Kevin Garnett made an appearance at the NBA labor talks earlier this week and apparently made a strong impression on younger players with his pro-union rhetoric. With the likelihood the 2011-12 season might be cancelled (and with it, Garnett’s $21 salary going down the toilet), the window would seem to be closing on the Celtics forward’s last chance at going deep into the playoffs, but the gratitude of his peers pales in comparison to that of Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski. Though careful to claim he doesn’t consider KG to be “a hero, a martyr, anything of the sort,” Wojnarowski cannot help but relish comparing Garnett’s value to the league in general (and two franchises in particular) with the track record of Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor (above).
When the Wolves had little else, they had Garnett. He covered for a bad owner, and a mediocre front office. When Glen Taylor was pinched for a secret contract with Joe Smith(notes), the Wolves paid a steep price in Garnett’s prime. He never demanded a trade, never asked out. In good times and bad, Garnett was a franchise player. He understood the burden of it: Even when it wasn’t easy, K.G. knew that he was paid to carry it all.
He was the reason those Wolves sold out games, the reason they made the playoffs, the reason they had relevancy in the NBA. Once he left, the Wolves fell apart. Taylor hired an unqualified general manager, David Kahn, to run the franchise, and the Wolves kept slipping further and further. Small markets have a tiny margin for error, and Taylor obliterated it.
Only in this twisted NBA ownership culture, could Taylor – who lorded over what Stern declared was “one of the most far-reaching frauds we’ve seen” in the Smith scandal – become the chairman of the NBA’s board of governors.