In order to fully appreciate what Kevin Garnett means to me, and every other member of the T-Wolves nation, you need to know what life was like before the Big Ticket punched his way into the NBA spotlight. You see, back before KG, the Timberwolves were the absolute laughingstock of the NBA. No team had a worse record or all-around worse luck than Minnesota. You might as well have re-named Murphy's age old philosophy, the Timberwolves law, because if anything could go wrong for this franchise, it did... And then some.
Before KG, the team's biggest star was Isaiah Rider, who's better known for his performances in the Minnesota State Prison League than for his brief stint in the NBA. Yeah, pathetic doesn't even begin to describe the Wolves situation at the time. In fact they were so inept, they couldn't even pull off a move to uproot the franchise and leave the mess in Minnesota behind.
But of course, as the saying goes, even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in while. Except in the Timberwolves case, this nut was the size of watermelon and named Kevin Garnett.
Even though KG was brought along slowly and didn't start until mid-way through his rookie year, every Wolves fan knew that this team had finally found that special player. And a year later, when he was paired up with Stephon Marbury and took the Timberwolves to their first-ever playoffs, the entire world fell in love with Kevin Garnett. His youthful exuberance, his respect for the game, and his freak-of-nature skills on the court, made him a fan favorite in every city the Wolves visited.
Of course things haven't been quite as rosy since those early days. Two years later, Stephon Marbury would force a trade back home to the East Coast that would effectively end Timberwolves fans' dreams of watching the next Stockton and Malone. It was an upheaval that the franchise is still trying to recover from today. Going with Terrell Brandon over Chauncey Billups, trading a draft pick for Marcus Banks, bad contracts like Troy Hudson and Marko Jaric's, the Joe Smith Scandal, Latrell Sprewell's hungry family, and many other travesties all stem from Marbury's original betrayal.
But throughout this mire of unfortunate circumstances Kevin Garnett has never followed in Stephon's steps and asked to be shown the door. In fact, all the Timberwolves nation has ever gotten from KG is his very best, night in, night out. Despite the overwhelming odds against him, Garnett has remained loyal to this franchise, some would say even to a fault. But whatever his decision to stay in Minnesota has cost him in playoff victories, he's more than made up for it in the love it's earned him from the fans.
As a nine year-old Timberwolves fan, I always had hope that "this could be the year." It was extremely naive considering the Wolves situation, but that's how you are when you're nine. Now, over thirteen years later, Kevin Garnett still has me saying "this could be the year", because with a player of his caliber, you're never far away from competing for a championship. And even when things don't go so well, as has been the case for the past two seasons, his love of the game and burning desire to win give us Wolves fans something worthwhile to watch, as well as hope for better days in the future.
Kevin Garnett has broken down every stereo-type of a selfish, me-first sports star. And as a result, you won't find a more beloved player in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Kevin Garnett, for all intents and purposes, is the Minnesota Timberwolves. And his hardwork and decidation to the fans and the game, make him the standard against which all the other members of the Hall of Legends should be measured.