BEST CORPORATE CITIZEN - 2006
We here in the Twin Towns like to think we're blessed with a benevolent corporate community: Target, General Mills, 3M, and even the privately owned Cargill are all noted nationwide for their charitable giving. Still, none of them could match the outpouring generated by the one-man corporation known as Kevin Garnett. While he might be smaller than some of the local companies, bear in mind that Garnett once had a six-year contract for $126 million, and Sports Illustrated estimates that with salary, rewards, and endorsements, KG pulled in $30 million last year alone. Even so, the man is noted for his graciousness and generosity—he did, after all, take a pay cut to stay with the Wolves, settling on a paltry $20 million a year. But not many people noticed what Garnett did in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In November, Garnett contacted Oprah Winfrey by letter, which the surprised host read on the air. In it, Garnett pledged to contribute to Winfrey's Angel Network and its mission of rebuilding an entire neighborhood in New Orleans. Garnett's pledge was to pay for the construction of one house every month for the next two years—a total of 24 dwellings. Oprah choked up as she read the letter, and with little self-promotion or fanfare, Garnett had made one of the most significant gestures by any celebrity or athlete to help Katrina survivors. For this, Garnett was largely ignored by the media, a crime that didn't escape the notice of ESPN.com's Scoop Jackson, who noted the move in a column headlined "What mattered most in 2005." "In an era when it is too often publicly asked: 'Where are our kids' role models?'" Jackson wrote, "in a world where we have been conditioned to believe that every one of these young superstars is unappreciative, ungrateful, undeserving, and a void soul, a situation arose that could have shifted the entire perception of their existence. What Kevin Garnett did was just that big." Bigger, to some degree, than anything any of our other corporate citizens did.