On the day of the workout, a weekday, Garnett followed his normal schedule. He took his sister to school, then took himself to school. He went to his classes, then to basketball practice, then to his SAT cram course. Finally he went to the NBA workout, at about the time he usually took a nap.
"A guy from the neighborhood, Billy T, drove me to the gym in this old, beat-up car, this Huffymobile, whatever it was," Garnett says. "Billy T was all excited. He kept yelling at me that this was my chance, what I'd been waiting for all of my life, that I had to show these guys, that this was how I could climb out of the ghetto. It was all true. I knew it. I was so tired, though, I fell asleep on the way. I was just narked. I woke up and we were at the gym."
The general managers, coaches and scouts were sitting in the bleachers behind one basket. They formed a row of impassive famous faces. Garnett recognized Kevin McHale and Elgin Baylor and "that silver-haired guy who coached Miami before Pat Riley." (That guy would be Kevin Loughery.) There must have been 15, 20 famous people, all gathered to see him. The idea took his breath away. "A few of my boys had snuck in, too, but they were way at the top, keeping quiet so they wouldn't be thrown out," Garnett says. "Those were the only people in the gym."
"Do you want to stretch?" Hammond asked. Garnett pulled one foot back to touch his butt. He repeated the process with the other foot. That was all. He was stretched. He felt the same nervousness that he felt before big games.
The workout seemed as confusing as Fleisher's workout had. The drills seemed to be meant for smaller men. Dribble the length of the court with the right hand. Take a jump shot. Dribble back with the left hand. Take another jump shot. Do it again. He'd spent most of his basketball time in the spot reserved for all high school big men, under the basket. Spin left. Spin right. O.K. Dribble? Crossover? Jumper from the key? From the baseline? He felt awkward. He was breathing hard when he finished.
"No one had said a word, not one of those guys from behind the basket," Garnett says. "I was just standing there when one of them—the first voice—said, 'Jump and touch the box [above the basket].' I jumped and touched the box. 'Can he touch the top of the box?' another voice said. I jumped and touched the top of the box. 'Again,' someone said. 'Left hand,' another one said. 'Right hand.' 'Again.' 'Try it with a running start.' Suddenly they all were yelling out things."
Garnett jumped and jumped and jumped some more. Somewhere in the middle of the jumping, he started shouting. Arrrrrrmrgh. He shouted with every jump. Arrrrrrmrgh and arrrrrrgh and arrrrrrgh. He jumped and shouted until the requests ended.
"When it was done, Kevin McHale came down to the floor and gave me a tip about my jump shot," Garnett says. "I'll always remember that. I thanked him, and then I walked back to the middle of the court while E [Fleisher] said goodbye to everyone. I lay down right in the middle of the court. I fell asleep for two hours. I was so tired." He awoke and his life had changed forever.
"I blew it," he told Fleisher, who had waited quietly in the empty, darkened gym.
"No, you didn't," the agent replied.