№35: Kevin Garnett Player Spotlight (Part I | The Early Years) | This Week’s Comic Book Haul | Latest Book Finds | Mystery Minis: Fallout (S2) | PS4 GTA IV (Special Edition) | Jungle Cruise (2021)
September 12, 2021
Welcome to the tedi.substack.com weekly newsletter! At the end of each week1, this newsletter will touch on any number of entertaining, informative, or (possibly) useful topics.
This week’s Player’ Spotlight is the first of a two-part deep dive into the career of 2020 Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett. Other sections of №35 include my latest Comic Book Haul installment, this week’s Book Finds, Funko! Mystery Minis Fallout [Series 2], and my two cents on Disney’s Jungle Cruise (2021).
More after the jump.
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The concept behind my Player Spotlight segment was inspired by the writings of the late Zander Hollander (Sportswriter, archivist, and author of the ever informative The Complete Handbook of Pro Basketball) wherein he would write short and insightful entries on—then 20 something—NBA teams and their players for that particular season. With over 30 years of basketball knowledge under my belt, I decided to come up with my own short, free flowing, and non-linear/viewpoint narrative on a featured player.
Born Kevin Maurice Garnett (May 19, 1976) in Greenville, South Carolina. Known as “Da Kid” or “The Kid” (early part of his career), “The Franchise” (during his tenure with the Minnesota Timberwolves), “The Big Ticket” (for his athleticism and thunderous slam dunks), and “KG” (initials), during his 21-year NBA career. Kevin Garnett picked up the game of basketball while in grade school. As a 6’6” freshman, Garnett would go on to play for Mauldin High School in Mauldin, South Carolina. By his junior season with the Mavericks, Kevin Garnett averaged 26.7 points, 17.2 rebounds, and 7.2 blocks per game and was named to the 1993-1994 Parade All-American First Team. He also became the first underclassman to be recognized the “top boys’ high school senior basketball player in the state of South Carolina” (Mr. Basketball).
Before his senior year, Garnett was among those who were implicated in a race oriented fight but would eventually be cleared of any wrongdoing. It was an experience that would factor heavily into his decision to transfer to Farragut Academy in Chicago, Illinois. At Farragut, Kevin Garnett averaged 25.2 points, 17.9 rebounds, 6.7 assists, and 6.5 blocks per game and led the Admirals to a 28-2 win-loss record. For his efforts, Garnett was named Illinois’ Mr. Basketball and USA Today National High School Player of the Year. During the 1995 McDonald's All-American Boys Game, Kevin Garnett would put together an all-around performance (18 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 blocks) en route to the game’s MVP award.
In his four-year high school career, the 6’11” Garnett would rack up an outstanding 2,553 points, 1,809 rebounds and 737 blocked shots. Shortly after, he would signify his intention to forgo college and jump directly to the NBA.
The 1995 NBA Draft
When Kevin Garnett was selected 5th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 1995 NBA Draft, he became the first high-schooler to be drafted into the NBA since Darryl Dawkins (5th overall) and Bill Willoughby (19th overall) in 1975. During his 2020 Hall of Fame enshrinement speech on May 15, 20212, Garnett singled out Bill Willoughby, Darryl Dawkins (†), Moses Malone (†), and Spencer Haywood as those who paved the way for him to make a similar jump from high school to the NBA and—ultimately—the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
When the Minnesota Timberwolves opened their 1995-1996 campaign against the Sacramento Kings on November 3, 1995, Kevin Garnett (19 years and 168 days) became the youngest player to ever play in an NBA game.3 Garnett was primarily utilized off the bench during his first 40 games before the Timberwolves new head coach Flip Saunders (†) inserted him permanently into Minnesota’s starting lineup. At the end of his rookie season, Kevin Garnett (averaging 10.4 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.6 blocks over 80 games) joined Brent Barry (Los Angeles Clippers), Tyus Edney (Sacramento Kings), Bryant Reeves (Vancouver Grizzlies), and Rasheed Wallace (Washington Bullets) in the 1995-1996 All-Rookie Second Team.
