Kevin Garnett: Howlin' Wolf

A knock on a hotel room door at two o'clock in the morning in the first week of May 1995 was the beginning. Eric Fleisher, the sports agent, got out of bed, walked across the floor and looked through the peephole. Who could be here at two o'clock in the morning? Through the tiny opening Fleisher saw the largest kid he'd ever seen in his life.

"Kevin?" he asked.

"Yeah," the largest kid replied.

Fleisher opened the door....

Kevin Garnett entered. He was 6'11" and a spindly 220 pounds. He had a shaved head. He was accompanied by five other kids, friends from Farragut Academy on Chicago's West Side. They all were dressed in hip-hop style, big clothes hanging from their frames. They filled the hotel room.

Fleisher had been scheduled to meet with Garnett at seven o'clock the previous evening. The kid was seven hours late. It was not a mistake. He hadn't overslept or been delayed or simply forgotten where he was supposed to be. Tardiness was a strategy. The kid wanted to come in "hard." His word. He wanted the upper hand, the surprise, the control. He had figured all this out for himself. He was 18 years old.

"I didn't know this guy," Garnett says now. "He didn't know me. You hear so many things about agents, about people trying to take advantage of you. I'd had a lot of agents calling me, playing these childish games. I'd play games right back on them. I won't let you take advantage of me. I'll kill you before I let you take advantage of me."

So begins Leigh Montville's 1999 SI takeout piece on Kevin Garnett.