The night love returned to Target Center

We arrived too late to Minnesota to experience the Minnesota Twins championship teams, but other than those, we’re hard pressed to imagine a more magical moment in Minnesota sports than last evening’s Timberwolves game and the return of Kevin Garnett.

We don’t much care for rejection and while we understand sports is business, we take it personally when people spurn us. Remember when Frank Sonntag, the executive director of the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts, left us after 10 months, hinting that it wasn’t him, it was us? That one hurt.

When someone wants to be here, it affirms us.

Last night, Garnett owned Target Center, and brought show business back to the NBA franchise.

(Less quality on this one, but a better feel for the crowd reaction)

After lifting up the full house, the team let it down, scoring only one point in the first 8 minutes.

Same old Timberwolves? No concept of the moment.

“I think how we started the game shows how shocked we were,” Ricky Rubio said. “We were like, `Damn, this is big.”

They ended the first quarter down 20-11. In previous days, that’s all it would’ve taken to beat the Timberwolves.

But this night was different. The team calmed down, played defense, and after being tied at halftime, walked away with a 97-to-77 win over one of the Eastern Conference’s better teams.

One of the loudest cheers of the night was this guy — shirtless dancing guy, a relic from Garnett’s earlier stay in Minnesota when he was known as “jiggly boy.”

Garnett finished with 5 points and 8 rebounds in 18 minutes of action. He also might’ve saved NBA basketball in a city desperate to love somebody who loves it back.

“I did not know the city missed me like this,” Garnett said. “I don’t think that you can ever wish or ever think the city loves you like this. But to see it is reality and I’m very appreciative.”

The crowd booed a few times last night. It was usually directed at Washington’s Kris Humphries. His crime?

He left us.

Related video: Feeling and returning the love: KG's return (Star Tribune).

  • John

    I don’t follow sports, as a rule, but a lot of my friends do, so I guess I follow people who follow sports.

    I morbidly enjoy watching the spectators who love MN sports teams (this time, this includes you, Bob). Every time the state gets a new “hot” player, in every sport, the acquisition of that player fuels dreams of championship greatness. In every case (Lynx excepted), there have been a few games (maybe a season) of greatness, followed by the sinking back to MN sports mediocrity.

    For the hearts of those fans, I hope this is an exception to the rule, but based on historical observations, I rather doubt that it will be.

    • There was nothing about last night that was about dreaming of championship greatness. It has little to do with the future at all.

      In many ways it was the celebration of the youth we had, the times we shared.

      It wasn’t about the future; it was about the past. It was about reconciling our divides. It was all very metaphorical.

      • Exactly. Anyone thinking that Garnett’s return will bring them a championship is delusional.

        /And yes, I watched a bit of the game last night as there was no Wild game to watch.

        • I haven’t met a single Timberwolves fan who thinks Garnett is going to bring a championship.

          What they’re excited about is that he brings a professional culture to a franchise that sorely lacks it.

          Let’s just say that last night’s game was better than losing to the diseased Edmonton Oilers. :*)

          • John

            My facebook feed was rife with people thinking this meant they could go all the way. .. comments like “they have so much young talent that he can develop into a championship team.”

            It was reminiscent of when Favre joined the Vikings for his sunset tour.

          • Joe

            When people say that they mean in 3-4 years. Everyone knows our team is young and no good. We are already essentially eliminated from the playoffs this year, so no one who actually follows the Wolves would think we could be a championship team this year.

            Whether he will mold the young players into championship contenders in a few years is also maybe too optimistic, but hey, if you don’t think your team can contend in the next 5 years, why are you watching?

          • There’s no question that one of the problems with the Timberwolves (and Twins) is a culture of losing. The first step toward building a future champion is to get rid of that.

            I mean how many times have we heard a TWolves coach start his postgame news conference with “we came out flat and without energy tonight.”

            That’s not likely with Garnett around.

