Wolves welcome Kevin Garnett back

ESPN logo
Wednesday, February 25, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS -- Nearly eight years after he left Minnesota, Kevin Garnett's goal hasn't changed.

He still wants to bring a championship to the Timberwolves. That may not happen as a player for the 38-year-old.

But maybe it will as an owner.

A player that needs no introduction in these parts was reintroduced on Tuesday, four days after the Timberwolves acquired him in a trade with the Brooklyn Nets. Garnett also said he's in this for the long haul and hopes to one day own the team that he put on the map.

"I figure if LeBron can go home, (shoot), why can't I?" Garnett said.

Garnett was born in South Carolina and became a high school sensation in the Chicago area at Farragut Academy, but Minnesota will always be home to him. He was drafted by the Timberwolves straight out of high school in 1995, before it became fashionable to make that leap.

He spent 12 seasons in Minnesota before being traded to Boston in 2007. And when he won a championship with the Celtics after that season, he said, "This is for Sota," a term of endearment he has long used to describe the state.

Still, if he had regrets over his 19-year career, it's that he wasn't able to bring a title to a franchise and a sports market that has long suffered with the misfortunes of its teams.

He spoke earlier in the season about hoping to buy the Timberwolves a few years down the road and reiterated that desire on Tuesday.

Wolves owner Glen Taylor has been interested in the past in unloading the team for the right offer, but has yet to find a group that would be interested in taking a minority role initially before becoming the majority owner in a few years.

"My goal since I've been in the league was to win a championship, and I wanted it to be here in the Twin Cities," Garnett said. "I've always wanted that. I wanted to be a part of that the first time this franchise went over the hump and I got a taste of that in the Western Conference (finals). I've been thirsty ever since. Once you get that taste, you never lose that."

While he is playing, Garnett will be relied upon to serve as a mentor in practice to a young and impressionable roster, including Ricky Rubio, Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine and Gorgui Dieng.

Even though he remains a beloved figure in Minnesota, Garnett isn't the force of nature as a player that he was when he left in 2007. But he said he is comfortable taking a lesser role as a player while helping set an example for the young players.

And it didn't take long for him to start.

Garnett practiced with the Timberwolves for the first time on Tuesday, and he wasted little time making his presence felt in front of his new teammates. He surprised the 19-year-old Wiggins by getting to the gym at 9:30 a.m., then barked at big man Nikola Pekovic during practice to set an early tone of intensity.

"He yelled at Pek twice already when I think nobody in his career yell at him to run back on defense, so that's good," Rubio said. "Everybody listens and everybody respect him. He's doing everything it takes to get better."

More than any contributions Garnett will provide during games, coach Flip Saunders is hoping the franchise's biggest star will help to mold an impressionable young group of Wolves, much the same way Sam Mitchell and Terry Porter did for Garnett in his early years in the league.

"He's our history. He's it. He is the face of the franchise," said Mitchell, now an assistant coach on the team. "So to bring him back, and these guys get to experience and be around him and learn from him and say, 'I spent time with Kevin Garnett,' it's going to enhance their growth by leaps and bounds."

Related Video