Following a defiant seventh-round knockout of previously unbeaten Jose Pedraza (22-1, 12...
Some people accuse sports fans of being a little too serious about sports. You know, spectacles performed by men paid to play a child’s game. They say that the parallels made between life and sport are much too severe and are not to be taken seriously. Sport is just that, sport. It is not happiness or sadness; to them I say rubbish and here’s why. You see Kevin for the last nine years I’ve experienced the ups and downs of a Minnesota legend. They don’t understand that this state is known for lakes, Prince, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Kirby Puckett and Kevin Garnett….not necessarily in that order. I’ve witnessed firsthand the joyful and gloomy times of a bona find superstar.
All it takes for something, anything, to become valuable is a connection. Due to what you’ve done for the Minnesota Timberwolves, I feel as though I have a connection. Gladiator and spectator, captain and crew, player and fan.
You arrived at a time when the Minnesota Timberwolves desperately needed a sports icon. You were the balm needed for a franchise ailing due to lack of leadership and that special ability to perform under pressure. Christian Laentter, J.R. Rider, Donyell Marshall…..all were expected to provide the type of franchise changing career that would mark an upward turn in the club’s existence. Each failed under the enormous anxiety that a franchise looking for a savior can bestow. You’ve succeeded where they’ve failed. You’ve managed to not only support the championship hopes of an entire city but also consistently improve as a player. You’ve morphed from a talented rookie to a good player to an All-Star to a great player and finally to one of the best ever.
Despite that, criticism follows you like the rabid Minnesota fans you’ve come to adore. Some say you’re too passive in the clutch and not vocal enough with teammates. Your way of dealing with it is to keep on keeping on. To continue doing what you’ve done for 10 years. Play hard, be a leader, and always improve. For all of Kevin McHale’s “students” you’re the most accomplished student pivot footwork tutorials. Each season you’re a team as well as league leader in minutes played, points, rebounds, and assists.
As with any spectacular athlete numbers don’t tell the entire story. 20-10-5, points, rebounds and assists. No other player in NBA history has been as spectacularly efficient. 7, the number of first round playoff exits you endured before advancing to the Western Conference Finals and winning the League MVP award in the process. 4, the number of point guards worthy of mention that you’ve suited up with to chase the elusive O’Brien trophy you covet so much only to be given a fifth for this upcoming season. 1, the number of teams you’ve played for in your Hall of Fame career. It’s hard to think of another player who has been through as much yet still plays with the fervor that you do.
Your evolution from uber talented, potential laden, 1st round draft pick to the most complete and consistent player in the NBA today has been a joy to witness. Each effortless jumper, each pinpoint pass, each graceful rebound; only a championship can provide the final feeling of joy the game of basketball can offer.
Some say you’ll have to leave Minnesota to get it. That you’ll have to join another team and be the piece that puts them over the top. The very thought makes me shudder but it is not beyond the realm of possibility. Life has no guarantees and the name “Garnett” could possibly grace another NBA jersey.
In a perfect world you’d win here though. Ideally Duane Casey would bring the defensive attitude and unselfishness this team needs to be a title contender. Idyllically, you would celebrate a championship on the same Target Center floor that you’ve lorded over for close to a decade. I can see it and I know you can too.
The connection I spoke of is not one built on personal interaction or shared interest. It’s built on the fact that you are the face of the franchise I love. You are the star that drives its existence. The weight of an entire city’s basketball hopes sit squarely on your shoulders, yet you do not fold. I’m not sure how much longer you can continue in this way, but I do know that I’ll enjoy each game of each season. I’ll continue to revel in victory and moan in defeat. I’ll continue to be a fan.