That is the big question that all of the fans and media are asking me constantly. Today a trusted media member told me that KG had been planning on coming, but that now it was “a decision that would be made by the Celtics Organization” and not by Kevin Garnett. I wouldn’t even waste Kevin’s time by calling him to find out if he’s coming or not. Kev loves Minnesota. If he can be here, he probably will, if he can’t make it due to his team telling him to stay home and rehab he won’t make it. That’s just the way it goes for NBA players as ulitmately it’s Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge’s decision.
But regardless we are read for this game. We felt we played great in Boston earlier in the season and gave ourselves a chance to win on the road. Our practice today was high energy and intense. Theo Ratliff got some live repetitions today in practice too, so that was great news.
We finally won our first game and it happened to come in front of our home fans in Minnesota. We had a lot of guys step up in the win. Rashad McCants had 30 points, Al Jefferson had his normal dominant performance and Antoine Walker had a huge game in crunch time to put us over the top. Marko Jaric made a ton of hussle plays. I wanted to talk a little bit about the game.
We were in Turkey for training camp which was going long and hard. Late in one practice session, Rashad McCants stole the ball and then took off down court for a dunk. All of a sudden, he stopped dribbling and staggered off the court in obvious pain. He strained his hamstring and then was on the injured list for a few days. Even earlier this season, he tweaked his ankle and had to sit out. I watched Rashad work tirelessly in the training room to get healthy to come back ASAP to help the team. Rashad is mentally tough and has a huge heart and he showed that once again tonight. Rashad is a team player first whose intelligence about the game reminds me of my old Lakers teammate Robert Horry.
In all my years of playing basketball you’re always taught not to go for pump fakes of opposing players. Especially when an opponent is trying to post you up, you never want to jump in the air to block the shot. It just puts you too much at risk for a foul. I’ve only been on the same team with Al Jefferson for two months, but I have never seen a post player get so many of his defenders up in the air and then just drive past them. Each game, I know it’s going to happen that he gets his post defender jumping in the air like a pogo-stick. The other day in practice I told Al, that I’ve never seen a player get so many defenders to go for his fake as does. Al told me that he learned his fake from Paul Pierce and their years together in Boston. Tonight was no different as Al got people in the air and utilized his signature, go-to move of the soft jump hook that seemed to be unstoppable.
Another old Celtic really stole the show in tonight’s game. We got Antoine Walker in a trade from the Heat and he was huge for us. I’ve enjoyed practicing with and against Antoine in practice every day. Antoine Walker is a three time all-star in the NBA and he gives so much energy and attention in practice every day that it’s kind of revitalizing to everyone on the team. I knew Antoine Walker the three point shooter, rebounder, great post up player and ball-handler, but the Antoine Walker I didn’t know is the player who knows every defensive rotation like the back of his hand. In the fourth quarter tonight Antoine floated a difficult 10 foot floater over the Sacramento defense that brought the crowd to their feet in the Target Center. When he came to the bench a fan yelled out, “Antoine, let’s see the shimmie!” I looked over and I saw Antoine smile and then just chill. I think he’s saving the shimmie for bigger and better things for the Timberwolves this season. Having a true veteran like Antoine on our team helps everyone from 1 to 15.
For a little more background on Antoine, (and the origin of the shimmie), you can go to his official website at
Well, that’s all here. I should receive the medical clearance soon to play. When I get it, I hope to earn my way back onto the court to help my team in any way possible.
Today I got the unimaginable news that Kevin Garnett was traded to the Boston Celtics. Being out here in Minnesota and hearing this news was interesting because it is the most talked about thing in almost every circle in which I move. Friends from out of state are emailing me about it. A non-sports radio station “wished Kevin safe travels to Boston” tonight at 10pm while I was driving home.
Here are a few memories of the Kevin Garnett that I know. This is the side that the public doesn’t see every day.
One Cardinal rule in our locker room is this: Never wear gear from another NBA team. So when our new assistant trainer from Oklahoma had a Dallas Mavericks screensaver on his cellphone, Kevin Garnett found it and enforced the penalty. When I say penalty, Kevin made him sprint two hundred yards from our team bus to a pickup truck parked in the distance and then yell out “I love the Timberwolves!” three times.
When Craig Smith came into practice wearing some Golden State Warriors practice shorts, Kevin brought out the entire team and had Craig go to center court and hold up the shorts and say “I will never wear these shorts again,” while he held the shorts up and walked around three times. Everyone was laughing. Craig was laughing too. KG loves Craig on and off the court. I’ve never seen a rookie big man like Craig come in and win over the trust and confidence of Kevin so quickly.
