Kevin Garnett and Sam Cassell are together once again.
NBA Quarterly Report
At the risk of sounding like a total hypocrite after writing my piece about contract buyouts, I am extremely happy to see Sam Cassell once again paired with Kevin Garnett. I certainly don't like the way Sam I Am weaseled his way out of L.A. and over to Boston, but I won't let those circumstances stop me from enjoying what's to come.The biggest regret of my life as a sports fan is that I never got to see the 2003-04 Timberwolves win the NBA Championship. Ask any Minnesota fan and they'll gladly tell you how amazing that season's squad was. They were simultaneously the biggest underdogs and yet the most formidable opponent. They loved playing together, they came up big in the biggest of moments, and they collectively took the most downtrodden fanbase in the league and lifted them to unimaginable heights. In my entire life, I have never loved a team like I loved that team or enjoyed as season like I enjoyed that season.
And it was all thanks to Sam Cassell.
Sam was the catalyst that made that team tick. It was his uncanny knack for clutch situations that allowed Kevin Garnett to finally be Kevin Garnett. He took the burden of the franchise off KG's shoulders and let him play free and unfettered. The result was a career season and an NBA MVP award for The Big Ticket. Sam was the guy that everyone on that squad looked to for reassurance. When the team was trailing, everyone knew they still had a chance because Sam was somehow going to come up with a huge play. I'll never forget the night the Wolves, down 0-1 in their series against the Kings, were trailing by 10 with 2 minutes to play. The season was hanging by a thread as there would be almost no recovering from an 0-2 deficit with three of the next five games in Sacramento. In those two minutes, Cassell put on a performance as good as any in NBA history and resussitated the Timberwolves' season.He nailed big shot after big shot, and when the night was over and victory was won, he ran down the sidelines and pantomimed holding his giant "grapefruits". Without a doubt, Sam Cassell was the lifeblood of that team. So it should come as no surprise that the Wolves eventually fell in the Conference Finals when Sam went out with a hip injury. To this day, I still believe with all my heart that if Cassell was healthy, the Timberwolves would have captured the NBA title in '04. The contract disputes that happened the next season soured many Wolves faithful on Sammy, but in my eyes, nothing that followed could ever taint the pure magic of that Western Conference Finals run.
I'm sorry for spouting all that Timberwolves history in a Boston Celtics piece, but without knowing the background it would be hard to understand why this pairing means so much to me. I feel like Cassell teaming up with Garnet in Boston is one of those rare moments in life where you actually get a second chance.I'll never get to see that 2003-04 Timberwolves team win an NBA championship, but I just may get to see the two players who were most instrumental in that season claim a title, and claim it together. The uniforms may be different, but the two men wearing them are still the same.Sam remains the yin to Kevin's yang. They're the loud-mouthed assassin and the humble warrior, ice-cold confidence and burning passion, the wiley veteran and Da Kid. Together, they form a tandem as unlikely, yet as dangerous, as any other this league has ever seen, and they just may be exactly what the Boston Celtics needed to reach the place my favorite Timberwolves team never got to.