Kevin Garnett had several nicknames in his playing days including KG, the Franchise, the Big Ticket and the Kid. Garnett got the nickname Big Ticket for being the main reason the Timberwolves sold seats. While the name the Big Ticket is Garnett’s most fun nickname, KG is the one most closely connected to him.
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Why was Kevin Garnett called the Kid?
Garnett’s earliest years in the NBA were when he was called the Kid or Da Kid. The reasons are mostly obvious but with a bit of a twist for those who don’t know Garnett’s history.
KG was a dominant force in high school basketball first in South Carolina and later in his senior year in Chicago. Garnett was USA Today National Basketball Player of the Year and a McDonald’s All-American.
Colleges were desperate to get their hands on Garnett and that is likely what would have happened if he could have made the qualifying SAT score for the NCAA.
But when he could not get the score, Garnett became the first high school player in 20 years to go directly to the NBA.
Conventional wisdom at the time was that basketball players needed the seasoning of college ball to become ready for league. No one had entered the draft out of high school since Bill WIlloughby and Darrell Dawkins had been drafted in 1975.
But Garnett changed all that. He entered the draft, was drafted 5th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1995.
For the next ten year dozens of players declared and were drafted straight from high school including notable names like Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady and LeBron James and not as memorable names like Korleone Young and Sebastian Telfair
Being the first straight-from-high school player in 20 years made KG stand out as being young. That is where the nickname the Kid came from.
It stuck in part because Garnett became a force in the league and part because he was the Kid who changed everything. The draft became very different for the next 20 years until the league changed the rule and locked kids out of the draft until their class was a year removed from high school.
Why was Kevin Garnett called the Franchise or the Big Ticket?Embed from Getty Images
One of the reasons Garnett became the Kid who changed everything is it worked: Minnesota did not regret its decision to grab him out of high school.
KG did not rocket straight to NBA stardom like later players straight from high school like Lebron James. But he was a good rookie with a lot of promise. Garnett then had a really good 2nd season and set himself up for a huge contract extension.
In September of 1997 after his second year KG signed a 6 year $126million extension with the Wolves that some analysts thought may have been a mistake. They were wrong.
Garnett became a dominant force in Minnesota under that contract, consistently improving his play until he won the league MVP in the 2003-2004 season. It was during this time people started calling him both the Franchise and the Big Ticket.
The Franchise name was for the obvious reasons: no one in Timberwolves history has performed anywhere close to the level KG did year in and year out during this run. He was both the Franchise for the team as it was presently constructed and the franchise’s greatest player by far.
He was the Franchise.
He became the Big Ticket because of an announcer. Conflicting reports claim that it was either Kevin Harlan or Trent Tucker who called him this.
The reason was in Minnesota at that time he was the main reason to buy a ticket. As the Wolves turned the corner from contenders to pretenders in his last three years in Minnesota, KG became the only reason to buy a ticket.
He was the Big Ticket because he filled the arena singlehandedly. It was a great name and it stuck with him pretty well.
Why was Kevin Garnett called KG?Embed from Getty Images
His name is Kevin Garnett so they called him KG because of his initials.
After Garnett became frustrated in Minnesota, he sought a trade. He got it and was shipped to the Celtics.
As a Celtics fan, this is when I watched him the most obviously. I think of Kevin Garnett as KG and recognize that as his nickname.
By the time he reached Boston, the Kid nickname had long since passed. While Garnett changed the draft forever, that had happened many years ago by this point. And the Celtics’ KG had proven a whole lot in the real league before he got here.
The Franchise and the Big Ticket also applied more clearly in Minnesota. KG was amazing but it’s very hard to claim you are the Franchise in Boston. Bill Russell, Larry Legend and a few others would like a word with you.
And even claiming KG was the Big Ticket in Boston was a lot tougher on a team with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. KG was the leader and the heart of those teams but he was not alone like he often was for the T’Wolves.
People still used the Big Ticket name in Boston, but less so than in Minnesota. So in his most successful years in Boston, Kevin Garnett was mostly KG and that has mostly stuck.
Summary: Kevin Garnett’s Nicknames
Kevin Garnett had four main nicknames in his playing days. The first nickname was the Kid. This stemmed from Garnett’s decision to bypass college and become the first player to move straight from high school to the NBA in twenty years. Later, as a dominant player for the Timberwolves, Garnett became known as the Franchise and the Big Ticket. He got these monikers for being the greatest player in franchise history and, often, the only reason to buy a ticket to the games. Finally, Kevin Garnett is most often referred to by his initials: KG.
I have been a Boston sports fan for more than forty years. I write about games, players and seasons from the past.