Prior to his sophomore season, the Minnesota Timberwolves executed a draft day deal that brought Georgia Tech point guard Stephon Marbury into the fold. Paired with the explosive Marbury, Kevin Garnett would go on to establish career highs in almost all statistical categories: minutes (38.9), field goal percentage (49.9%), free-throw percentage (75.4%), rebounds (8.0), assists (3.1), steals (1.4), and blocks (2.1). The 1996-1997 season would see the Minnesota Timberwolves have two representatives participating in the 1997 NBA All-Star Game—the first two selections in the history of the franchise (forward Tom Gugliotta [voted in by the coaches] and Kevin Garnett [injury replacement]). Finishing the regular season with a 40-42 record, the Timberwolves reached the postseason for the first time in their 8-year existence. However, their promising season would come to an abrupt end when they were swept by the Houston Rockets (3-0) in their first round matchup.
At the end of the season, Garnett was eligible for a contract extension and the Timberwolves put a staggering six-year $102 million dollar deal on the table. The amount clearly dwarfed his current three-year $5.5 million rookie contract and was within striking distance of the seven-year $120 million dollar contract that Shaquille O’Neal signed with the Los Angeles Lakers the summer before. Kevin Garnett and his representatives immediately rejected the $102 million offer which sent shockwaves across the Association and—according to a number of scribes at that time—could have played a part in the lockout-shortened 1998-1999 season. With an hour remaining before the October 1, 1997 contract extension deadline, Garnett signed the largest contract in NBA history: A six-year deal worth $126 million dollars.
Despite the pressure coming from his new deal, KG would build on the success of his previous two seasons and post career highs in games (82), minutes (39.3), points (18.5), rebounds (9.6), assists (4.2), and steals (1.7). Garnett would again be named to the NBA All-Star Game, this time as a Western Conference starter. Minnesota would finish the season 45-37, the franchise’s first winning season. Yet much like the season before, playoff success eluded them when they fell to the Seattle SuperSonics (3-2) in the opening round.
Coming up Short
Over the next five seasons, Kevin Garnett’s career seemed to follow a similar script: productive teammates signing with other teams (Gugliotta | January 1999) or have asked to be traded (Marbury | March 1999) and the Timberwolves’ streak of early playoffs exits despite KG’s personal success (1998-1999 All-NBA Third Team, 1999-2000 All-NBA First Team and finished 2nd in MVP voting, 2000-2001 All-NBA Second Team, 2001-2002 All-NBA Second Team, 2002-2003 All-Star Game MVP, All-NBA First Team, and was 2nd in MVP voting).
The New Big Three and MVP Season
But in June 27, 2003, that all changed for the Minnesota Timberwolves when they acquired the point guard Sam Cassell and center Ervin Johnson from the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for power forward/center Joe Smith and shooting guard Anthony Peeler. Less than a month later, Minnesota continued to fortify their backcourt when they pulled the trigger on a rather complicated four-team trade4 to acquire the New York Knicks’ volatile shooting guard Latrell Sprewell.
With the additions of Cassell and Sprewell to the club, the Timberwolves were able to surround Garnett with a potent supporting cast—a big three (if you will)—for the first time since the departure of Gugliotta and Marbury in 1999. In 2003-2004, Kevin Garnett would go on to have the best season of his career (averaging 24.2 points [career high], 13.9 rebounds [career high], 5.0 assists, 1.5 steals, and 2.2 blocks [career high] over 82 [tied career high] games.) and was named as the league’s MVP in addition to All-NBA First Team honors. By averaging at least 20 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists per game for the fifth consecutive season, Garnett joined the Boston Celtics’ Larry Joe Bird as the only players to have achieve the feat. His 1,987 total points and 1,139 total rebounds for the season also made Kevin Garnett the first player in 29 years to lead the league in both categories5.
The Minnesota Timberwolves would finish on top of the Midwest Division with a franchise record 58 wins and 24 losses6. They also exorcised their playoff demons when they steamrolled over the Denver Nuggets in the first round (4-1). In the second round of the 2004 NBA Playoffs, the series between the Timberwolves (#1 seed) and the Sacramento Kings (#4 seed) would go down to the final possession in Game 7 with Minnesota emerging as the victor (4-3). However, successive injuries to point guards Sam Cassell, Troy Hudson, and Darrick Martin during the Western Conference Finals was too much of an obstacle for the Timberwolves to overcome. After six games, their opponents, the Los Angeles Lakers, would advance to the 2004 NBA Finals.
