Return of Garnett brings flashbacks
Basketball has long been my favorite sport to watch and play, but when I was growing up Kevin Garnett really put the sport on the map for me. I can't tell you how many times I pretended I was him, near the baseline practicing that patented turn-a...
Basketball has long been my favorite sport to watch and play, but when I was growing up Kevin Garnett really put the sport on the map for me.
I can’t tell you how many times I pretended I was him, near the baseline practicing that patented turn-around fade-away jump shot on the left side.
Garnett was the face of the Minnesota Timberwolves for the better part of 12 years until his departure to the Boston Celtics in 2007. He was the linchpin of the team’s only postseason success and brought the franchise to new heights.
So my mind was flooded with great memories when the news broke on Feb. 19 that “The Big Ticket” was waiving his no-trade clause from the Brooklyn Nets and announcing his return to the team that drafted him with the fifth pick out of Farragut Academy in Chicago.
I flashbacked to KG holding the 2003-2004 NBA MVP trophy, or him throwing up a cloud of chalk dust into the air before every game. The move instantly sent a shockwave of rejuvenation throughout the organization and brought a new-found authority figure to the court.
According to a St. Paul Pioneer Press story, after KG’s first practice with his new-old team, guard Ricky Rubio was asked if KG made his presence felt. “I think nobody in (Nikola Pekovic’s) career yell at him to run back on defense,” Rubio said, “so that’s good.”
The NBA veteran has 19 years of experience and holds almost all of the Timberwolves’ individual franchise records. From 1995 to 2007, he amassed 19,041 points, 10,542 points, and 4,146 assists. He’s “basketball old” at age 38, but his passion for the game still runs at an all-time high.
On Wednesday, he returned to a rousing standing ovation from 19,856 fans chanting his name throughout the energized Target Center.
He played just 19 minutes and produced five points and eight rebounds. But the difference in the team’s play was palpable by the end of the night.
The Wolves fell behind Washington by 15 points in the opening minutes of a nervously played first quarter. They made just 4 of 19 shots, scored 11 points and trailed by nine heading into the second quarter.
At the break, KG told the boys to chill and keep working. The Wolves won with ease, 97-77.
“It honestly felt like my rookie year,” Garnett said. “The energy, the anticipation of looking into the crowd and seeing my friends, family, I am glad my daughters were here. It was such a special time I can’t even put into words.”
The future looks bright with the team stockpiling up-and-coming talent such as Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine and others. They hope Garnett’s sage presence on the court and in the locker room will inspire a team that currently holds the NBA’s longest playoff drought at 11 seasons.
“Anything is possible,” Garnett famously screamed after winning the 2008 NBA championship with the Celtics.
And hopefully for Minnesota Timberwolves fans, with the second homecoming of “Da Kid,” that possibility surfaces sooner rather than later.