(CBS Local Sports)– Kevin Garnett was one of the most ferocious and dominant players of his generation. The man known as the Big Ticket on the basketball court was an NBA Champion, league MVP and a 15x All-Star. Garnett recently collaborated with author David Ritz on a new book from Simon & Schuster about his life and basketball career called “KG: A-Z: An Uncensored Encyclopedia of Life, Basketball, and Everything in Between.”
Unlike the typical athlete autobiography, Ritz and Garnett go from topic to topic and the book is broken up into tons of little vignettes by letter as opposed to typical chapters. While Ritz has collaborated with music icons like Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin and Janet Jackson, he was fascinated by the many layers of one of the league’s best big men to ever play the game.
“I’m a fan, so this was a joyful experience. He’s really an intelligent man,” said Ritz, in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “His intelligence is idiosyncratic. He’s got his own way of thinking and processing ideas. My biggest changeover was not to go with a straight ahead narrative. At the suggestion of our editor, I did it by topic. The challenge becomes can you get a reader hooked on story, even though it’s a truncated story to a degree.”
In the book, Garnett provides details on his childhood in South Carolina and Chicago, winning a championship with the Boston Celtics and his takes on things like sneaker culture, Family Guy and Mark Cuban. Ritz wanted to make the reader feel like KG was sitting across the table talking to them.
“I have such great admiration of him as a storyteller,” said Ritz. “This guy is a force of nature. If you’re in a room with him and he’s telling a story, you ain’t going anywhere. He’s extravagantly charismatic. His charisma is really individual. I’ve worked with a lot of charismatic people and I’ve never met anyone with his kind of energy. What I had to do was channel this and he loves telling stories. He’s not a reluctant storyteller. I’ve ghosted people who are very shy. Marvin Gaye, for example, was a very shy man. With KG, it was really me getting out the way and letting him be him and organizing these chapters.”
Ritz says he thoroughly enjoyed collaborating with Garnett on this book. While the author followed his career and knew that he was a great teammate and intense player, he was still surprised by a few things he learned from his three months writing with the Big Ticket.
“You can ask him anything. He likes who he is and he’s confident about who he is,” said Ritz. “The hoop part of it was great because I’m a hoop fan. We got behind the scenes and got the stories about Boston, Big Baby [Glen Davis] and Doc Rivers and that was great. He isn’t one of these old school guys that feels like we had it in our era and they’ll never get there again. He really appreciates what is going on now.”
“KG: A-Z: An Uncensored Encyclopedia of Life, Basketball, and Everything in Between” is available today wherever books are sold.