The Timberwolves picked the 6-11 phenom from Farragut Academy (Chicago) with the fifth pick in the 1995 draft. Garnett became the first player to jump directly from high school to the NBA since Darryl Dawkins and Bill Willoughby in 1975. Garnett sparked a trend, as prep stars Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady and LeBron James, among others, would follow in subsequent years before the NBA instituted an age restriction for the draft in 2005.
2 of 13Getty Images
The Big Ticket made his regular-season debut Nov. 3, 1995, as the NBA's youngest player. The 19-year-old hit all four of his field goal attempts and finished with eight points in 16 minutes off the bench in a 95-86 loss to Sacramento.
3 of 13AP
Garnett signed a six-year, $126 million contract with the Timberwolves on Oct. 1, 1997, at the time the richest multiyear package in team sports history.
4 of 13Robert Beck/SI
One consequence of Garnett's megadeal: It hastened the breakup of the promising KG-Stephon Marbury pairing. Marbury was supposed to be the longtime complement to Garnett in Minnesota after being acquired in a draft-night trade in 1996, and the two delivered immediately by leading the Timberwolves to their first playoff berth in '97. The good vibes didn't last long. In March 1999, Marbury, reportedly uncomfortable playing for much less money than Garnett, was traded to New Jersey in a three-team deal that brought Terrell Brandon to Minnesota.
5 of 13Walter Iooss Jr./SI
Another consequence of Garnett's megadeal: It hastened changes to league rules. The NBA emerged from the lockout that delayed the start of the 1998-99 season with a new collective bargaining agreement that called for maximum salaries and a wage scale for rookies. (Garnett, however, did just fine in his first post-lockout deal: five years, $100 million.)
6 of 13Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Garnett had his ups and downs with another sidekick, swingman Wally Szczerbiak. Garnett once took a swing at his teammate after a practice in 2000, but the two also combined forces in leading the Wolves to four 50-win seasons from 1999-2004. Szczerbiak was traded to the Celtics in January 2006, then shipped to Seattle as part of the Ray Allen trade in June 2007.
7 of 13Manny Millan/SI
Garnett was the second-leading scorer in the 2000 U.S. Olympic team, which won eight consecutive games en route to the gold medal in Sydney.
8 of 13Robert Beck/SI
For all his individual brilliance, Garnett endured repeated playoff disappointments in the Twin Cities. The Wolves lost in the first round a record seven consecutive seasons beginning in 1996-97. They finally broke through in 2004 when a team featuring Garnett and first-year Wolves Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell reached the Western Conference finals before losing to the Lakers. Minnesota failed to make the playoffs in the three seasons since that postseason run.
9 of 13Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Garnett was named MVP of the 2003 All-Star Game after collecting 37 points, nine rebounds and five steals in the West's 155-145 double-overtime victory.
10 of 13John Biever/SI
Garnett added more hardware to his collection when he was selected as the 2004 NBA MVP, finishing three first-place votes short of being a unanimous winner. That year Garnett became the fifth player to lead the league in both total points and rebounds.
11 of 13John Biever/SI
Garnett and the Timberwolves reached the conference finals in 2004, the first advancement for KG after six consecutive first-round exits. But Minnesota lost to the Lakers in six games, after which Garnett and Co. endured three consecutive playoff-less seasons.
12 of 13Bob Rosato/SI
Coming off a 32-50 season in 2006-07, the Wolves shifted into full-scale rebuilding mode by dealing Garnett to the Celtics for young players and draft picks. Teaming with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, Garnett helped engineer the biggest turnaround in NBA history as the Celtics jumped from 24 to 66 victories. Garnett also won the 2007-08 Defensive Player of the Year award.
13 of 13John W. McDonough/SI
Garnett and the Celtics survived three tough playoff series to reach the 2008 Finals, the franchise's first time in the championship round since 1987. Kobe Bryant and the Lakers awaited the Celtics in a renewal of the NBA's premier rivalry.
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