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Jazz Legend - Sonny Rollins
Category: Voices of Jazz
Tags: jazz legend sonny rollin word life production new quality entertainment featured blog

Theodore Walter Rollins was born on September 7, 1930 in New York City. He grew up in Harlem not far from the Savoy Ballroom, the Apollo Theatre, and the doorstep of his idol, Coleman Hawkins. After early discovery of Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong, he started out on alto saxophone, inspired by Louis Jordan. At the age of sixteen, he switched to tenor, trying to emulate Hawkins. He also fell under the spell of the musical revolution that surrounded him, Bebop.

He began to follow Charlie Parker, and soon came under the wing of Thelonious Monk, who became his musical mentor and guru. Living in Sugar Hill, his neighborhood musical peers included Jackie McLean, Kenny Drew and Art Taylor, but it was young Sonny who was first out of the pack, working and recording with Babs Gonzales, J.J. Johnson, Bud Powell and Miles Davis before he turned twenty.

“Of course, these people are there to be called on because I think I represent them in a way,” Rollins said recently of his peers and mentors. “They’re not here now so I feel like I’m sort of representing all of them, all of the guys. Remember, I’m one of the last guys left, as I’m constantly being told, so I feel a holy obligation sometimes to evoke these people.”

In the early fifties, he established a reputation first among musicians, then the public, as the most brash and creative young tenor on the scene, through his work with Miles, Monk, and the MJQ.

Miles Davis was an early Sonny Rollins fan and in his autobiography wrote that he “began to hang out with Sonny Rollins and his Sugar Hill Harlem crowd…anyway, Sonny had a big reputation among a lot of the younger musicians in Harlem. People loved Sonny Rollins up in Harlem and everywhere else. He was a legend, almost a god to a lot of the younger musicians. Some thought he was playing the saxophone on the level of Bird. I know one thing–he was close. He was an aggressive, innovative player who always had fresh musical ideas. I loved him back then as a player and he could also write hisbutt off…”

Sonny moved to Chicago for a few years to remove himself from the surrounding elements of negativity around the Jazz scene. He reemerged at the end of 1955 as a member of the Clifford Brown-Max Roach Quintet, with an even more authoritative presence. His trademarks became a caustic, often humorous style of melodic invention, a command of everything from the most arcane ballads to calypsos, and an overriding logic in his playing that found him hailed for models of thematic improvisation.

It was during this time that Sonny acquired a nickname,”Newk.” As Miles Davis explains in his autobiography: “Sonny had just got back from playing a gig out in Chicago. He knew Bird, and Bird really liked Sonny, or “Newk” as we called him, because he looked like the Brooklyn Dodgers’ pitcher Don Newcombe. One day, me and Sonny were in a cab…when the white cabdriver turned around and looked at Sonny and said, `Damn, you’re Don Newcombe!” Man, the guy was totally excited. I was amazed, because I hadn’t thought about it before. We just put that cabdriver on something terrible. Sonny started talking about what kind of pitches he was going to throw Stan Musial, the great hitter for the St. Louis Cardinals, that evening…”

Chuck UPright

In 1956, Sonny began recording the first of a series of landmark recordings issued under his own name: Valse Hot introduced the practice, now common, of playing bop in 3/4 meter; St. Thomasinitiated his explorations of calypso patterns; and Blue 7 was hailed by Gunther Schuller as demonstrating a new manner of “thematic improvisation,” in which the soloist develops motifs extracted from his theme. Way Out West (1957), Rollins’s first album using a trio of saxophone, double bass, and drums, offered a solution to his longstanding difficulties with incompatible pianists, and exemplified his witty ability to improvise on hackneyed material (Wagon Wheels, I’m an Old Cowhand). It Could Happen to You (also 1957) was the first in a long series of unaccompanied solo recordings, and The Freedom Suite (1958) foreshadowed the political stances taken in jazz in the 1960s. During the years 1956 to 1958 Rollins was widely regarded as the most talented and innovative tenor saxophonist in jazz.

