christopher.

Recent Publicity

In 2010, Schwarzenegger starred alongside Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone in the film The Expendables. In August 2012, he reunited with the film's cast for a follow-up film, The Expendables 2. Just one week after the film's premiere, it had climbed to the No. 1 spot at the box office, bringing in nearly $28.6 million.

Schwarzenegger made headlines again later in 2012, when he admitted for the first time to having an affair with his Red Sonja co-star, actress Brigitte Nielsen, in the mid-1980s—while he was dating and living with Maria Shriver, whom he later married. Nielsen had written about the adulterous relationship in her 2011 memoir, You Only Get One Life, but Schwarzenegger didn't publicly confirm Nielsen's account until the fall of 2012, when his memoir, Total Recall, was published.

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This week's celebrity pick is the beautiful Tichina Arnold
Category: Celebrity Pick
Tags: tichina arnold celebrity pick word life production feature weekly blog

Born in New York in 1971, actress Tichina Arnold was well known for her role as Pam James, opposite Martin Lawrence, on the sitcom Martin. After Martin, Arnold made guest appearances on The Jaime Foxx Show and Soul Food. In 2005, she landed a starring role as Rochelle, a tough mom of three, on Everybody Hates Chris. In addition to acting, she ran a company called China Moon Rags, making bejeweled bandannas.

Early Life and Career

Tichina Rolanda Arnold was born on June 28, 1971, in Queens, New York. A veteran performer of stage, film and television, Arnold may be best known for her comedic roles as Pam James on the sitcom Martin, and Rochelle Rock, one of television's toughest mothers, on Everybody Hates Chris.

Attending Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in New York City, Arnold began acting at an early age. In 1986, while still in her teens, she made her New York film debut in Little Shop of Horrors. From there, she worked on two soap operas: Ryan's Hope (1987-89) and All My Children (1989-90).

'Martin'

Making the move to primetime in 1992, Tichina Arnold landed a supporting role on the sitcom Martin, a showcase for stand-up comedian Martin Lawrence. She played Pam James, a friend of Gina Waters (played by Tisha Campbell), on the series; Lawrence played radio talk show host Martin Payne, who was dating Waters. The show lasted for five seasons.

Sitcom Career

After Martin, Arnold made guest appearances on The Jaime Foxx Show, Norm and Soul Food among others. She also had roles in several films, including Big Momma's House (2000), which reunited her with Lawrence. In 2001, Arnold began a recurring role on the sitcom One on One as Nicole Barnes, the ex-wife of the lead character Mark "Flex" Washington played by Flex Alexander.

On Everybody Hates Chris, which debuted in 2005, Arnold landed another starring role. The popular family sitcom was created by comedian Chris Rock, who drew from his own experiences growing up as an African-American kid living in a rough neighborhood who was bussed to an all-white school in the 1980s. The role of Chris Rock was played by Tyler William James and the comedian himself provided the voice over for the series.

Tichina Arnold played the bossy, strict Rochelle Rock, mother of three and wife of Julius, played by Terry Crews. Despite her somewhat prickly nature, Arnold kept the family going in face of financial difficulty and a hostile living environment as Rochelle. Arnold won a NAACP Image Award for her work on the series in 2005. The show chronicling the life of a young Chris Rock ended in 2009.

Arnold has since found work on yet another sitcom as Judi Mann, the friend of lead actress Fran Drescher, on the series Happily Divorced (2011).

Other Endeavors

In addition to acting, Arnold operates a company called China Moon Rags, which makes and sells bejeweled bandannas. A resident of Los Angeles, she has a daughter named Alijah Kai.

© 2014 A+E Networks. All rights reserved.

BRUNCH WITH SPOKEN WORD-POLITICKING WITH TODAY’S GUEST, “RIKKINELL” Tags: rikki nell tv cultural awarness word life production brunc with spoken word

It is such an honor to chat with Rikki today. Rikki and Nell are the founders of RikkiNell.com which began in 2010. They started RikkiNell TV to be able to network with others that know and understand the importance of unity within the “so called” Black (Melanin) Community. Their passion is to give knowledge regarding our history as well as give tools for the future. Their goal is to let others know how important it is to know thyself. There are but few people within the black community today that understand the importance of education and cultural awareness. Rikki and Nell both do, and we commemorate them on their efforts in pushing forth such knowledge back into black communities throughout the world. Please check out some of the educational groups they promote on their website which include metaphysics and spirituality, natural hair, healing herbs and spices, and healthy eating. Please check them out at: http://rikkinell.com . Also, you can watch RikkiNell TV every Monday all day on Word Life Production Online Television Network. www.wordlifeproduction.spruz.com or www.wordlifeproduction.com

Rikki, thank you so very much for joining me today!! Now one of the things that interest me the most about you is the fact that you are motivated to educate people on topics that are not often promoted in the black community in certain parts of the world. In my opinion, it is very important to know thyself. What or who inspired you to promote awareness?  While Nell and I were studying a few years ago regarding metaphysics, Kemet, health, and other topics, we were finding it more and more difficult to find resources to feed our hunger for knowledge.  This is the main reason why we decided to start an online community because we knew that we were not alone and that others felt the same way.  We want to provide a place where we can learn from one another to grow to higher heights.

