It is often said that the Timberwolves playoff run to the Western Conference Finals in 2004 was the franchise’s apex, and the moment listed by most fans as their favorite in team history. While technically true that it was the most successful season in history and the closest – in a direct sense – the team came to a championship, I personally disagree with the notion that this was the best time to be a Timberwolves fan.
To me, the best times were in the two seasons when Kevin Garnett was paired with Stephon Marbury to form the most exciting young core in basketball. In the 1996-97 season (Marbury’s first and Garnett’s second) the Wolves won 40 games and made the playoffs for the first time ever.
KG was just two years removed from high school. So was Steph. Along with Tom Gugliotta, they were the best players on the team.
In the franchise’s first seven years of existence leading up to this, the Timberwolves hadn’t ever won even 30 games. This marked a 14-win improvement from the season prior — KG’s rookie year — and it was immediately obvious that the explosive playmaker guard was a perfect match for the do-it-all seven footer. The following year the Wolves won 45 games, Garnett became a perennial All-Star, and the Wolves took the Payton-and-Kemp Supersonics to a fifth game in their best-of-five opening playoff series.
Watching Marbury and Garnett for those couple of years was not unlike what Thunder fans probably experienced when Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant blossomed and quickly became a playoff powerhouse. When you consider just how rapidly the Wolves young core was developing — these guys were barely removed from high school — it was fair to wonder if they might win multiple championships as they led the Timberwolves for the next dozen years.
If you need a reminder of how crazy-exciting they were, just check out the highlights on this weird music video I found on Youtube:
After a more-than-week-long roller coaster of reports involving Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and the LA Clippers, it seems that a deal has finally been struck. Rivers will coach the Clippers next season. Assuming he isn’t fired or doesn’t force another trade (!) he’ll also coach the Clips for the two seasons after that. The Celtics receive a first-round pick in 2015 and the financial relief of paying a cheaper coach to lead what looks to be a rebuilding team.
Perhaps more interesting is the part of the deal that has not — and probably will not — happen: Kevin Garnett won’t be joining his coach, as was originally hoped for and expected. Howard Beck reported in Friday’s Times that David Stern was skeptical that the teams could arrange transactions including both coach and players that pass muster under the collective bargaining agreement. Today, after the Rivers announcement, Paul Flannery reiterates that the league views the Rivers/KG situation as “either/or” for the Clippers, and that in light of today’s news, Garnett for DeAndre Jordan is off the table. Flannery notes Garnett’s no-trade clause and finds it likely that KG will remain a Celtic.
In the internet spirit of KNEE-JERK REACTION I thought I’d pay a quick visit to espn.com — specifically, the Trade Machine — and come up with a
n unlikely plausible trade proposal that brings Garnett back home to Minneapolis, where he spent his prime seasons as the greatest ever Timberwolf.
Why the Wolves do it:
KG played like his prime years tonight, albeit in fewer minutes.
I feel bad for the fans that only tuned in for the second half. After a couple competitive quarters of basketball that left the Wolves leading by 4 points, everything came unraveled for Rick Adelman’s team. Boston turned the halftime deficit into a 7-point lead after three. The third quarter was largely dominated by large Celtic power forward, Brandon Bass, who scored 10 points on 5-5 shooting in the period. The Wolves second unit, that played quite well in the first half, continued the struggles in the early fourth, seeing the Celtic lead extend to 9 points when Love and Pekovic came back in. Those subs didn’t help and the bleeding continued. Profusely. Boston’s lead ballooned to 15. In the first 6:08 of the final period the Wolves managed just 3 points, blending a toxic mix of bricked jumpers, botched layups, offensive fouls and turnovers, and above all else, missed free throws. Despite getting enough defensive stops to hold out a shred of hope through the 6-minute mark, the game was never again a close one.
Rather than harp on everything negative, I’ll start with some praise:
Paul Pierce is still a potent threat for Boston
Our Twolves play the Celtics tonight in Boston, my former home. I’ll be rooting for the Wolves, of course, but the Celtics are one of my favorite sideshows in the League, given not only that I lived in Boston for two years and followed the team closely, but also that they (still) have KG.
Speaking of KG: Garnett’s role remains in dispute, but still, the Celtics have beaten the Wolves pretty much ever since we dealt KG to Boston.