Rollins’s first examples of the unaccompanied solo playing that would become a specialty also appeared in this period; yet the perpetually dissatisfied saxophonist questioned the acclaim his music was attracting, and between 1959 and late `61 withdrew from public performance.

Sonny remembers that he took his leave of absence from the scene because “I was getting very famous at the time and I felt I needed to brush up on various aspects of my craft. I felt I was getting too much, too soon, so I said, wait a minute, I’m going to do it my way. I wasn’t going to let people push me out there, so I could fall down. I wanted to get myself together, on my own. I used to practice on the Bridge, the Williamsburg Bridge because I was living on the Lower East Side at the time.”

sonnyonthebridgefixedWhen he returned to action in early `62, his first recording was appropriately titled The Bridge. By the mid 60’s, his live sets became grand, marathon stream-of-consciousness solos where he would call forth melodies from his encyclopedic knowledge of popular songs, including startling segues and sometimes barely visiting one theme before surging into dazzling variations upon the next. Rollins was brilliant, yet restless. The period between 1962 and `66 saw him returning to action and striking productive relationships with Jim Hall, Don Cherry, Paul Bley, and his idol Hawkins, yet he grew dissatisfied with the music business once again and started yet another sabbatical in `66. “I was getting into eastern religions,” he remembers. “I’ve always been my own man. I’ve always done, tried to do, what I wanted to do for myself. So these are things I wanted to do. I wanted to go on the Bridge. I wanted to get into religion. But also, the Jazz music business is always bad. It’s never good. So that led me to stop playing in public for a while, again. During the second sabbatical, I worked in Japan a little bit, and went to India after that and spent a lot of time in a monastery. I resurfaced in the early 70s, and made my first record in `72. I took some time off to get myself together and I think it’s a good thing for anybody to do.”

In 1972, with the encouragement and support of his wife Lucille, who had become his business manager, Rollins returned to performing and recording, signing with Milestone and releasing Next Album. (Working at first with Orrin Keepnews, Sonny was by the early ’80s producing his own Milestone sessions with Lucille.) His lengthy association with the Berkeley-based label produced two dozen albums in various settings – from his working groups to all-star ensembles (Tommy Flanagan, Jack DeJohnette, Stanley Clarke, Tony Williams); from a solo recital to tour recordings with the Milestone Jazzstars (Ron Carter, McCoy Tyner); in the studio and on the concert stage (Montreux, San Francisco, New York, Boston). Sonny was also the subject of a mid-’80s documentary by Robert Mugge entitled Saxophone Colossus; part of its soundtrack is available as G-Man.

He won his first performance Grammy for This Is What I Do (2000), and his second for 2004’s Without a Song (The 9/11 Concert), in the Best Jazz Instrumental Solo category (for “Why Was I Born”). In addition, Sonny received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in 2004.

In June 2006 Rollins was inducted into the Academy of Achievement – and gave a solo performance – at the International Achievement Summit in Los Angeles. The event was hosted by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg and attended by world leaders as well as distinguished figures in the arts and sciences.

Rollins was awarded the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art, First Class, in November 2009. The award is one of Austria’s highest honors, given to leading international figures for distinguished achievements. The only other American artists who have received this recognition are Frank Sinatra and Jessye Norman.

In 2010 on the eve of his 80th birthday, Sonny Rollins is one of 229 leaders in the sciences, social sciences, humanities, arts, business, and public affairs who have been elected members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. A center for independent policy research, the Academy is among the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honorary societies and celebrates the 230th anniversary of its founding this year.

In August 2010, Rollins was named the Edward MacDowell Medalist, the first jazz composer to be so honored. The Medal has been awarded annually since 1960 to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to his or her field.

