By Thomas Zhou
Among all the craze that happened before the 2015 NBA trade deadline, Kevin Garnett’s return to the Minnesota might trigger more thrill than analysis, at least to the Timberwolves fans.
That’s right. KG has returned home. Even if you are not a Minnesota fan, the simple theme of nostalgia could cause a ripple in your emotions. We are talking about a 38-year-old going back to the place that drafted him 20 years ago directly from high school. We are talking about a franchise iron who led almost every statistical category (points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks) of the Timberwolves when he left eight years ago. (ESPN). We are talking about a player who has carried his team to the only eight playoff appearances in franchise history during his 12-year tenure.
KG’s days in Minnesota was glorious yet bitter. His team got eliminated seven consecutive years in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. When it finally passed the first round in 2004, in which KG clinched the MVP Award and Minnesota finished the regular season with a franchise-best 58-24 record, the Timberwolves lost to the Los Angles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.
While KG finally got a championship ring as a Boston Celtic the first year after leaving Minnesota, the Timberwolves haven’t had a winning season since then. AI Jefferson, whom the Timberwolves gained in 2007 from the trade, and Kevin Love are both qualified players. They handed out decent stat sheets in their tenures as Timberwolves, but neither of them could ignite the city as the “Big Ticket” did. The Target Center’s attendance has only once ranked at top 20 (at 15th in 2011-12 season) in these eight years.
Now here he is, after he waived his no-trade clause.
His return can bear strategic meanings, too. While he may not turn Minnesota to a playoff contender immediately, KG, who has long be known for his competitiveness, could guide the team to be wolves, again. His experience makes him a mentor to the young talents, Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine and the forgotten Anthony Bennett. He does not even need to establish his authority. It has always been there. Wiggins said in an interview to media that “When you think of the Timberwolves, you think of Kevin Garnett.” KG will at least find another old friend — coach Flip Saunders, who has spent 10 seasons with him.
It does not have to be that far. Let’s just see what kind of passion he will bring to the crowd when Garnett plays his return debut, which is anticipated to be this Wednesday against Washington.