Kevin Garnett's name is synonymous with playing tough defense, being elite offensively, and talking trash to get pumped. That combination of abilities made KG one of the greatest players in the history of the NBA, but there is one man that did those things better than him, he just happens to be the greatest player of all time.
Michael Jordan is arguably the most complete player of all time, he was fearless on both ends of the court. And while he came every night with a locked-in mindset, someone talking trash to him almost instantly allowed him to elevate his game to put them in their place. Jordan thrived whenever he felt slighted, and this made the perfect recipe for some testy exchanges with Garnett.
KG came into the league in 1995, the year Jordan returned from his first retirement. So his first few years in the league involved watching MJ dominate again as the Bulls completed another three-peat. And in one of his first battles with Jordan, Garnett talked trash to MJ and learned why it didn't pay to make the GOAT mad, a story he recounted on 'All The Smoke' with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson and one that Jordan still reminds him of to this day:
“One of my favorite MJ story is… Well, I’m playing right, but JR is having a good game. So as we come out the timeout, I was just like, ‘Yo keep killing that n***a’, you killing that n***a’.”
"So as I’m walking off, that n***a is right here, Mike can hear me. But I don’t really give a f**k, so I doubled down. ‘Yeah, keep killing that n***a yo, you killing that motherf**ker.’ So as I say that, I feel it. Hands on hips, legs locked, he just stared at me for like 15 seconds.”
"I can’t even really describe the next 6-7 minutes of play y’all. We down 25 now, it was just at 2. Mike had 18, he got like 40 now. I come to the joint, I was like, ‘JR, my bad man, I’m sorry. He said, ‘It’s cool, man, I told you to shut your a** up.’ Mike came down, ‘Okay, young fella, okay okay, y’all done? Damn, young fella. Okay, okay.’”
There was a whole generation of top players that learned not to make Michael Jordan angry when he was on the court, so this story is more common than one would think. Garnett says he learned to not wake the beast again after that but throughout his career, he would go on to become a similar type of unstoppable force in the NBA.