Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, Minnesota’s own, is the most no-secret-here popular owner in town. He owns the Star Tribune newspaper also. Since he has owned the Timberwolves, however, it’s been hit and miss. What have you done lately?
Thirteen years in a row the team has missed the playoffs while his investment in the team has grown by leaps and bounds. Taylor has been chairman of the NBA Board of Governors. He has even been fined by David Stearn for his role in the fraud case of Joe Smith many years ago.
He hired Kevin McHale and Flip Saunders in 1995, many years ago, and the Timberwolves were actually relevant for a while. They even made the playoffs seven or eight years in a row. They drafted this high school kid from Chicago, Kevin Garnett, who turned out to be one of the NBA’s greatest stars. In fact, he is the only Timberwolves player who was selected the NBA’s Most Valuable Player.
The guy played for 20 years. The Timberwolves even traded him to Boston, and he led the Celtics to an NBA championship and to the NBA finals twice. Five years ago Taylor hired Saunders again, this time as part owner and head coach. Saunders had a master plan to help Taylor save his struggling franchise. Saunders made a deal that included bringing Garnett, the franchise’s greatest player, back to Minnesota.
Garnett was with the Brooklyn Nets at the time. He agreed to return to Minnesota to play even though it was clearly at the end of incredible career and with the intent to eventually transition into the front office as part owner.
As we all know, Saunders died three years ago of Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer. Saunders’ sudden passing really hurt the franchise; Minnesota had lost its leader. Taylor hired Sam Mitchell as interim head coach, but after one year fired him. Moving away from Garnett and all that Saunders had put in place, Taylor hired Tom Thibodeau as president and head coach.
Taylor has never spoken about Garnett or why he was no longer around. Garnett never officially retired either as a Timberwolves player and never received the respect he deserved for what he did here as a player both times. Garnett said recently he wants to own the Timberwolves and did not want to be a partner with Taylor. That would indicate some issues or agreements that were not fulfilled.
I think Taylor owes us an explanation. He should consider opening up about how Saunders’ death changed the direction of the franchise. What was Garnett promised when he returned with Saunders? Garnett’s jersey has not been retired. He has never been recognized by this organization or Taylor for all he has done for all those years.
Why is that? I know it’s business, but both sides are not talking.
The Timberwolves are the only franchise with no players who have ever been recognized for contributing to the growth of the franchise — no ring of honor, no retired jerseys. Taylor needs to invite Garnett back and work through the issues and set the record straight on what happened after Saunders died. What ended Garnett’s return as a Timberwolves player so abruptly, and what had he agreed to with the team?
I know Garnett has made $300 million or more over his remarkable career, but we need to hear from Taylor what went down and why Garnett feels jilted. Taylor, you at least owe us all that.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.