A response to Kevin Garnett's TNT All-Star Interview.
It's me, "One Shot", DeROK. I don't know if you remember the day we met or not. I know you meet new people every day and there's no reason for me to think I really stuck out. It was back in the summer of 2003, the day you shot an Adidas commercial with T-Mac and Duncan at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, NJ. I waited outside, not knowing if I'd get to see you, or if you'd even pay attention to me. But it just so happens that I did get to see you, and you did pay attention. I'll never forget it. It's not every day you get to meet your hero. The last words I said to you as you walked away was "Hey Kevin, we're getting a championship this year!" You turned, smiled, and said "We'll see. Hopefully."
We didn't get a championship last season, but the Wolves deserved one. We all know deep within us that we were one healthy point guard short of holding that trophy in the air last year. I guess it just wasn't in the cards. But knowing how close we came, and how good it felt to finally succeed after years of heartache, I'm sure that you, just like every loyal Minnesota fan out there thought that this would be the year. "Our Team. Our Time." Right? So it was a bit surreal for me to sit in front of the television yesterday afternoon and watch your 1 on 1 interview on TNT. You should have been sky high telling John Thompson how amazing it felt to have the best record in the league. Instead, I saw a side of you that I had never seen before. It's a side I never should have had to see. But it was a side that made me have more respect for you than any other athlete in the world. And that's why I'm writing this...
Yeah Kevin, Momma said there will be days like this. But she didn't say that there would be weeks, months, an entire season like this. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to go through the aches and pains of each game, to endure the physical toll that it takes on your body, to give everything inside of you and then some, and then see a 27-27 record in the standings. I don't know how you can act with such class and continue to give of yourself the way you do, when you've watched some of your teammates act so selfishly. But you do. You said it best yourself. "I'm out there. I suit up every night. I suit up every night - banged up, hurt, whatever. 100%...30%...ain't no numbers. It's in my heart and you can't measure that."
I've been a fan of the Minnesota Timberwolves for as long as I can remember. I don't know what it's like to not root for this team. I'm with this team 100%, through thick and thin. It's a part of me. No matter how bad things are going for me, a win makes it all feel better. And no matter how great things may be, a loss eats me up inside. So it should come as no surprise that I teared up right along with you as I watched you say the words, "I'm losing. I'm losing. I'm losing... I'm losing."
Kevin, you're the reason why I play basketball. Growing up, I was undersized and never got a shot at playing. When I finally grew, I couldn't shake that label of "the small kid", and still didn't get my chance. No matter how hard I practiced, or how well I played, it was never good enough.They just wouldn't let me lose the label. And so naturally, I received motivation from you. I don't think anyone's ever called you small, but I know they've said that you weren't good enough. Watching you through those seven years of first round playoff defeats, you had more unjust criticisms thrown your way than any player should have to deal with. No matter how hard you tried, no matter what numbers you put up, no matter how far your team overachieved, they still labeled you as the guy who couldn't win a playoff series. Because Tim Duncan was lucky enough to have a center named David Robinson instead of Rasho Nesterovic, he became "the best player in the league". No matter what you did, it seemed that no one would give you your dues. But you didn't let it stop you from working harder, practicing more, and trying again. Because of your example, I wouldn't let it either.
"This ain't golf. This ain't tennis. This ain't about me... It's about us. It ain't about nothing else I'm doing. I'm just one of the pieces."
I don't think that there's another all-star in the league who would say something like that. Especially when they're leading their team in nearly every category. But that's you, Kevin. That's what you're all about. Loyalty, selflessness, courage, hard work, determination, perseverance, passion - those are all traits that you've infused into this team, into us as fans. So many of the things that are important to me have been embodied by this team over the past few years, and you're the one that put them there.
My favorite part of that interview was when John asked you if you regretted staying in Minnesota. You had taken you time speaking throughout, but this time you didn't hesitate for a moment. "No. No. Ne-ver." It seemed as if the thought had never crossed your mind. I'm sure that it has, of course. How could it not? This team has been through so much. It seems like every time we pick ourselves up off the ground, something comes up that drives us further down into it. When I stop and actually think about that long list of disappointments, frustrations, and heartbreaks, I stand in awe that somebody had the courage to stay here through it all. With Flip gone, you're the last of the breed. You're the only one that's been in that locker room after each playoff defeat, after Steph left, after the Joe Smith scandal, after we lost Malik. You're still here. You're a survivor.
I'm studying to become a doctor. And it can be tough. Real tough. There are times when the work is piled up, the deadline is drawing near, and the pressure is weighing down on me, that I just want to pack it all up and throw in the towel. But I don't. I can't. And part of that is due to all those years of following this team rubbing off on me. Timberwolves fans don't give up. We've endured so much along the way that if we were going to give up, we'd have done it all ready. You did that to us. We don't quit, because you didn't quit. You said that you didn't want people watching the interview to think that you were weak. Kevin, how could anyone call you weak, when you've made us so strong?
"I see the Spurs. I see Shaq with his new team. I talk to Chauncey a lot. We got a lot of talent on our team just like any of those teams I just named. We're in this situation here, but it is what it is. It's killing me."
It just doesn't seem right to me. You shouldn't have to go through a season like the one this team's having. After the way you've performed and the responsibility that you've taken upon your shoulders, you don't deserve to be in this situation. You've spent your whole career looking for a teammate with the talent of Shaq or Kobe. Yet they let selfish pride get in the way of success and tore their team to pieces. They should be the ones that are dealing with pain of losing, not you. But right now Shaq's sitting on the top of the East, and Kobe's holding the eighth playoff spot, while you're on the outside looking in. It would be killing me too.
"I do give a lot. I give two cents. It ain't because I got to. It's in me. This is how I came out of the womb. This is how I am. I'm built like this. You don't play ball cause you got to. You don't run sprints cause you got to. I don't have to go into the gym and put up extra shots because I got to. I ain't got to do none of that. This is how I'm built. This is me."
Yeah, Momma said there will be days like this. And the important word in all of that is "days". It's going to get better. It's got to. And I believe it will. Because with a player like you leading the charge, success just has to come our way. If this is a league where a person with your passion and drive can't win a title, then it's a title that's not worth winning. If there's any shred of justice left, you'll be in playoffs this April, and you won't suffer an eighth first round exit. "Our Team. Our Time." We have to keep believing it. We have to start feel'n it. You said it yourself, we've got a lot of talent on our team. There's no reason why the sky shouldn't be the limit. If it means that we have to go into San Antonio in the first round and take them down to win the title, then that's what we're going to do. This team proved last season that it has what it takes to be the last team standing in the end. Now every person in the world is doubting us. It's time to prove them wrong again. It's time to stop losing.
"I can't accept losing. I won't accept losing. I won't ever accept losing, ever. I don't want anyone to ever be able to call me a loser to my face."
Kevin Garnett a loser? I won't hesitate for a moment. "No. No. Ne-ever."