Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett is calling time on his NBA career after 21 seasons, posting a video on Instagram saying “farewell” and “thank you” to fans who have backed him since 1995.
Garnett posted the video on Friday amid reports he and the Timberwolves had reached a deal on a buyout of his $8 million contract for the upcoming season.
The 40-year-old departs as the most productive player in the history of the Timberwolves, where he spent 13 and a half of his 21 seasons.
“I’m just thankful. I can’t even put that into words,” Garnett says in the moody video that shows him alone in Minnesota’s Target Center arena.
“I’m just thankful. I’m just thankful for everybody and the love. I never would have thought that people love me like this,” he adds in the video, which ends with the words “Farewell” and “Thank you for the journey” on the screen.
Garnett was drafted out of high school in 1995 and became one of the most accomplished power forwards in league history, helping make the long-suffering Timberwolves into playoff contenders.
He was the first player in two decades to go straight from high school to the NBA, and his success paved the way for similar moves by Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Tracy McGrady.
In departing, he follows long tenured veterans Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan out of the NBA.
“Kevin Garnett is one of the fiercest competitors our league has ever seen,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said.
“He held himself to the highest standard of preparation and performance for a remarkable 21 seasons. On behalf of the NBA family, I thank Kevin for his sustained excellence and the enormous impact he’s had on the game.”
The 15-time All-Star ranks 17th with 26,071 career points, ninth in career rebounds with 14,662 and 17th in blocked shots with 2,037 and was the league Most Valuable Player in 2004.
Known for is intensity and his meticulous training habits, Garnett is one of five players to log at least 50,000 NBA game minutes.
Traded from the Timberwolves to the Boston Celtics in 2007, Garnett won a title with the Celtics in 2008 when he was named defensive player of the year.
He returned to Minnesota in February of 2015 and averaged 3.2 points and 3.9 rebounds in 38 games last season while battling injuries.
He also mentored rising star Karl-Anthony Towns as he provided a veteran presence on a young Minnesota team.
“It has been a real joy to watch KG come into the league as a young man and watch him develop his skills to become one of the very best in the NBA,” said Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor.
“I have treasured the opportunity to see him grow as a leader. I wish him continued success in the next chapter of his life. His Minnesota fans will always cherish the memories he has provided.”
The news comes with the Timberwolves first training camp under coach Tom Thibodeau set to begin on Tuesday.
Minnesota’s Spanish guard Ricky Rubio was among the players using social media to pay tribute to Garnett.
“Thank you KG!!” Rubio said in an Instagram post. “Hands down one of the best to ever play this game. I learned what hard work really means. Great teammate. It was a dream come true to play next to you.”