BOSTON — Timberwolves fans might get a little misty-eyed when Kevin Garnett is introduced prior to Friday's game in Minnesota, where he spent his first 12 NBA seasons. Garnett accords the same respect to the fans, but he has no warm and fuzzy feelings about the Timberwolves franchise.
Garnett was the Wolves' first true star and still stands as the greatest player in franchise history. He won the NBA's Most Valuable Player Award there in 2003-04 and guided the Wolves to the playoffs 10 times despite an itinerant supporting cast, justifying the $126 million contract extension he signed in 1997.
Gradually, Garnett's relationship with the Timberwolves reportedly soured as the team employed four head coaches in his final three seasons in Minnesota. The team won just 32 games in 2006-07 before trading Garnett to the Celtics for Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair and two first-round draft picks.
"It's always special to come back to true fans and sort of your foundation, but as far as that franchise I have nothing positive to say," Garnett said. "I think Kevin Love's playing at a high level. He's rejuvenated the city as far as basketball goes. Other than that, nothing else."
Garnett's acerbic attitude toward the Wolves is somewhat surprising given how he embodied the franchise for so long. Garnett helped the Wolves win an NBA-best 58 games in 2003-04, when they advanced to the Western Conference Finals.
Compared to Garnett's long tenure in Minneapolis, Jefferson was only in Boston for the blink of an eye. Jefferson played his first three seasons with the Celtics and was only 22 years old at the time of the trade.
Now a member of the Utah Jazz after another trade two offseasons ago, Jefferson expresses fondness for the Celtics every time he faces his original team.
"It's always good coming back here," Jefferson said. "It'd be nice to get a win. I haven't beaten them since I left, but it's always good to come back."
Garnett helped the Wolves gain relevancy in their early years. With Love, Ricky Rubio (who is out for the rest of the season with a torn left ACL) and a realistic chance at making the playoffs, the Wolves matter once again. From the sound of it, Garnett wishes them well — for the fans' sake.