In the twilight of his career, Kevin Garnett lost his temper while facing Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets, costing himself a game in the process.
Kevin Garnett is widely regarded as one of the biggest trash talkers in NBA history. He used whatever tactics he could to get inside your head and give himself any sort of advantage he could (other than his natural skill-level). Toward the end of his career, his on-court intensity led to an altercation with Dwight Howard of the Houston Rockets.
On January 12, 2015, the 27-11 Rockets visited the struggling 16-22 Brooklyn Nets for a regular season matchup at the Barclays Center. Just 4 minutes into the first quarter, Kevin Garnett was whistled for a foul while trying to keep Howard from establishing position inside.
Frustrated, Garnett could be seen immediately yelling toward the referee while nudging Howard away from him with an elbow. Not appreciating the nudge, Howard responded with a quick smack to Garnett’s chest. The move sent KG over the edge, as he responded by throwing the basketball into Howard’s back and then stepping in to headbutt him.
In seeing the incident play out, it’s tough to see Garnett’s response as proportional to what Howard did. In the clip above, you can see him being restrained by Trevor Ariza as well as his own staff — eventually putting his arms up as if he’s done pursuing Dwight.
Once clear of the crowd somewhat, Garnett then makes a second attempt to loop around and get another piece of Howard. It’s hard to see how Dwight could’ve aggravated Garnett so much in less than five minutes of gameplay, but nevertheless, Kevin completely lost it.
How the Houston Rockets Got the Last Laugh
With the bizarre incident aside, the Houston Rockets took care of business that night, never leaving the door open for the Nets. In typical fashion, James Harden led the way with 30 points on 4-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc while Donatas Motiejunas added 18.
Howard, who played for 28 minutes, ended the night with eight points and five rebounds but, most importantly, a team win. “As long as we win the game, that’s all that matters,” he said after the game. “I’ll do my damage when it’s time.”
The Rockets got the win, 113-99, while Garnett had to watch the majority of the game from the locker room. Even worse Brooklyn, he was subsequently suspended for the next game for the headbutt as well as instigating the incident.
Garnett would end up being traded back to the Minnesota Timberwolves five weeks after the incident, while the Houston Rockets would make the Western Conference Finals.