Our offense calls for two “big men” to be on the court at the same time and it takes quite a while to learn all of the defensive rotations. Kevin Garnett expects nothing short of perfection on defense. Mark Blount is one of the smartest veteran centers in the NBA and he and Kevin read each other all the time. Where I have been impressed with Craig is that he’s beyond his years on defense. On offense, he’s been tearing up the other team’s interior and scoring in bunches. But in some ways he’s been even better on defense.
But getting back to the theme of this blog. I never thought Kevin Garnett would be apprehended by our own locker room fashion police. But it did happen a few months ago. It all started after practice one day when a few of us got into the locker room to shower and get ready to go home. KG was still down in the weight room lifting weights. Rashad McCants went over to Kevin’s locker and pulled out his shoes and put them out for everyone to see. “What the heck are these?” Rashad said as he pointed to Kevin’s shoes. As everyone looked down to Kevin’s locker we were shocked to see that his shoes had the words “Portland Trailblazers” alongside the Trailblazers logo! All of this was of course in Trailblazer red and black colors!
I’ve never seen so many guys so excited to bust Kevin’s chops. When Kevin finally got up to the locker room he walked in and saw his shoes out for everyone to see. Kevin busted out smiling and yelled out, “Who was in my locker! I don’t know who was in my locker!” Rashad stood up and called out, “I peeped it out when you walked in here this morning!” Trenton Hassell was having a field day. “Throw those shoes in the trash” he yelled out. It was my job to take the shoes and stomp on them and then take them to the garbage can. Kevin was laughing so hard. I guess Adidas had sent out a bunch of walking shoes to Kevin and the shoes all had logos of different NBA teams.
Kevin told us how he had gotten up that morning and tried on the Portland shoes and that they had looked good. So he asked his wife “What do you think? Can I wear these in to practice?”
“Well Kevin, I don’t think so. I mean, the Trailblazers are in your conference and you play against them, right?….” she said.
Kevin decided to wear the shoes in anyway and explained how he “had pushed his jeans down over the Trailblazers logo and walked into the locker room really quickly.” He even showed us how he had pushed his shoes way to the back of his locker area under his chair so that none of us would see the shoes. Well, nothing gets past Rashad fashion wise. We had a good laugh that day. But the story didn’t end there. Trenton Hassell called out:
“Man I’m going to use those shoes…..I’m getting them out of the garbage can. I’ve got my guy in Chattangooga Tennesse and he’s 6’10” and wears size fourteen too!”
Back to a serious note. Kevin Garnett is one of the mot loyal individuals I have ever met in my life. We’re all gong to miss him and we all wish him well.
We are struggling right now plain and simple. Our trainer Gregg Farnam had me stay at home so I was not at Boston for the game. Gregg wanted me to get a lot of treatment for my injured ankle so that hopefully i can get back to playing this week. I am actually dying to be ready for the Lakers game. It’s always great playing against Phil Jackson and Kobe.
I was lucky to have TV’s in our training room and weight room, so while I was doing all of the rehab in the Target Center with our assistant trainer, I watched as much of the game as I could. Troy Hudson, Garnett and Ricky Davis all hit huge three pointers for us. But it was really Troy who gave us a huge spark. Troy has always had big games against the Lakers, so I’m thinking he’ll probably start again on Tuesday when L.A. comes to the Twin Cities.
Having a sprained ankle is brutal. You sit there and basically work out for hours each day doing ankle drills, stationary bike and the Eliptical Machine. Then you try to freeze your foot (not really, but it just feels like it) with ice for 20 minutes to get the swelling out. I REALLy am hoping to be back soon. Man, I neglected this blog for a little while because I was so busy with ankle stuff, but I’ll be writing more stuff soon.
My old teammate Ervin Johnson used to say “365 days is too long not to laugh.” I know we’re losing, but I’m going to try to use some humor in the locker room to get us more loose and back on track. I’m going to share some stuff on this blog too that has happened in the locker room in the last few months that’s pretty funny too. Have a great Monday !!!
At our game this past weekend against Golden State, we had a pretty big name in the world of sports sitting courtside. Sugar Ray Leonard was in town to do a promotional spot with one of the team’s corporate sponsors. It was cool to see a boxing legend up close. He was a champion at five different weight classes during his 20-year career. That is pretty amazing to be that successful for that long in a very rugged profession. Two of the member’s of the dance team presented him with a personalized Wolves’ jersey during a timeout. He reciprocated by giving each of them a little peck on the cheek.
