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Behind the Scenes of the Making of Kevin Garnett’s Documentary ‘Something Is Attainable’

This story appears in an entire special issue dedicated to the Big Ticket. Shop now

Those that have been there from the start will let you know that Kevin Garnett didn’t need to make a documentary solely about himself. They’ll let you know that as a storyteller, he merely needed to be a personality who was half of a bigger story, and the whole lot he’s ever performed, each basket he’s scored (or blocked, or rebounded) are domino items stacked inside a protracted path of different dominos. One choice led others to fall, and the story of Kevin Garnett, the story that will likely be instructed in Kevin Garnett: Something is Attainable, is a visible illustration of that domino impact. 

Co-directed and produced by Eric Newman and Dan Levin, together with producers Mike Marangu, Marc Levin and Brian Bennett—KG’s companion at his manufacturing firm, Content material Cartel—the documentary is a take a look at KG’s previous, diving deep into the affect he’s had on the League and the legacy he’s at the moment leaving as a Corridor of Famer.

Garnett had expressed his curiosity in filmmaking manner earlier than the documentary even got here to fruition. Stephen Espinoza, president of SHOWTIME Sports activities, recollects the primary time he met KG, again in 2014 whereas on a flight from New York to China. SHOWTIME, one of many Barclays Heart sponsors, was invited to hitch the Nets on the journey, and Espinoza recollects chatting with KG on the airplane about boxing in addition to Kevin’s post-career plans and objectives. 

“We ended up speaking so lengthy that finally, they needed to separate us as a result of we’re retaining everybody else within the cabin awake speaking and laughing,” he says. “Once we completed that dialog, I keep in mind pondering that if there was ever a possibility to do a challenge with him, I’d leap at it as a result of he’s such an excellent dynamic, peripatetic character and has actually been an icon and a trailblazer within the League and within the tradition for a protracted, very long time.” 

Marc Levin, who first met KG throughout a Tremendous Bowl LIII social gathering, remembers having earlier conversations with him about his pursuits in exploring filmmaking and manufacturing. Garnett, who had seen Levin’s earlier movie, Gang Warfare: Banging in Little Rock, was intrigued by infamous gang chief Larry Hoover and excited about telling his story. 

Garnett additionally shared his curiosity in documentaries with Mike Marangu, who had beforehand labored with Levin on various sports activities documentaries, together with Freeway: Crack within the System, together with being a producer on Iverson. The 2 had been launched in 2018, simply two years after KG retired, by Brian Bennett. 

No shade to different sports activities docs, however having grown up within the period of hip-hop and the heavy affect of Nas, Tupac and Biggie, KG instructed Marangu that he needed his personal documentary to be, in his personal phrases, some “gangster shit.”

“Whenever you’re speaking to him and he’s actually appearing it out, he can’t simply let you know a narrative,” Marangu says on a Zoom name. “He’s full sweat, appearing out and imitating everybody’s voices. He’s simply an incredible storyteller and he at all times says that got here from hip-hop…from day one he was like, I don’t do something mushy. I see what different gamers are doing, and I like these guys and all that, however I simply need to do all gangster shit.” 

After that dialog, Marangu reached out to Levin, who reeled in Newman—who on the time was constructing his work as a filmmaker and producer masking sports activities. Newman had served as a producer on each The Legend of Swee’ Pea and created the imaginative and prescient and govt produced the DeMarcus Cousins movie, The Resurgence, with SHOWTIME. Collectively, Newman, with Dan and Marc Levin created the idea of what Kevin’s documentary could be and put collectively the dense story deck that was offered within the pitch assembly with SHOWTIME.

“I are likely to go mad scientist mode with story decks, and I took this to a special stage,” Newman recollects. That features “The Butterfly Impact,” a diagram he created, which was impressed by an earlier dialog he had with KG, that exhibits simply how a lot KG impacted the League, the tradition and the way he paved the way in which for future generations.

The primary assembly with SHOWTIME came about in June 2019, throughout the NBA Finals. KG, Marangu, Bennett, Newman and Brian Dailey, SVP of SHOWTIME Sports activities, all sat in one in every of SHOWTIME’s West Hollywood workplaces, whereas the Levins known as in. 

The preliminary pitch assembly went nicely and led to a different one getting scheduled in July at SHOWTIME’s workplace in New York. Newman and Garnett spent practically the complete day collectively, getting breakfast and bouncing across the metropolis. Newman shared his personal story about how basketball has performed an enormous function in his life, a second of vulnerability that he feels helped create a stage of belief and respect between the 2 early on. 

