Well, it’s official. The Timberwolves dealt Kevin Garnett to the Boston Celtics for a collection of young talent, draft picks and financial flexibility that may or may not lead the franchise back to relevance, which, in addition to heart and soul, is what Garnett gave to the Wolves for the last 12 years.
Garnett was everything a fan could hope for in a franchise player. Did he lead them to a title? No, not even close. But you see how many games your franchise star wins when his version of Scotty Pippen is Wally Szczerbiak.
You know where Garnett is best? Post-game interviews. He is funny, earnest, honest, quick on his feet, and always, always drenched in sweating and heaving for breath. I know people, even Wolves fans, who are always quick to point out his negatives as a player, which is fine if you want to be that way. But I don’t know anybody who straight-up didn’t like the guy. Boston is going to love Kevin Garnett. People will be blown away by how good he is both on and off the court. I expect the Celtics to have a dominant season, beat Cleveland somewhere in the playoffs, and have an epic series against someone in the Finals.
And Garnett finishes Top 5 in the MVP race.
As a Wolves fan, I have to hope the deal works out. Regardless of how I feel about what happened in the past, I’m now an interested observer of the development of Al Jefferson and Gerald Green. Go G. Green!
But I also reserve the right to hate the deal. For one thing, there is historic sports management incompetence. Since this is a painful subject for me to explore, I will simply recount my statement earlier today to Pipeline Person PaulH regarding the trail of jeers tread by McHale and Taylor in the last 10 years:
“I can’t even wrap my head around McHale’s tenure here. Who can explain it? It’s so egregious people can’t even talk about it here. Any conversation among Wolves fans leads, sooner or later, to an encounter with a franchise-altering loss of talent or assets that McHale and Taylor engineered directly. Over and over again, with no change in direction, and KG (and Flip) always to live with a mess that could never be cleaned up. Now KG and Flip are gone, and somehow, McHale and Taylor remain. True story: I walked into a used sporting goods store last week to get something for Linus, and behind the counter they had a whiteboard that read “McHale Big Man School Graduation Rate: 0%”. Often I have joked about the McHale Big Man School, but now I look forward to Al Jefferson’s imminent enrollment. May he graduate with honors.”
I should start quoting myself more often. It’s very convenient. PaulH also said some interesting things in that discussion, something to the effect of McHale missing out on the better deal with Chicago last year and Al Jefferson not being all that, but even if true it doesn’t matter. What matters is they dealt Kevin Garnett. First they put themselves in the position to make this happen, then it happened. They stay, he goes. McHale and Taylor engineered a scenario where the entire league, players and fans and media, was happy see Kevin Garnett leave the Timberwolves. Even if the young talent on this team does mesh, they’re going to have to generate a lot of heat to melt the Gulag image that’s back with this team for the first time since the halcyon Laettner days.
KG and George Brett are by far my two favorite athletes to follow. Watching George Brett slow down and retire was tough, but I never had to watch him wear somebody else’s uniform. And worst of all, Garnett has changed his number, probably because Jo Jo White or Dino Radja wore Garnett’s old #21 and they retired it. But I guess if Garnett has to pick a new number, #5 will do.
That was George Brett’s number.
Thanks for the last 12 years, Kevin Garnett. Not once did I ever think you weren’t playing hard, and not once did I ever think you were about anything but winning. You were a pleasure to watch play, and you deserved better than you got here.
Do you like the way I wrote that directly to Kevin Garnett? If you enjoy the NBA, read this piece by Bill Simmons for his reaction to the deal. It’s columns like this that make him the best writer covering the league, though in fairness I haven’t read any of the others.