Wessel: The only appropriate welcome for Kevin Garnett is indifference
Kevin Garnett has proven again that the nickname given to him as a lanky, 18-year-old rookie with the Minnesota Timberwolves still applies.
In short, "Da Kid" still has a lot of growing up to do.
"It's always special to come back to true fans," Garnett told the Boston Herald on Thursday, one day before returning to Target Center to face his old team.
"But as far as that franchise, I have nothing positive to say. I think Kevin Love's playing at a high level. I think that he has rejuvenated the city as far as basketball goes. Other than that, nothing else."
Garnett's comments served as a Molotov cocktail thrown onto a story that had pretty much burned out. Fans had moved on for the most part, much more content to watch the young Wolves on the upswing than care about the 35-year-old Garnett limping to the barn.
Hell, Vanilla Ice performing at halftime on Friday was generating more buzz than the return of Garnett and his aging band of merry warriors. But Garnnett's verbal jab -- which came from out of nowhere, mind you -- has thrown salt in old wounds.
The fans that worshiped the ground he walked on are upset Garnett could possibly hold a grudge against a franchise that paid him upwards of $175 million, gave him an unprecedented amount of control behind the scenes and sent him to a contender when it was clear his championship ring wasn't coming in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
Garnett, meanwhile, somehow still holds a grudge against the franchise that did so much for him because -- well, he has never really said exactly why.
The obvious answers are because management didn't do enough to surround him with talent while he was here and owner Glen Taylor accused him of tanking by sitting out the final five games of the 2006-07 season.
Now fans are angry and some are even considering booing Garnett when he is announced Friday. But that anger is misguided. If you look at the quote again, Garnett gives love to the fans of Minnesota. He always has, even giving the fans of Minnesota a shout-out after winning his title with the Celtics.
His grudge -- as silly and immature as it may be -- is with Taylor, not with the fans. And let's not forget, the fans weren't exactly chums with Taylor and Kevin McHale at the time, either. They're angry about the same thing Garnett seemed to be -- the lack of talent surrounding their All-Star.
What fans should be angry about is Garnett's unwillingness to move on, let sleeping dogs lie and also accept the responsibility that he was as much to blame for the mess in Minnesota as anybody.
It was Garnett's salary that made it nearly impossible for the Wolves to bring in young, high-priced talent.
It was Garnett's insistence on signing his buddies -- no matter how untalented -- to extensions and free-agent deals that hamstrung the franchise.
It was Garnett's petulance behind the scenes that began to wear on everyone from Taylor on down. Whether it was infamously asking for money if the team was going to give away bobbleheads of his likeness or just being a difficult person to deal with, there weren't many tears shed in the organization when he was shipped out.
Now, Garnett is playing the role of jilted lover who needs to bring up the past and try to walk all over his ex again.
Fans shouldn't boo Garnett on Friday. They shouldn't cheer him either. Just show total indifference. Why give him the attention he so clearly seeks? Fans should save their energy to give Love a pop that puts any standing ovation Garnett ever received to shame.
If Garnett isn't going to be the mature one and move on, the fans should.
Garnett got what he wanted when he won a title.
It may have taken the Wolves longer -- and been painful to see KG win a ring -- but they got what they wanted too. They have a team full of young talent on the rise. They have a superstar in Love who puts up numbers Garnett could never dream of, and he does it in the fourth quarter where KG would shrink up worse than George Costanza.
The Wolves are relevant again and don't need to look back at the past.
And one thing is certain -- the Wolves and their fans are past the point where they should give a crap what the hell Kevin Garnett thinks about anything.