Could you tell some of our viewers the importance of cultural awareness and the benefits behind it? It is like the Ghanaian saying, Sankofa, which means to move forward, you need to return to your roots.  With cultural awareness, we are able to learn from our past, grow from it, and move forward.  This also benefits our children so they can be confident within themselves and live a life without limitations.

 

I totally agree with that. What I’ve learned about my culture has definitely enlightened me enough to totally change my life. It also left me hungry for more. The sad part is that much of what I learned was in college.  African American history was not an accredited history at the college I attended. It should because it plays a major role in the establishment of the USA. In fact other cultures in this country should be required to take it as well.  What do you think we in the black community could do to improve our educational system? If you are talking about the public educational system, I do not think this is a place for our children, period.  How can we improve a “system” which is designed to teach our children to be mainly corporate slaves.  Nell and I home-school our children but meet up with different families in the community so our sons and daughters can learn different topics that are not common in the mainstream school.  Now I understand we do live a society that for many families, homeschooling is not going to happen.  In this case, I think that we as a community can improve our children’s education by teaching the importance of a entrepreneurial spirit, gardening, carpentry, sacred geometry, and more topics which are not typically learned in school.  This should be done in small settings so children can get the attention they need. 

Interesting. I have a few people that home school their kids. Although my kids attend school, my husband and I are very strict on education and we make sure that they know the importance of education as well. I do remember my oldest son attending a school that had stapled books for reading. Then once we were able to get him into a better school, there were laptops and the whole nine. Now I know that you are familiar with Lyndon Johnson and the things that he accomplished while serving as President of the United States. One of the things that Lyndon Johnson established was the Head-Start Program which was founded back in 1965 as a summer program for kids in order to prepare them for public school in the fall. It would later become an all year program. When the government passed a bill on budget cuts in the US educational system, after over forty years the head start programs was one of the first to go. What are your thoughts on that?  Head Start was intentionally set up to meet emotional, psychological, and nutritional needs of children while at the same time preparing them before they go to kindergarten.  Black children are enrolled in these pre-kindergarten programs at a higher rate than White children (Flores, G,; Tomany-Korman, S.; & Olson, L. (2005), Does Disadvantage Start at Home? Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health-Related Early Childhood Home Routines & Safety Practices. Archives of Pediatric Adolescence, 158, pp 158-165) which will definitely make a huge effect on our community if this program ends.  The sad thing about it is that many families are dependent on this program.  On the flip-side, did this program actually work for our children and their families? Some say it did, others say it did not.  I truly believe in self dependency.  Even though the program could have seem something positive, we as a people should know that anything given to us by anybody, can be taken away.

 

That is so true. I’ve also heard from some that it did not work as well as it did. I was a part of the head start program. We learned a lot. I’ve watched them with other kids in the past and the program seemed helpful. However, in the last few years I heard some complaints about what the kids were learning there, and that some were not prepared for Kindergarten. Now the Head-Start Program ended right in the middle of the school year. The parents were asked to stop bringing the kids for a few weeks until they were able to secure funding. However the government would later go on to provide proposed funding. What advice could you give parents who were affected by this bill?  I would say that this would be a prime time for parents to use their gifts and nurture their children the best way they can.  We can depend on ourselves.  Parents can partner with other families they trust and maybe even work out a schedule with them to ensure children are being taught and taken care of. 

 

That’s great advice!! Back in 1989, KRS-One started the stop the violence movement in response to the violence in hip hop and the Black communities. This was a stepping stone to advance a vision of hip hop’s original principles to the music industry. In the last few years there has been a rise in the number of black homicide victims. What do you think could be done today to restore those same principles established during the stop the violence movement back into hip hop and the black community? Great question! We should support artists who truly have messages that ignite the brain to think and empower the spirit.  Parents, we should cut the TV off for a while.  There is not a whole lot of good on there anyway.  This will allow families to do more productive things together and be more in tuned within themselves and with one another. We should also show genuine love to one another.  Love conquers hate. 

 

I love the way you put that. I must say that your network is totally inspiring to me, so I must ask what you hope to achieve in the next five years. I see myself with more knowledge, wisdom, and overstanding.  I also see myself being more spiritually enlightened and my thirst for growth heightened.

 

I’m utterly amazed at how well you stay committed to your goal to enlighten the black community. I know that it can be exhausting from time to time. What gives you the drive to continue working towards your goal? When a person comes to me and mentions that they were able to learn something which helped them on their journey, that moves me tremendously.  My children give me motivation because I want them to be strong and courageous within themselves. They should be proud of who they are and show the next generations to come these principles and much much more.

 

I would just like to say that I’ve enjoyed our conversation today. I’m very glad that you took the time out to chat with me. Thank you so much!! Could you please give us the links to where fans can follow you? The pleasure is truly mine for having this conversation with you and I am truly honored being here.  The community can check us out on RikkiNell.com.  We have other links but we are rarely there. LOL!  Best place is to check out our site. Thanks again, and I look forward to chatting with you again in the near future!

 
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