A bunch of tidbits below the fold:
image from aol.sportingnews.com
In case ya hadn’t heard, Dwight Howard is headed to Tinseltown. He joins Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Shaquille O’Neal on the list of superstar centers acquired by the Lakers in the middle of their prime. A player as dominant as Dwight Howard, in a league devoid of great centers, certainly has a high trade value. (Sixth highest in the NBA according to Bill Simmons, back in March.) Orlando must’ve gotten a haul in return for Dwight… Right? Continue reading
As the Wolves season inches closer to its end, (we’ve been screaming ‘uncle’ for weeks now, it seems) I’ve taken a bit more interest in some of the team’s former players, many of whom are playing meaningful roles on competitive teams. After watching Randy Foye posterize the mighty Serge Ibaka last night on national tv (more on this, below) I thought it’d be fun to scan the league for former Timberpups making various levels of noise in their respective situations. Without further ado, here is your 2011-12 Minnesota Timberwolves Alumni Team:
Bill Simmons works for ESPN
. He’s also called “The Sports Guy.” Apparently he writes a column called “The Sports Column
.” He also has a podcast called The B.S. Report
, which is a free-flowing conversation that occasionally touches on mature subject matter. You know the drill.
So yesterday Simmons did a two-part podcast: Part 1 featured Kevin Love and Wi-ZARDS superfan, Joe House ( Play Download
); Part 2 featured Dirk Nowitzski and Wi-ZARDS superfan Joe House (Play Download
). (CAVEAT: Neither of us have had an opportunity to listen to them yet because of these niggling “day jobs” we have to do, but we’re both pretty psyched to hear them because the Simmon-House duo rules and so do Dirk and K-Love.)
In anticipation of listening to these podcasts, and without a Wolves game to discuss, we decided to look back on our favorite BS Report moments and propose who we would pay to hear on future B.S. Reports.
Andy G’s Favorites
- Bill Walton (Describes the genius of John Wooden in ways only Walton can. Also, I believe this podcast holds the BS Report title for ‘most awkward ending’ when Bill S. asks some question about the late-70’s Blazers breaking up and Bill W. abruptly ends interview. Eds. note: I’m not able to find the direct link to the Walton podcast so I’m posting his general ESPN Audio link, which contains links to many sources of Walton goodness.–AG)
- 3-Man Weave with Mark Stein & Ric Bucher (Simmons loves the Celtics. Stein loves the Mavericks. Bucher loves the Lakers. They rib each other about these allegiances in funny ways, and all three are in touch with the league.)
- Chuck Klosterman (Klosterman could write or speak about tax returns and make them seem interesting. He also knows hoops (though more NCAA than NBA) and his discussions with Simmons on the BS Report are must-listen. One that sticks out is from the week that Charlie Sheen went batshit.
- Jalen Rose (No surprise that BS hired him for HIS OWN podcast on the Grantland Network. He knocked his BS Report out of the park. Lots of good stuff about 90’s NBA and the Fab Five.)
- Steve Kerr (Knows the game, has great stories, and speaks well. He’s a perfect fit for the podcast format.)
Patrick J’s Favorites
- David Kahn (Obviously.)
- Bob Ryan (Breakdown of Pierce as best Celtics scorer of all time–yes, greater than Legend; discussion of how McHale’s greatness is likely to be forgotten)
- Chris Herren (So much Boston here, it warmed my heart just to hear the accent. Also, penetrating discussion of LOYALTY and Rick Pitino. Verification of why Paul Pierce is great.)
- Joe House 2011/12 Season Preview, Part I and Part II(The 2011/12 season preview episodes is funny as hell. House says “Anus Kanter” and I believe he was being earnest about it. That NEVER happens.)
- Larry Bird (Actually, this one was kind of a yawner given that Legend is my all-time favorite basketball player. Bird opines on Rubio (yes, he’s great) and Kobe vs. LeBron (Both are great, Lebron might be more fun to play with, but you’re more likely to win rings if you’re on Kobe’s squad.
Worst B.S. Report
- Blake Griffin (He’s a more stale interview than Derrick Rose. Only sunshine here is that that hearing Simmons pulling teeth to get Griffin to talk was sort of entertaining ‘cause it was almost as hard to listen to as that scene in Swingers where Mikey keeps calling and leaving messages on that chick’s answering machine.)(Eds. note: Who am I forgetting? –PJ)
- (Eds. note: You are forgetting BILLY HUNTER: (ALL listeners were pissed off listening to it (an inherent truth when you cross people who care enough about league to listen to a Billy Hunter interview with outrage of same people from LOCKOUT) and Hunter had nothing interesting to add. I took away no enjoyment from that listen. At least when David Stern comes on, he’s going to piss you off in interesting ways.–AG)
Let’s up the ante: Who WOULD be a great BS Report guest? (Bill, are you reading?)