Souhan: Without Garnett, there would be no Timberwolves

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On Saturday, Kevin Garnett was selected for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. There is no higher honor in basketball. To observers of Minnesota sports history, the honor seems insufficient.

The Timberwolves want to remove Garnett’s number every time he returns to the Target Center for a ceremony, but even this event would seem insignificant, considering its impact.

Shouldn’t the State all take off their jerseys? Shouldn’t it be draped over Spoonbridge and Cherry, or on the back of Paul Bunyan? Shouldn’t we at least name one of our lakes after him?

His induction into the Hall of Fame is the last reminder that Garnett has been Minnesota’s most precious and indispensable athlete since … well, maybe never?

Before their season was interrupted due to the pandemic, the Timberwolves were going through another phase of reconstruction.

Do not hesitate to believe in this one, whether it is because you like the CV of Gersson Rosas or the skills of D’Angelo Russell, but do not forget that the promise that this team posted is countered by the facts : the Timberwolves are the last in the Western Conference, ahead of only a team that was not trying to win (Golden State).

Even with Garnett’s contributions, the Timberwolves rank among the worst franchises in the last 30 years or more in American professional sport.

To contemplate what the wolves would have been without Garnett is to contemplate forgetting.

The wolves would likely have been closed or moved. They can still be winless in a playoff series.

The Wolves selected Garnett with the fifth pick in the 1995 draft. He spent a season on internship. Entering its second NBA season, the Timberwolves have been in existence for seven seasons and have yet to win 30 games in one season.

For the next eight seasons, featuring Garnett’s dominance, the Wolves would win between 40 and 58 games. They would make the playoffs for eight consecutive seasons. They would easily organize the best season in franchise history.

In 2003-04, the chance to play with Garnett drew Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell to Minnesota, and the Wolves qualified for the Western Conference final. If Cassell hadn’t hurt, the Wolves could have qualified for the final.

The following season, Cassell and Sprewell, angry that they did not receive a contract extension, imploded the organization and sacked Flip Saunders. The Wolves declined and traded Garnett on July 31, 2007.

Without Garnett, the Wolves made the playoff streak – losing to the Rockets in four games with central player Jimmy Butler.

Without Garnett, the Timberwolves would have been Washington generals, but not as entertaining.

Who could even rank second on the list of Minnesota’s most important professional athletes?

Randy Moss was exceptional, but he could touch the ball five or eight times per game.

Football players work in teams and need a lot of help. They cannot dominate like a great basketball player can.

No one in Wild’s history has risen to Garnett’s level due to the nature of the sport and the poor franchise.

Maya Moore has become one of the best basketball players in the world with the Lynx. She also played alongside several stars and Olympians. She may be the closest Minnesota to another Garnett, but has received much more help on the field.

Kirby Puckett was the most impactful twin in recent history. Baseball-Reference.com lists hitters comparable to Puckett like Don Mattingly, Cecil Cooper and Magglio Ordonez.

Three quality players and hitters. Three non-Halls of Famers.

Puckett gets points for excellent service, entertainment value, and his otherworldly performance in Game 6 in the 1991 World Series, but not enough to consider him equal to Garnett.

At Basketball-Reference.com, Garnett’s comparables are Charles Barkley, Dirk Nowitzki, Julius Erving and Tim Duncan.

Without a doubt Hall of Famers.

And Puckett is not the greatest twin of all time. This distinction belongs to Harmon Killebrew.

The Killer is a worthy challenger to Garnett in terms of size and impact. If Garnett has an advantage over The Killer, it would be that in baseball, it is more difficult for a player to raise a franchise.

Garnett’s anger over the Timberwolves’ treatment prevented him from accepting the organization’s honor.

We hope that when basketball resumes, Garnett will have softened his position. It is high time that our state and the Wolves celebrate Minnesota’s most precious player.

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