Throughout that assembly, everybody was able to execute the pitch to the SHOWTIME Sports activities staff. However, as quickly because the assembly started, the plan went out the window and the 15-time All-Star instantly took the reins. Garnett had one thing to say and went into full KG mode. He knew what he needed this movie to be, and simply as with something involving Kevin Garnett, everybody merely watched with amazement. 

“He was so animated and couldn’t sit nonetheless. He’s going from sitting straight throughout from me watching me to leaning again in his chair to his toes up, to getting up pacing the room, to getting in a defensive stance,” says Newman. “He was like, I need to make this in regards to the domino impact of going from highschool to the professionals. I don’t need this to simply be about me. I need this to be about the entire different parts and lanes. We sort of needed to deliver him again and be like, Hey, we’re going to cowl all of that!

When Garnett and everybody who was within the room that day (bodily and nearly) shook palms and formally greenlit the movie, they knew that not solely have been they about to provide the primary documentary about him, however they have been going to create an essential physique of labor with cultural significance. Kevin had by no means gone into tons of element about his previous, merely telling bits and items to the media: rising up in South Carolina, transferring to Chicago, enjoying in a pickup sport that included Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, witnessed by Isiah Thomas, having a heart-to-heart with Thomas about his future. This movie would dive deeper into all of it after which some. 

“Garnett was at all times the final word story to inform from my era,” says Newman, who grew up rooting for the Boston Celtics and, as a former highschool coach and basketball clinic director, was deeply impacted by that ’08 championship staff. “Our senior 12 months of highschool was his rookie 12 months within the NBA, so watching that leap whereas additionally having a really significant basketball expertise of my very own was very impactful. Simply pondering again on that point, a part of our story is this magical 25-year framework—which was launched by his choice and the whole lot else that got here with it.”

The movie, produced by Blowback Productions, Content material Cartel and SHOWTIME, is centered round Garnett’s affect and journey throughout this 25-year interval. Garnett needed to maintain it actual for the movie, and for the primary time, he opens up about his accomplishments in one-on-one interviews and is sincere in regards to the moments which have made him who he’s. 

“Kevin was drawn by a spread of SHOWTIME documentaries,” Dailey says. “Kobe, Iverson, most just lately Ron Artest, DeMarcus Cousins, the Shut Up and Dribble challenge with LeBron [James]—there’s a connection between all of these topics. This resonated with KG, and he needed to be a part of our model of storytelling: daring, unfiltered unapologetic.”

“The bar was set excessive,” provides Espinoza, about SHOWTIME’s array of movies on legendary gamers across the sport. “And Kevin was a trailblazer. I feel a part of what additionally makes this movie particular is to have a good time his profession, the competitor that he was, what he delivered to the League. A part of it’s to kind of present respect and acknowledge the contributions he’s made on a cultural foundation, on a sports activities foundation and even on a person foundation with a spread of younger gamers in the present day.”

Life is oftentimes surprising, and so was the filming of the documentary, proper from the very begin. Two days into manufacturing, which started in January 2020, the Levins, Newman, Marangu and the remainder of the crew joined KG on an exquisite seaside in Malibu the place he usually enjoys figuring out, meditating and clearing his ideas. None of them may have recognized then that almost 10 miles away, a devastating tragedy would happen 24 hours in a while January 26. The information was unimaginable: Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and her teammates Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester, tragically handed away in a helicopter crash.

Kevin’s demeanor modified from that second on. He had misplaced his little brother and buddy.

“[Kevin and Kobe] got here in across the similar 12 months,” Marangu reiterates. “Kevin ’95, Kobe in ’96. Kobe and [Allen] Iverson have been the kids that seemed to Kevin like, Hey, you made it. What’s the NBA like? [Kevin] was actually downloading all these guys that got here in that ’96 12 months about making the leap, so [Bryant’s passing] hit him fairly arduous.”

“All the things felt totally different after that, the world was totally different, he was totally different after that,” Newman provides.

Stream KEVIN GARNETT: Anything Is Possible on SHOWTIME. 

Throughout All-Star Weekend in Chicago final 12 months, the crew joined KG on a visit to go to his former highschool, Farragut Academy. They noticed the banners, the trophies, the glass home windows Garnett usually refers to, and, most notably, the star reuniting along with his outdated coaches and laughing and joking as if no time had handed. The manufacturing staff noticed firsthand simply how a lot that point he spent in Chicago formed who Garnett is, and the documentary will present a facet to him that not many have ever seen earlier than.

