July 31, 2007

KG Thoughts

So yes, it's official: Kevin Garnett is a Celtic. He's a great player, a future Hall of Famer, and the only Wolves player whose jersey I've ever bought. I'm going to miss him, of course. But I do know that the Wolves weren't going anywhere in their current state, and that a nuking of the roster was necessary.

There is something that bothers me though, in the reaction to the trade from local and national media, which represents the absolute worst impulses of anti-small market prejudice and "East Coast bias." It's the idea that KG was finally "rescued" from Minnesota, where he has "wasted his career," and now he'll be in the "spotlight." Because after all, he "owed it to himself" to get out of such a "backwater." Now, he's finally on the East Coast, where "basketball matters," and where he can finally be "relevant."

Please. We've been hearing this for years from big city sportswriters absolutely bewildered that KG wouldn't want to beg out of the Twin Cities at the earliest opportunity to go to a "real city" (i.e., their city.) Numerous Chicago columnists, especially the Tribune's Sam Smith, have been the worst offenders, believing that they deserve Garnett in their city because, after all, "he's from Chicago" (no, he's from South Carolina, and spent one year of high school in Chicago, but what's the difference?) Laughing at Sam Smith has been one of the better aspects of this generally sad day (he whines here.)

Listen: KG stayed in Minnesota years longer than most superstars would have, even signing two separate long-term extensions. Any other superstar of his stature would've bailed out years ago, likely demanding a trade in the most public manner possible, refusing to report to training camp, or simply leaving as a free agent. Garnett never did that. Why? Perhaps, loyalty. Perhaps - and I know this was a shocker- he was actually happy in Minnesota. Maybe he likes his house. Maybe his wife likes living there. Maybe he enjoyed being the greatest player in the history of a franchise. Maybe, just because a bunch of middle-aged newspaper columnists in New York, Boston, Chicago and elsewhere see Minnesota as an uncultured backwater doesn't mean he believes it is too. And maybe it wasn't such a tragedy against the sanctity of the game of basketball that Kevin Garnett played the first 12 years of his career there.

So Garnett will go to Boston, and I wish him well. But I don't see how his career should somehow be cheapened because he spent the bulk of it on a non-"marquee" team. Does Tim Duncan's career have less legitimately because he played all of it in San Antonio, as opposed to Boston or New York or LA?

UPDATE: And Boston got Eric Gagne too! He's the third most valuable acquisition of the day, after Kevin Garnett and the Wall Street Journal.

Posted by Stephen Silver at July 31, 2007 05:01 PM
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