Yet another major award was bestowed on Rollins on March 2, 2011, when he received the Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama in a White House ceremony. Rollins accepted the award, the nation’s highest honor for artistic excellence, “on behalf of the gods of our music.”

Sonny Rollins and President Barack Obama, White House, March 2, 2011d

Sonny Rollins and President Barack Obama, White House, March 2, 2011

Since 2006, Rollins has been releasing his music on his own label, Doxy Records. The first Doxy album was Sonny, Please, Rollins’s first studio recording since This Is What I Do. That was followed by the acclaimed Road Shows, vol. 1 (2008), the first in a planned series of recordings from Rollins’s audio archives.

Mr. Rollins released Road Shows, vol. 2 in the fall of 2011. In addition to material recorded in Sapporo and Tokyo, Japan during an October 2010 tour, the recording contains several tracks from Sonny’s September 2010 80th birthday concert in New York—including the historic and electrifying encounter with Ornette Coleman.

On December 3, 2011 Sonny Rollins was one of five 2011 Kennedy Center honorees, alongside actress Meryl Streep, singer Barbara Cook, singer/songwriter Neil Diamond and cellist Yo-Yo Ma.   Rollins said of the honor, “I am deeply appreciative of this great honor. In honoring me, the Kennedy Center honors jazz, America’s classical music. For that, I am very grateful.”

The saxophonist’s most recent CD is Road Shows, vol. 3 (Doxy/Okeh/Sony).  Rollins is currently time off from performing and planning to record again in 2015.

Source: Official Website

John Legend on the Art of Soul
Category: The Art of Soul
Tags: john legend art soul word life production new quality entertainment featured blog

Singer-songwriter John Legend won his first Grammy Award with 2004's Get Lifted. The album went platinum, thanks in part to the hit single "Ordinary People."

 “I come from a city where 40 percent to 50 percent of our kids drop out of high school. I did well in high school and then went to an Ivy League school, but I was the exception. We need to do more to make sure every kid has a quality education.”

—John Legend

John Legend was born on December 28, 1978, in Springfield, Ohio. He became an in-demand session musician and songwriter, working with such artists as Alicia Keys, Twista and Janet Jackson. He was soon introduced to up-and-coming hip-hop artist Kanye West, and the two musicians collaborated on one another's demos. Legend's debut album, 2004's Get Lifted, won three Grammy Awards. He released his collaboration with the Roots, Wake Up!, in 2010. Legend also appeared on the TV competition Duets as a coach in 2012.

Long before earning a famous reputation as a multiple Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, John Legend was born John Roger Stephens on December 28, 1978, in Springfield, Ohio. A child prodigy, Legend's grandmother taught him how to play the piano, and he grew up singing in the church choir. He went on to attend the University of Pennsylvania, where he directed a coed a cappella group. After graduation, he switched gears and worked for Boston Consulting Group but continued to perform in nightclubs in New York City.

Legend became an in-demand session musician and songwriter, working with such artists as Alicia Keys, Twista and Janet Jackson. He was soon introduced to up-and-coming hip-hop artist Kanye West, and the two musicians collaborated on one another's demos.

Legend's debut album, 2004's Get Lifted, went platinum thanks in part to the hit single "Ordinary People," a song that he originally penned for the Black Eyed Peas. He went home with three Grammy Awards for Get Lifted: for best R&B album, best R&B male vocal performance and best new artist. Legend's sophomore effort, Once Again, was released in 2006.

Legend's musical talent has made him a mainstream star. In 2006, he performed at Super Bowl XL in Detroit, the NBA All-Star Game, and the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Pittsburgh. He soon released several new albums, including Evolver (2008). Evolver featured "Green Light," a collaboration with André 3000. This song proved to be a modest hit, and the album itself reached the top of the R&B/hip-hop charts. That same year, Legend stepped in front of the cameras. He had a supporting role in the 2008 comedy Soul Men, starring Bernie Mac and Samuel L. Jackson.

