With the Boston Celtics breezing through the playoffs, I've noticed a disturbing trend emerging in the local hoops community. It's suddenly become very fashionable to hate the previously beloved Kevin Garnett. In 1995, The Kid came to Minneapolis and changed the NBA, as the first prep star to skip college in 20 years. Kobe, LeBron, and Dwight Howard would all follow this blueprint. The Kid became The Franchise in 1998 when he changed the NBA again, with the signing of a then-unprecedented $126M deal. But more importantly for local hoops fans, KG made professional basketball matter in Minnesota for twelve years. Everything before him and after him has been unbelievably irrelevant.
Just three years removed from his departure, I now hear local fans whining about his dirty mouth and his aggressive, "chippy" play. Ironically, when KG was in Minnesota we referred to this as "fiery competitiveness," and we adored him for it. I hear local fans whining that he's "cocky," yet three years ago we called this "passion." Well, guess what? You can't have it both ways, Minnesota. Either you're lying to yourself now, or you were lying to yourself then. While it's true that KG's contract made it difficult to for the Wolves to add other pieces, they do it in other cities all the time. Like Boston, for one. KG has never stolen a paycheck; his level of effort and intensity is incredibly rare in today's game. An incompetent, scandalous front office is what made it impossible for us to compete. I thought that was obvious. How quickly we forget, and let our envy and jealousy get the best of us.
Kevin Garnett is the exact same player now that he was as a Timberwolf. The only difference is he's wearing green and he's winning at a higher level. And that's OK, we don't have to take it personally, Minnesota. It's OK to be happy for him, realizing he wasted his best twelve years giving everything he had to make this franchise a winner. For my money, watching KG completely lose control of his emotions after finally winning the elusive NBA Title will go down as one of my favorite moments in sports. And here's hoping he gets another ring. After twelve years of purgatory, he's earned this.