“You felt from the second he had that reunion along with his coach and the assistant coach that, that have [and] that one 12 months at Farragut actually is what made him Kevin Garnett. You felt it. You noticed his image within the gymnasium and all of the trophies and the retired jerseys,” says Marc Levin. “This nation child, who clearly was extremely proficient, was only a [boy] from South Carolina thrown into [an environment like] west Chicago. The gangs, Farragut [had] college students preventing each day, and [Kevin] was simply thrown into that. Then, [he has] this unbelievable second the place he made this choice that he was going to take an opportunity at going professional—it was all palpable, emotional and I had by no means realized that his highschool 12 months was such a crucible when it comes to forming who he was.”

Whereas the journey to Chicago had its celebratory moments, together with the announcement of the Naismith Basketball Corridor of Fame finalists, a darkish cloud additionally lingered. The world was nonetheless mourning the lack of Kobe Bryant.

“The Corridor of Fame press occasion was at All-Star Weekend in Chicago and that turned a complete Kobe tribute, in order that affected him, and [it seems like] he nonetheless hasn’t been in a position to actually speak about it,” Marangu says. “That’s probably the most impactful factor throughout manufacturing that occurred.”

“Chicago was imagined to be a celebration of 25 years, however as a substitute it was this somber, reflective [moment] on Kobe. [Kevin] did two hours on ALL THE SMOKE and it was nearly like remedy…which made the Farragut go to that rather more significant. He was actually reflective after that. We completed and did that exit shot of him leaving the constructing and to me, it was a lot greater than filming a man leaving the constructing. The entire day was actually impactful.”

One tragedy virtually led straight into one other. The COVID-19 pandemic hit, and manufacturing was halted for 3 months. As soon as it began again up in June, everybody felt like they have been making a special sort of movie with a handful of uncontrollable elements: loss, tragedy and a world pandemic. All the things felt totally different, and even Kevin—with all of his bubbly vitality and pleasure—wasn’t the identical individual from the start of the 12 months.

“Kevin wanted, and I’m comfy saying this, Kevin simply wanted time,” says Newman, wanting again. “All the things that’s occurred in our world weighs on us all otherwise and these items have been weighing on him, and a number of the occasions I’ve to remind myself, OK, this movie is clearly very, crucial to the individuals making it, it’s crucial to the topic, however it’s not the one factor that he’s aware of each day when he wakes up. He’s a father, he’s launching various things, he’s concerned in several ventures and initiatives, so when the timing is true to choose it up, it’ll be proper and fortunately that occurred in June.

The crew finally needed to conduct a number of the interviews nearly and needed to administer COVID exams when filming in-person at Dream Magic Studio in L.A. Nonetheless, they have been in a position to interview Kevin’s former teammates, mates and friends, together with Paul Pierce, Sam Cassell, Ronnie Fields, Doc Rivers, Rajon Rondo, Isiah Thomas, Danny Ainge, and even Snoop Dogg—all of whom shared tales and perception into who the massive man is and the affect he’s had on so many individuals.

Garnett additionally opened up an increasing number of as manufacturing continued and confirmed moments of vulnerability. 

Final October, all of them traveled again to KG’s outdated stomping grounds in Minnesota. Whereas there, they took time to pay respect to and mourn the lack of George Floyd. It was then that each of them noticed simply how impactful these moments they spent with Garnett have been. Making a documentary about him was one factor, however in some ways, it felt like 2020 was one other character within the movie. 

“It could be A, silly and B, fully irresponsible, to disregard what’s going on on this planet,” Dan Levin says. “Whether or not it’s Kobe, whether or not it’s social injustice, police brutality, all of these items and the way they have an effect on us—how we have been going to do this remained to be seen however we knew we weren’t going to draw back from it when the cameras have been rolling.”

Topics, in all their glory and accomplishments, are merely people who’ve performed extraordinary issues, however they’re additionally multi-faceted fairly than one-dimensional. Many know Kevin Garnett because the dominating, all-imposing and harmful power that he was on the courtroom, with an depth that oftentimes adopted him off of it. That’s the KG we’ve all seen, cheered for and marveled at. He’s sincere, energetic, personable and entertaining all on the similar time, somebody who will let you know like it’s. Newman, Marangu, Bennett and Marc and Dan Levin have described him as a one-man present, somebody whose magnetic character instructions a room. But they’ve additionally seen him get considerably uncomfortable with having the highlight be completely on him. From the beginning, Garnett was intensely passionate and hungry for storytelling, prepared for the following chapter in his profession. 

In his personal phrases, Garnett needs this movie, and his manufacturing firm, to maintain it simply as actual as he does. “He was like, All the things I’m watching is mushy! Man, it’s all treble. I need this to be in regards to the BASS,” Marangu recollects Kevin saying. 

It needs to be about bass.” 


Images courtesy of KEVIN GARNETT: Something Is Attainable.

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