          • John

            I’m not saying he won’t, and I’m not saying he will. Like I said, I don’t follow sports.

            What I’m saying is that so far, this is following the pattern that I’ve seen several times.
            That pattern:
            1) potential savior comes to MN
            2) fans go crazy with the idea that this is it, we’re gonna go all the way now
            3) the team rises to (near) the top
            4) the team sinks back to medocrity/sub-mediocrity.

            We’re still at steps 1 & 2 with KG. I hope he can break the cycle, but only time will tell.

          • Ah, I see. I don’t put much of a barometer on anything on Facebook.

          • Jay T. Berken

            When Favre makes his atonement with the Packers fans and comes back home to Lambeau, fans will be going ballistic. I hope to be at that game. Favre (and Wolfe) built up that franchise again. I grew up in GB during the 80s when the Pack was not good and finding out in hindsight that the NFL was looking at moving the Packers. Favre brought pride back to Green Bay and Wisconsin.

          • And, save for some illegal plays from the Saints, Favre had the Vikings in the SB.

          • Agreed. That Oiler game was just a bump in the road. The Wild will bounce back. No worries.

            And I WAS pleased to see that the T-Wolves won last night,

    • John O.

      I’m not a huge basketball fan, but I was getting the sense that some in the media are portraying this as KG “coming home” and eventually transitioning into some type of leadership/ownership role.

      That makes his return significant if that is the direction he is considering. I can easily see Mr. Taylor making that deal and both parties walking away in a positive fashion. And let’s not kid ourselves here: if KG came a-calling on the Minnesota Legislature for funds to refurbish Target Center as a part-owner, the chances of success would go up significantly.

      • We were talking about this last night and trying to figure out how he can do it? Clearly he wants to own the team but with the new TV contract, the value of the Timberwolves has soared to something like $740 million on year.

        Garnett is a wealthy man but I’m not sure how you take on that sort of debt load without a zillion minority partners.

        • John O.

          If there is anyone who can find a legal, creative way to make that happen, it’s Glen Taylor. I knew Mr. Taylor way-back-when during his years as a state senator from the Mankato area. He doesn’t always say a lot, but he is one smart guy.

        • Jack Ungerleider

          Or one minority partner, named Glen Taylor. It becomes a way for the Taylor family to stay involved in the ownership of the team without actually having to run it.

          • He’s 74. He’ll need a great estate planner to make it happen.

  • Jeff

    I think KG is so popular because he embodies a lot of how we see ourselves as Minnesotans. (Not the very tall part). He’s hard working, not a whiner or a prima donna, and team player. He also made the most of his talents and doesn’t settle for mediocrity. And like true Minnesotans we might go live elsewhere for a while but we almost always end up returning home.

  • The boos for Hump are growing softer as he distances himself from his Kardashian infamy. Whereas the crowd had no reaction to former Wolves, Martell and Ramon …

    (Photo cred: https://twitter.com/steventurous/status/568814642425929728/photo/1)

    • Neither of those two walked out on us. Or if they did, it was because we pusehd them.

      BTW, where’s Joel Przybilla these days?

      • I mean, Hump “left us” by being drafted. Seems like a silly reason to hold a grudge. Martell was chronically injured during his tenure here, so I feared he might receive some boos. Cole Aldrich didn’t receive many boos when he checked in for the Knicks at the Target Center back in November.

        As for Joel:

        https://twitter.com/Charley_Walters/status/503665313150664704

        • Hump left us by entering the draft after one season at the U.

          • Is that why the Gophers haven’t sent a player to the NBA since? ;^)

  • Chris Dall

    I haven’t seen the Wolves play that much defense since…Garnett was last here. If that, and consistent effort, are the only things he brings to this team, it’s worth it.

    • I love Garnett setting picks. Of course they’re moving picks but they’re not going to call it.

  • Guest

    Speaking of Kris Humphries, I wonder if he enjoyed listening to that Kanye West song during KG’s montage?