After the game, Sugar Ray came into our locker room to say hello to Kevin Garnett and the rest of the guys. He told KG that it was his second time he had visited the Twin Cities and said it seemed like a great area. Then Ricky Davis went over to say hello to him. KG introduced Ricky to Sugar Ray and said, “Ray, Ricky’s pretty good with his hands too.” Ray smiled and said, “Are you?” to Ricky and Ricky replied with a simple, “Yeah, I am.” Then Sugar Ray showed us that if he were to box against Ricky, (a taller opponent) he would try to attack his midsection with a series of jabs, rather than going for head shots. Sugar Ray really seemed like a fun guy who was friendly, outgoing and genuine.
When I was talking to Sugar Ray about boxing, he showed me a few moves and told me about how “champions are made.” He said the most important thing as a boxer to be able to take a punch. Then he asked me if it was okay for him to show me a few things to which I said, “Of course.” It was awesome to meet an athlete of that caliber and I think the entire team hopes to see him again down the road.
We have got to face Yao Ming again this week. I enjoy him as a person, as he is one of the real class acts in the NBA. Yao came into the league a few years ago and has really become a dominating force. He is 7’6”. I’m not sure that anyone can fully comprehend his height until you stand right next to him and realize that your neck is totally bent just to look up at him. In preparing for him you just try to tailor a plan to some of his strengths and try to find a way to keep him out of the post.
This season has been a little bit of a roller coaster, but in general I really believe that we are starting to come together. The players we acquired from Boston are really contributing, whether it be as starters or coming off the bench. Marcus Banks was inserted as the starting point guard and we are 3-1 with him in there. Ricky has been just phenomenal scoring 20 or more points every game. Mark Blount has been solid as the starting center and Justin Reed has given us great energy off the bench every night. I truly believe that we are going in the right direction and that we are going to make a push for the division championship and for the playoffs from here on out.
Wow!!! Last night I was sitting in my hotel room and the phone rang…….no one ever calls me in my hotel room unless it’s a tricky radio show just trying to see if anyone on our team will answer their hotel phone. All of us players use each others cell phones. It was Fred Hoiberg telling me that Wally, Dwayne Jones and Kandi-man just got traded to Boston! I was shocked. Any time you lose teammates and friends to a trade it’s hard. Today in Shoot-around KG looked at me and said, “Man, it’s a hard day today.” Kevin Garnett was close to both Wally and Michael and he is one person who really values friendships and relationships. I think Kevin is going to miss everybody who got traded.
I stopped by Wally’s hotel room and Michael’s room too. Mike had stepped out for a second to go down to the front desk so I sent him a text. When he texted me back he touched on the fact that our two careers had so many parallels. We both went to college in Northern California then ended up in Los Angeles for a number of years playing for the clippers and the Lakers respectively. Then we spent two plus years together in MN and became great friends. At the end of his text he said, something along the lines of “I’ll jump hook you when I see you next,” meaning, he was going to shoot his jump hook over me. Well if you look at the schedule, I’ll be seeing him really soon!
When I saw Wally in his hotel room he seemed kind of reflective. I know I am going to miss Wally a ton. Wally has given his heart and soul to the Wolves and to the state of Minnesota for almost 7 years. I think it’s hard for him to leave, but at the same time he acknowledged that in this game you can be traded at any time and that is one thing you can’t control. I said to Wally, “So do you and Mike jump on a plane tommorrow and fly to Boston?” Wally laughed and said, “I don’t know.” Wally talked about how he was going to miss everyone and how at the same time he was excited about a new challenge and a new opportunity. I think Wally’s wife Shannon is due to give birth to their second child on Monday!!!
Dwayne Jones is the other part of this equation. Dwayne is a GREAT player who is playing in the developmental league right now with whom I had a really close bond given that we spent a lot of time together in training camp. We lost Nikoloz Tshkosvili as well and I’m going to miss him a lot too. Nikoloz and I used to play a lot of one-on-one before games. I think Phoenix is the perfect fit for Nikoloz as he is very skilled and runs like a deer even though he is 7 feet tall.
When the dust settles I think this trade will be good for everyone involved. Ricky Davis is a great player who is emotional and very tough. I think the Target Center is going to like his style of play. Blount is long, skilled and a great shooter. Marcus Banks gives us yet another option at the point and Justin Reed is a tough, smart player who will be awesome off the bench. Watch for some Ricky Davis highlight reel dunks in the Target center!