There is an old saying that the two best moments in a boat owner’s life is the day he buys his boat and the day he sells it. As a Timeberwolves “fan” the two happiest days in my life were the day the Wolves drafted Kevin Garnett and the day the Wolves finally got rid of him.
By the time Garnett left for Boston, I had had more than enough of watching a 7-foot player take fade away jump shots, of watching the highest paid player in the history of the NBA thump his chest before each tip-off and then pass the ball in the last few seconds of the game, of watching an arrogant bully roar at second- and third-string players on other teams and then fold under the pressure of Tim Duncan.
Years ago one Twins Cities local sports writer used to describe then Timberwolves bench player Mark Madsen as the “best bad player” in the NBA. It was a great description of an over-achieving hustler. Madsen made the most of less talent than any player in the NBA.
While one-time Timberwolf Madsen may have been the best bad player in the NBA, one-time Timberwolf Kevin Garnett is without doubt the worst great player in NBA history. Recently named to his 14th NBA All-Star game, Garnett has received accolades his entire career. And yet for his entire career – and as a Timberwolves “fan” I saw much of his career – he has always struck me as a player that is more accolades than substance. What else do you call a 7-foot player that is afraid to go to the rim… a franchise player who has never and can never be the go-to guy in the final minutes of the game?
In 2003-04 the Timberwolves had the best season of their miserable history getting to the Western Conference Finals. Yet offensively future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett was the third option on that team behind Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell. When the game was close and things were on the line, Garnett was always the third choice. Cassell and Sprewell carried the team… Garnett roared and beat his chest and played phenomenal defense, but in the end he was not good enough to take a team to the finals.
Fast forward a few years to Garnett’s time on the Celtics…. Pierce was obviously option one when the Celtics won their NBA Championship. Rondo was two. Garnett was at best the third option… though a case could be made that Ray Allen was the third option and Garnett only the fourth. Either way, when a hall of famer is never better than the third or fourth best player on his team, he is “over-rated”….
This week Kevin Love, no where near the media darling that Kevin Garnett is, passed Garnett’s franchise record of consecutive double-doubles. This past week Kevin Garnett was tossed from a game for hitting someone below the belt… for acting like a bully… for acting like he always has. Garnett was chosen to go to the All-Star Game this year… Love only got in later because of an injury to Yao Ming.
Garnett is a Hall of Famer, yes… but when he played for the Timberwolves I always preferred watching Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell. Now I prefer watching Kevin Love. On the Celtics – a team I have always liked – I would rather watch Rondo and Pierce and Allen. In the NBA today, I would rather watch Kobe and LeBron and Wade and Durant and Nash and… the list goes on.
The next best day in my life as a Timberwolves “fan” will be the day Keven Garnett retires… and the next… the day he is inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. As a Timberwolves “fan” it seems, I am stuck with a lousy, dysfunctional team and its one and only superstar player, Garnett… the worst great player in the history of the game.