In 2010, Legend released Wake Up!, which he recorded with the Roots. The album received raves from music critics and tackled tunes made famous by the likes of Marvin Gaye and Nina Simone. The Curtis Mayfield-penned "Hard Times" was one of the record's main singles; another hit, "Shine," Legend's own composition, earned him a Grammy Award. He and the Roots also won a Grammy for best R&B album in 2011.

Legend tried his hand at reality television with the singing competition Duets during the summer of 2012. He worked alongside Kelly Clarkson, Robin Thicke and Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland. The musical stars coached and performed with the contestants on the show. Later that year, Legend contributed a new track to Quentin Tarantino's 2012 film Django Unchained.

Outside of music, Legend is involved in numerous social and charitable causes. He is a supporter of the Harlem Village Academies, a New York City organization that runs several charter schools. Legend serves as a vice chairman on the HVA board. He explained to Black Enterprise magazine why education is such an important issue to him. "I come from a city where 40 percent to 50 percent of our kids drop out of high school. I did well in high school and then went to an Ivy League school, but I was the exception. We need to do more to make sure every kid has a quality education."

Source: Biography.com http://www.biography.com/people/john-legend-201302#recent-projects

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

Gospel Legends - The Canton Spirituals Tags: gospel legends canton spirituals word life production new quality entertainment featured blog

For many listeners, the word "gospel" conjures the sound of large African-American Southern choirs singing  joyous songs of celebration.  These  choirs began singing  traditional spirituals and  later evolved  into close knit, small groups that were the blueprint for doo-wop groups (All Media Guide).  However,  the Canton Spirituals have become more than a doo-wop group.  The Canton Spirituals are often described  an accomplished gospel quartet  that has paved the way for many gospel groups and singers.  Founded in  Canton, Mississippi,  the original group included the songwriter and singer, Harvey Watkins, Sr., who began to sing in the group at the age of fourteen, and the other original members: Eddie Jackson, Theo Thompson, and  Roscoe Lucious  (Mississippi Almanac 1997-1998).The Canton Spirituals has remained  the number one  gospel music quartet in the country.  They represent the best of the past and present in gospel music (i music).

The current lead singer, Harvey Watkins, Jr. has been singing and performing with the group since he was a young child.  Watkins attributes his interest in  music to his parents.  Watkins's  father and mother are still  the most important persons in his life.  Since The Canton Spirituals'  founding, they have been through heartaches and pains and many people have left the group.   Presently,  The Canton Spirituals members (Wallace Strickland, Victor Allen, Ralph Loften, Michael Richardson, Merlin Lucious, Cornelius Dwayne Watkins, and  Rufus Mapp)  are under the direction of Harvey Watkins, Jr.,  since the passing of his father, Harvey Watkins, Sr.,who died of cancer in Jackson, Mississippi, on November 16, 1994.  Harvey Watkins, Sr., until his death,  was the only original member with the Canton Spirituals  (Mississippi Almanac 1997-1998).  In the city of Canton, Watkins's  song- writing skills, music and legacy will remain an important part of not just the city of Canton's history, but America's history also.

In July 1994, Watkins received a Legend Award at the Mississippi Gospel Music Awards.  During the same month, Second  Street in Canton, Mississippi,  was renamed Harvey Watkins, Sr., Street  in his honor (Mississippi Almanac 1997-1998).  The Canton Spirituals have always kept  God as the cornerstone of their life and music.  Their music, according to one source, reflects the "heart"and "soul" of this rich genre and is perhaps the primary reason why they have such a loyal following (i music).  The Canton Spirituals have received numerous awards due to their dynamic and melancholic music.

