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Garnett is part of next class



Published: Mon, February 10, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



The MVP said that the NBA will be carried by a group of players, not just one.

ATLANTA (AP) -- Playing against Michael Jordan in his final All-Star game was special enough for Kevin Garnett. Winning the MVP made it even more memorable.

"The All-Star game is a time to share stories, good times, emotional times with your teammates," Garnett said after scoring 37 points, including nine in the second overtime, as the West won 155-145.

"It's a special time for you to sort of kick back and sort of watch everybody else and watch their regimen and all that."

And everybody, including Garnett, was watching Jordan.

Taking it all in

"I went into this knowing that this was Michael's last All-Star game and I know I was going to be playing against him," Garnett said. "It was my first time with Yao Ming, so I had a bunch of things going through my mind."

Garnett and Ming are members of the NBA's new generation that Jordan, during an emotional halftime tribute, said must carry on when he leaves.

"I don't think the responsibility falls on one single individual. We're in great shape with guys like Tim Duncan and Stephon [Marbury]," Garnett said.

"The league is full of guys that can carry it, but I think it's going to be a group effort, and I think it's a challenge that we all look up to."

Playing in his sixth All-Star game, the 26-year-old Garnett shot 17-of-24 from the field with an array of dunks and jumpers. He also had nine rebounds, five steals and three assists.

Garnett hit three straight baskets and scored the first seven points of the second extra period before sealing the victory with a dunk.

Almost needed one OT

The West's Kobe Bryant had nine points in the first overtime but missed the chance to sew up the victory when he made just two of three free throws with a second remaining after he was fouled by Jermaine O'Neal.

Then, in the second extra period, the West went inside to the 6-foot-11 Garnett, who was able to put the game away by scoring over the 6-foot-6 Vince Carter.

"The second overtime was really, really intense," Garnett said. "Guys got really aggressive. We knew it was going to be either me or Tim who had the mismatch and at the time, I had Vince Carter on me and I just told [Duncan], 'Let's take advantage of it.' "

Garnett's style during his stellar career has been to take what the defense gives him and not force shots. He did that again Sunday night with the best players in the world on the same floor.

"I didn't want to be in a position where I was taking too many shots," Garnett said. "I never want to be perceived as a ball hog. It was a situation where I was either at the basket for a dunk or had a jumper."

High marks

Garnett's 37 points were the most in an All-Star game since Jordan scored 40 at Chicago in 1988.

"There's no genius, no ego," Garnett said. "Me, myself, I don't put that in my head to come here and try to be this, try to be that."

But he'll always remember being the MVP on the night the NBA All-Star game said good-bye to its greatest player. "I was part of something special. It was history," Garnett said.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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