By: Ryan Schmidt
âKevin Garnett has officially retired from the NBA.
However, the Kevin Garnett Era in Minnesota ended for me April 9th, 2007 vs the Toronto Raptors at Target Center. KG scored 17 points on 7 of 23 shooting, grabbed 10 rebounds and had 6 assists. Garnett was traded just 2 months later to Boston. On February 25th, 2015 Garnett made his return to his first NBA home. He had 5 points and 8 rebounds in just over 18 minutes of play but the moment his name was announced to the capacity crowd that night it felt special. Unlike the end of the Garnett era game in 2007, 2015 felt great. It felt as if Flip Saunders brought Garnett back for another purpose.
Saunders was the one in 1995 who drafted the phenom fresh out of high school. Sports Illustrated that year put Garnett on their cover and titled itâReady or Not.â When my older brother bought that magazine and I read about KG, that was the player I was hoping the Timberwolves would draft. We never imagined how much he would change the NBA.
It was just a few years earlier when I became a real Wolves fan because of another player the Wolves drafted. That player was JR Rider. Rider excited the fan base with his dunks but they were also tired of his attitude. When Garnett show up, we didnât know heâd be the guy Minnesota fans gravitate towards. Only a few short games into his rookie year, and stories, which now have became legend, demonstrate Garnett as a tireless worker. Jonathan Abrams details stories in his book,âBoys Among Men,' of Garnett as a teenager in Chicago and his first year in Minnesota.
The final two years of Kevin Garnett in Minnesota werenât exactly magical. He played in just 43 games and some of those games there wasnât a whole lot of minutes for him. I know many including myself wondered aloud what Garnett at 38 years old would bring to a young promising Wolves roster. Other than nostalgia for us fans who grew up watching him, it didnât seem like Garnett would be a torchbearer.
But his encouragement on the bench to younger players could be seen often. His teachings were routinely praised and welcomed. Garnettâs fire has been seen in Karl-Anthony Towns. Rubio constantly displays signs of his competitiveness. Zach LaVine was in awe of him, âHe was playing in this league before I was born!â, and âwhen you see him in practice and see how he works, itâs just a blessing that we have him."
To understand what Garnett means to the Minnesota Timberwolves fan base can be summed up in three parts. Before, during, and after. Before Kevin Garnett the Timberwolves won 126 games and lost 366. The Wolves lost 60 games in every single season except one before Garnett. From 1995 to 2007 the Wolves won 501 games. They made the playoffs in eight of those seasons culminating with a #1 seed 2003-2004 season and Garnettâs MVP. Since 2007-08 season to now the Wolves have won more 30 games twice. They lost more than 60 games in four seasons after Garnett.
If you breakdown every bit and piece of Timberwolves history before, during and after KG youâd see the shortcomings and missteps of a franchise. Youâd also come to a greater understanding of why one player meant so much to one team. Youâd see some parts of that fan base believe KG didnât do enough. Youâd see many counter that claim that KG never had enough. One thing nobody ever will claim was KG didnât try hard enough.
The last thing Iâll leave you with other than "Thank you KG for the 20 year career", is Kevin Garnettâs last NBA dunk. By the way, you'll want to make sure you watch all of the last video to see Karl Anthony Townsâ excitement.