In Harvey Watkins' hometown of  Canton, Mississippi, The Canton Spirituals received a Concurrent Resolution 557 in February from the Mississippi  Legislature during their 1998 Regular Session honoring them for receiving two Stellar Awards at the 1997 Stellar Gospel Music Awards and for being the only gospel quartet in America and the only Mississippi gospel artist to achieve such honors (Blackmon).  The Canton Spirituals have also received the 1998 Excellence Award for Quartet of the Year-Traditional and LP of the Year- Traditional (Mississippi Almanac 1997-1998).  The Canton Spirituals have also won Group/Duo of the Year and Traditional group/duo at the thirteenth annual Stellar Awards (gospelcity).  Their album, Live in Memphis I, received a Grammy nomination.  They appeared at the awards show in April 1994.  Live in Memphis I was also the longest running album on Billboard's Gospel Music Chart as of November, 1994 (Mississippi Almanac 1997-1998).

They are currently a part of the Gloryland's Gospel Music Top 15 Quartet Albums - 1st half of December, 1998 (geocities).   Other awards and accomplishments include numerous Stellar, GMWA, Excellence, Dove, Soul Train, Urban Network Awards, and several Grammy Award nominations (i music).  The Canton Spirituals put their heart and soul into their music.  Listeners can only wonder if this is what contributes to their rising success.  The Canton Spirituals have become loved and admired not only because of their ability to sell their music, but also to sing gospel effectively, change lives and people's views on life, and, most importantly,  spread the story of Jesus and the things he does for them and what he can do everyone else.

Source: Mississippi Canton Spirituals

             By Clarissa L. Nolen (SHS)

Public Enemy - Classic Hip Hop Legends
Category: Classic Hip Hop
Tags: public enemy classic hip hop legends word life production new qualtiy entertainment featured blog

In the late Eighties, Public Enemy introduced a hard, intense, hip-hop sound that changed the sound of hip-hop. PE's inventive production team, the Bomb Squad, tailored a unique, noisy, layered avant-garde-inspired sound that incorporated sirens, skittering turntable scratches, and cleverly juxtaposed musical and spoken samples. The group features two vocalists with wildly different styles: Lead rapper Chuck D, who delivers anti-establishment rhymes in a booming, authoritarian voice, and his sidekick/jester, Flavor Flav, who broke in with taunts, teases, and questions.

The members of Public Enemy came together at Adelphi University on Long Island, where Carlton Ridenhour studied graphic design and worked at student radio station WBAU. There he met Hank Shocklee (future brainchild of the Bomb Squad) and Bill Stephney (future Def Jam executive), and the trio became fast friends, talking philosophy, politics, and hip-hop late into the night. After rapping over a track Shocklee had created, "Public Enemy No. 1," Ridenhour started appearing regularly on Stephney's radio show as Chuckie D. Def Jam cofounder Rick Rubin heard a tape of the rap and started calling Ridenhour.

At first the rapper shunned Rubin, feeling he was too old to begin a career as an entertainer. But he eventually came up with an elaborate plan that involved Shocklee as producer, Stephney as marketer, and DJ Norman Rogers on the turntables. He recruited his Nation of Islam cohort Richard Griffin to, as Professor Griff, coordinate the group's backup dancers, the Security of the First World (S1W), whose members carried fake Uzis and did stiff, martial-arts moves as a parody of Motown-era dancers. Ridenhour enlisted old friend William Drayton, who, as Flavor Flav, would act as a foil to Chuck D's more sober character.

Calling themselves "prophets of rage," Public Enemy released their debut album, Yo!, Bum Rush the Show, in 1987. A more sophisticated version of early East Coast gangsta rappers like Boogie Down Productions or Schoolly D, the group at first went nearly unnoticed except by hip-hop insiders and New York critics. The second album, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, took the pop world by storm. Reaching Number 42 (Number 1 R&B, 1988), it was immediately hailed as hip-hop's masterpiece and eventually sold a million copies. Nation contained the minor hit "Bring the Noise" (Number 56 R&B, 1988), which foreshadowed Public Enemy's knack for controversy, with Chuck D calling Black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan a prophet. Having referred to rap as "CNN for black culture," he castigates white-controlled media in "Don't Believe the Hype" (Number 18 R&B, 1988).

