“Kevin Garnett: Anything Is Possible” outlines the influential career of Basketball Hall of Famer and Celtic champion Kevin Garnett, who played a pivotal role in “Uncut Gems” opposite Adam Sandler. The Showtime documentary dives into his roots, where it all started and how he got the gold, making his mark on the sport and paving the way for future legends like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.
Co-directors Daniel B. Levin and Eric W. Newman knew they had a strong story to work with, as fans of ’90s basketball themselves, when in talks with Garnett about ideas for projects. The way seemed clear: it was time for Garnett to tell his own story.
The feature-length shows sides of Garnett’s career that many may not be as familiar with, such as his robust high school career as a player or the large role Chicago played in his preparation for the NBA. More than that, the documentary ties in heartfelt interviews from big players in Garnett’s life and career, including Doc Rivers, Sam Cassell and Snoop Dogg.
Levin and Newman spoke to Variety about developing the documentary, from production during the pandemic to surprising stories and storytellers they found throughout the process.
How was working with Kevin Garnett, and how did it all start?
Daniel B. Levin: It was amazing. It was quite a wild experience. I think beyond what first hits you when you meet him is his storytelling ability. As a documentary subject, that’s quite a great asset to have. Just being able to talk to him about his life was fascinating. Eric and I are of course huge basketball fans and have a long history of working together, a lot of it connected through basketball. So you know, when we started talking to Kevin Garnett, we were like, “Well why haven’t you told your story?” And he was like, “Do you think anybody would be interested?” And we said, “Of course.” It was always a creative conversation, but Eric and I sort of zeroed in on him telling his story.
What surprised you during this process? Were there any moments or stories you didn’t anticipate?
Eric W. Newman: The pandemic didn’t change our story, but it changed how we told it in many ways, if that makes sense. There are things in the film that you feel the pandemic. We were planning on doing scenes with K.G. and some of these influential people from his career and life, but because of COVID and because of the tragedy around Kobe Bryant, those scenes didn’t happen as we had hoped. But we were able to create some great arcs and great intertwining stories. After our first sit down with Kevin, nothing from him surprised me again. It was more an amazement in his consistency. What was surprising to be honest, in a lot of these sports docs that I’ve worked on or documentaries in general, you’ll get a couple of these complimentary voices that are really, really good. We were spoiled. We got so lucky because there were so many that had so many wonderful things to say. You could tell they cared about Kevin and the era and what he influenced.
What made Kevin standout as a subject for a documentary?
DL: There was so much clarity to his memory. When you’re talking to him, he’s almost like a one-man show. He’s performative, he’s doing impressions, he’s recalling small details. I had always seen Kevin on TV and on the court, but to see him perform his life in front of us was just awesome.
How did Snoop Dogg get involved?
DL: They obviously know each other, and I think we were looking for somebody that was a superstar in the same era as Kevin, you know from the early to mid ‘90s. They were sort of superstar colleagues that could discuss the convergence of hip hop and basketball. And since both of them thread that needle throughout their careers, we thought it would be a great scene. And to see them sort of enamored with each other’s craft was wild to watch.
What part of K.G.’s story do you think will resonate the most with the audience?
EN: I don’t think the younger generation realizes the overall impact he had, which we obviously do our best to convey in the film. It’s going from high school to the NBA when no one had done it for 20 plus years and the circumstances in which he did it. It’s the pre-salary cap NBA when he got that contract which changed the financial structure of the sport. It’s transforming this physical, intense power forward position where he adds this dynamic skill set on both ends of the floor. And then of course it’s forming the Big Three with the Celtics. We tried to weave these four pillars in without being too in your face about it, but find another — forget basketball, find another athlete who had this kind of impact on their sport. There’s not many.
Did you have any favorite voices in the documentary?
DL: For me, there were so many. But I would say one is coach Wolf Nelson, the Farragut coach, such a great character and storyteller. When we met him, we went to Farragut the day before the All-Star game, and he pulled out a duffle bag of VHS tapes. And he was like, “I’ve been saving these.” It was like a goldmine. He literally pulled out a duffle bag and just like threw VHS tapes out of it. He was like, “Yeah these have been collecting dust for 20 years.” When you meet someone like that, as a documentary filmmaker, that’s like an a-ha moment.
Is there an NBA player you’d like to follow next?
EN: I’ve been really stuck on like, where do you go from here in long-form docu storytellng when it comes to another basketball player? Putting my Celtic bias aside, I definitely want to work with Paul Pierce on something. Docs for current players are really tricky. One thing we like on the Showtime side is a focus on teams that had a cultural impact. There have been a lot of damn good NBA teams in the ‘90s and early 2000s that didn’t win it all, but they were damn close. There are a lot of stories there under the surface.
“Kevin Garnett: Anything Is Possible” premieres on Showtime on Nov. 12 at 8 p.m.