A beginning and an end
After giving his all to 'Sota, KG set to do same for C's
Posted: Monday October 8, 2007 2:18PM; Updated: Monday October 8, 2007 4:05PM
LONDON -- There was a respectful distance Monday between Kevin Garnett and the team for which he used to play, a moat of sorts in this land of castles and towers and palaces.
It was an attractive, cordial moat, replete with smiles, handshakes and man-hugs as the Boston Celtics walked into the magnificent O2 Arena in North Greenwich a few minutes before the Minnesota Timberwolves left. Andre Deloya, the Wolves' beloved physical therapist, visited for a couple of minutes as Garnett pulled on his sneakers. Trainer Greg Farnum, too. Coach Randy Wittman. Rashad McCants. Even Kevin McHale, the man who traded Garnett and ultimately let him down, stopped by.
"Getting used to all this green,'' Garnett said, the Celtics' future Hall of Fame power forward kidding the Celtics' most recent Hall of Fame power forward about the team's color scheme.
'Avin' a laugh, as Ricky Gervais would say. Cheers.
Then again, as the recorded voices incessantly remind you in the London Underground: Mind the gap. The gap -- the moat -- no matter how affable, is real now. Who's "us'' and who's "them'' will get straightened out a little more Wednesday night when the participants in the NBA's biggest offseason trade play a preseason game here. But Garnett sounded as if he already had a pretty good start, not unlike his 19 points, 17 rebounds and five steals against Toronto on Saturday in Rome.
"Y'know what's crazy? A lot of the players and the coaches, the people I obviously grew with in Minnesota, are gone now,'' he said before his new club's practice. "Some of the [staff] people that [fans] don't really know are there, but teammates, people I grew with, are gone. It makes it a little more easier.
"Obviously, they still have some of the young boys I had under my umbrella a little bit, but it makes it easier just knowing that people I did grow with aren't there. Not to say it makes it easy.''
It is quite likely -- someone call the Elias Sports Bureau -- that Garnett had more teammates come and go, during his 12 seasons in Minnesota, than any other one-, two- or even three-team star in the NBA in that span. From Terry Porter, Sam Mitchell, Doug West and Stephon Marbury near the start, through Tom Gugliotta, Terrell Brandon, Malik Sealy and Wally Szczerbiak in the middle, to Sam Cassell, Latrell Sprewell, Ricky Davis and Randy Foye near the end, Garnett stayed, giving the franchise its face through three or four Wolves generations. Actually, mutations might be a better word, given the often grisly results.
Now he is starting over with an entirely new crew. At age 31. With more NBA minutes on his legs (37,539), playoff and regular season, than his old boss McHale (35,834) logged in his career. Garnett has Ray Allen and Paul Pierce in the Cassell and Sprewell roles in what Boston hopes will be variation on the best season in Wolves history, the 2003-04 edition that won 58 games and reached the Western Conference finals. Anything short of that, over in the East, figures to be a disappointment.
And Garnett will be doing it all for Southies now rather than for "'Sota,'' the place so many other players shiver and sneer at but the place he stayed, for better or worse, for a dozen years.