In May 1989, just after the group released "Fight the Power" (Number 20 R&B, 1989), the theme song for Spike Lee's film Do the Right Thing, Professor Griff, who had previously made racist comments onstage, dropped a verbal bomb. In an interview with the Washington Times, he said Jews are responsible for "the majority of wickedness that goes on across the globe." Public Enemy leader Chuck D responded indecisively, first firing Griff, then reinstating him, then temporarily disbanding the group. When Griff then attacked his band mates in another interview, he was dismissed permanently. Chuck D responded to the fiasco by writing "Welcome to the Terrordome" (Number 15 R&B, 1990), a ferociously noisy track in which the rapper asserts, "they got me like Jesus." That lyric fanned the coals of controversy yet again, with Chuck D himself being branded an anti-Semite.

Public Enemy followed with its first Top 10 album, Fear of a Black Planet (Number 10 pop, Number Three R&B, 1990), which explored the nature of white racism in songs like "Burn Hollywood Burn" and "911 Is a Joke" (Number 15 R&B, 1990), and called on African-Americans to unite in "Brothers Gonna Work It Out" (Number 20 R&B, 1990) and "War at 33 1/3." By the end of 1990, DJ Terminator X had left for a solo career, followed by the exits of Bomb Squad members Shocklee and Stephney.

But Public Enemy's momentum only accelerated. Upon its release in 1991, Apocalypse 91 shot to Number Four (Number One R&B), spawning the hits "Can't Truss It" (Number 50 pop, Number 9 R&B, 1991) and "Shut Em Down" (Number 26 R&B, 1992). Greatest Misses reached Number 13 (Number 10 R&B) in 1992 and was criticized for its unexciting remixes. The same year, Public Enemy teamed up with thrash-metal band Anthrax for a successful update of "Bring the Noise" and a joint tour. They also opened for U2's Zoo TV Tour.

Public Enemy returned in 1994 with Muse Sick-N-Hour Mess Age, which included lyrics critical of the fast-rising gangsta-rap genre and its frequent glorification of violence, drugs, and money. But, like those of other older rap artists, the album debuted fairly high on the chart only to quickly fall in sales (Number 14 pop, Number 4 R&B, 1994).

Beginning in 1991, Flavor Flav had some run-ins with the law. That year, he was convicted of assaulting his girlfriend and served a 20-day jail sentence. In 1993, he was charged with attempted murder when he allegedly shot at a neighbor in a domestic squabble; he chose to undergo drug rehabilitation, and the charges were dropped.

By 1996, Chuck D founded the Sony-supported Slam Jamz rap label, created the Rapp Style clothing company, and released his first solo album, The Autobiography of Mistachuck. The following year he published a book, Fight the Power: Rap, Race and Reality, and soon reconvened the original lineup of Public Enemy to record the soundtrack album to Lee's 1998 film He Got Game. The project brought the group renewed visibility: The album reached Number 26 (Number 10 R&B), while the title track hit Number 78 on the R&B singles chart and won regular rotation on MTV. Chuck D closed the '90s as a typically outspoken champion of Internet distribution of music, even making Public Enemy's 1999 album There's a Poison Goin' On available first as a low-cost download.

During the 2000s, PE members stayed visible, with Chuck D lecturing on the college circuit and hosting a talk radio show and Flava Flav becoming a reality TV superstar with Flavor of Love. The group found time to put out four studio albums; none sold well but each was strong in its own way — especially Rebirth of a Nation, a collaboration with producer-rapper Paris, whose hammering beats sound straight out of 1990, and How You Sell Soul to a Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul?, which featured a heavier, more expansive sound.

Portions of this biography appeared in The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (Simon & Schuster, 2001). Evan Serpick contributed to this article.

Source: Rolling Stone

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