April 9th, 2007; the last time Timberwolves legend Kevin Garnett suited up in his number 21 jersey. Starting alongside Garnett were Marko Jaric, Ricky Davis, Mike James, and Mark Blount. Besides Garnett, only one player on the 2006-2007 roster is still in the league (Randy Foye).
Obviously, much has changed since then, but what hasn’t is the Wolves lack of roster stability, as well as a penchant for losing. In fact, Minnesota has never had winning season without Kevin Garnett.
Which may be why Flip brought Garnett back. Garnett is the ultimate symbol of stability – he’s been in the league since 1995, has appeared in 1420 NBA games, and has always been a defensive force. When it comes to his legacy as a Timberwolf, it is unparalleled. No player has come close to matching the consistent greatness of Garnett’s first tenure as a wolf.
— Basketball Reference (@bball_ref) February 19, 2015
In his 20th season and at the age of 38, Garnett is not the player he once was. What he is, however, is a walking icon. To countless Minnesotans, Garnett is a figure that represents the times when it was cool to be a Timberwolves fan. With eight playoff appearances, an MVP award, and a conference finals appearance, in addition to a vibrant personality and a trash talking game like none other, KG made going to Target Center a must for even the most casual fans of sports.
So when KG made his return last night, it might as well have been 1995. The atmosphere at Target Center wasn’t just electric, it was rejuvenating. Garnett, the wily veteran, admitted the crowd made him feel like he was a rookie again.
When Garnett was introduced, the 19,856 people in attendance roared. It was a moment 8 years in the making, but ‘The Big Ticket’ was finally back.
The spectacle of it all nearly overshadowed the game itself, which might help explain the Wolves dismal start once the contest got underway. Minnesota started the game shooting 1/14, and with 4:18 remaining in the first quarter, found themselves down 18-3. Nerves were apparent, and the Wolves would need to settle down if they had any hope of a comeback.
It wouldn’t take long. The lid on the basket quickly opened up, and shots started falling. The 15 point deficit was neutralized by halftime, and the Wolves went into the locker room with the score tied at 42.
KG wasn’t the only star making a comeback. Rapper Montell Jordan was the surprise halftime performer. He sang his hit song “This is How We Do It,” which was released in 1995 (there’s a theme here). Jordan even changed up some of his lyrics in light of the occasion.
Once the 2nd half began, the floodgates opened. Minnesota outscored Washington 55-35 in the half, dominating the Wizards in every statistical category. With every basket, the cheers grew, and the Wolves looked to be legitimately enjoying themselves on the court.
This team didn’t feel like the one that had struggled for the first 55 games of the season. There was a new presence, if not a familiar one. KG was constantly in the ears of his teammates (not literally), was a vocal leader on the defensive end, and overall, milked every second of his return for all its worth. The best moment came during a timeout, where a portly fan without a shirt danced like you would probably expect him to. KG looked over and promptly saluted.
This is how we do it https://t.co/Y7ljSmgSys
— timberpups.com (@timberpupsblog) February 26, 2015
Garnett’s stat line wasn’t eye-popping by any measure. He played a shade over 18 minutes, logging 5 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal, and a pair of highlight blocks. What was and will continue to be significant, more than the stats or the trash talk or anything else, is that KG is back. And this time, he’s here to stay.
KG: "This is full circle. … Tonight it was just over the top. I did not know the city missed me like this."
— Timberwolves PR (@Twolves_PR) February 26, 2015