MINNEAPOLIS -- Kevin Garnett was elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame over the weekend. His Celtics’ No. 5 jersey is set to be lifted into the rafters in Boston next season. One of the game’s all-time great power forwards is being rightfully honored for his many career achievements.
But when will he allow Minnesota to join in on the action? The Timberwolves would love to retire Garnett’s No. 21 jersey. But that may never come to fruition due to Garnett’s feelings about team owner Glen Taylor.
“Glen knows where I’m at. I’m not entertaining it,” Garnett told The Athletic’s Shams Charania in a wide-ranging question-and-answer session published Tuesday. “First of all, it’s not genuine. Two, he’s getting pressure from a lot of fans and, I guess, the community there.”
Garnett, 43, holds a stiff grudge against Taylor for the way his time ended in Minnesota. When Garnett agreed to waive his no-trade clause to be dealt back to the Timberwolves in 2015, he said he, Flip Saunders and Taylor “had an understanding.” When Garnett’s career was over, he wanted to join the team’s ownership group and have a say in the front office’s decision-making process. But when Saunders died, Garnett said Taylor disregarded that agreement. Tom Thibodeau was hired as head coach and president of basketball operations the following offseason.
“For that, I won’t forgive Glen,” Garnett told Charania. “I thought he was a straight-up person, straight-up business man, and when Flip died, everything went with him.”
Still, Garnett said he cherishes his years spent in Minnesota. He starred for the Timberwolves for the first 12 years of his NBA career, from 1995 to 2007. He returned to play five games in 2014-15 and 38 games in 2015-16 before retiring.
He said he will always love “my Timberwolves,” and the many people he dealt with in and around the organization. The city of Minneapolis and state of Minnesota have a special place in his heart.
“But I don’t do business with snakes. … I try not to do business with openly snakes or people who are snake-like,” Garnett said. “At this point, I don’t want any dealings with Glen Taylor or Taylor Corp. or anything that has to do with him.”
These statements come at a time when the Timberwolves continue to attempt to embrace Garnett as the centerpiece of the franchise’s history. Garnett’s “homecoming” game in 2015 was aired on Fox Sports North last week. When Garnett was elected to the Hall of Fame, the team put out a bevy of Garnett-centric posts, and Taylor issued a statement congratulating the franchise’s former star player.
Garnett said his years in Minnesota were like a research and development period for himself. He credited Saunders and Kevin McHale for playing a large role in his progression as a player. Those are the days, he said, that made him the man he became.
But if he could go back and change anything as a player, he said it would be to leave Minnesota earlier in his career.
“Knowing that the (Timberwolves) management wasn’t as committed as I was,” he said. “Or wasn’t committed at all.”
Had Garnett pushed his way out of Minnesota and maybe gotten to Boston earlier in his career when he was at the peak of his powers, he thinks he would have another NBA championship or two.
Still, he’s grateful for the years he did get with the Celtics, the team he played for during the six seasons from 2007-2013.
“I’m glad I was able to experience the better way of the NBA and seeing how winning franchises really do things,” he said. “That left a huge, huge impression on me that I’ll take to my grave.”