Things come crashing down
Coming off the heels of the best season in franchise history, the Minnesota Timberwolves were unable to capitalize and finished with a disappointing 44-38 record. Garnett would be named to the 2004-2005 All-NBA Second Team but his Timberwolves would miss the playoffs for the first time since his rookie season.
Prior to the start of the 2005-2006 season, things would only spiral down further when Latrell Sprewell—who turned down a three-year $21 million dollar contract extension in the most crass way possible (you can read about it here)—decided not the return to the Timberwolves (and eventually retire). On August 12, 2005, Minnesota also cut ties with Sam Cassell when the club sent him and a future 2012 first-round selection7 to the Los Angeles Clippers for point guards Mario Jeric and Lionel Chalmers. After 51 games (25-26), head coach Flip Saunders (†) was replaced by Minnesota Timberwolves General Manager Kevin McHale for the remainder of the season8. But despite the coaching change, the Timberwolves failed to reach the playoffs for the second consecutive season (44-38). Indirectly, Garnett’s streak of seven consecutive All-NBA selections also ended in 2005-2006.
In 2006-2007, the Timberwolves (32-50) failed to qualify for the playoffs for the third consecutive season—the club’s second-worst finish since Kevin Garnett’s rookie year (26-56). Garnett, one of the few bright spots in an otherwise lost season, was named to the 2006-2007 All-NBA Third Team.
That offseason, Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Allen Taylor finally relented and began listening to offers for his prized All-Star forward…
Click here to jump to Part II.
Period: August 30th - September 12th, 2021
1) Black Hammer Reborn #3 (Fiona Stephenson Variant Cover | Cover B) - Fiona Stephenson’s original painting of Black Hammer II hangs in the studio of Black Hammer co-creator and writer Jeff Lemire.
2) Department of Truth #11 (Martin Simmonds Regular | Cover A, Caspar Wijngaard Variant | Cover B, and Aaron Campbell Variant | Cover C) - Scored on all three available covers. A healthy compromise as store exclusives around the world are tough to ship to the Philippines.
3) Something is Killing the Children #19 (Werther Dell'Edera Regular | Cover A) - Doesn’t Werther’s cover remind you of the Issue #12 Bloody Blank Sketch Variant cover (Cover C)?
4) The Walking Dead Deluxe #22 (Tony Moore & Dave McCaig Variant | Cover B)
Period: September 4, 2021
Without a Doubt by Marcia Clark and Teresa Carpenter (1997 | Hardbound)
Funny story about this book. I originally saw a copy in Booksale Makati Cinema Square many years ago. I held it in my hand, then put it back. Looked around the store for a bit and ultimately decided not to get it. When I finally did decided to get it, I went back to the store and it was gone (It is a theme that I am very familiar with as it happens quite often).
Anyway, I never stopped searching for another copy until earlier this year when I decided to purchased the audio book. I finally got to “read” it and got it out of my system.
Then I stumbled upon this!
Again, I didn’t buy it immediately! I played around with the idea that I had “already ‘read’ it” and “what would be the point with getting the physical copy?”
Like clockwork, I changed my mind and when I went back—it was gone! (Serves me right).
Despite my repeated indecisiveness, this story does have a happy ending. After a few weeks, I paid a visit to the same store again and what was sitting on the shelf?
Now…do I also get Christopher Darden’s book?
It was on the shelf as well…
Pete Maravich: The Authorized Biography of Pistol Pete by Wayne Federman, Marshall Terrill, and Jackie Maravich (2008 | Paperback)
Not too long ago, I found a first edition of Mark Kringle’s Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich (2007) in my local bookstore (which I assumed would be THE resource on Maravich) and now I stumbled on Federman, Terrill, and Maravich’s book—Pete Maravich: The Authorized Biography of Pistol Pete.
Since Jackie Maravich would be the best person to speak about her late husband, I guess this book is now the authority on the subject.
Funko! Mystery Minis: Fallout [Series 2] (September 3, 2021)
Being a die-hard fan of the Fallout 4 PS4 game, I’ve always wanted to collect Vault Boy figures (depicting the different attributes) in this scale. With this particular online deal, I’ve crossed another two off my list.
5 down and 7 to go!
Grand Theft Auto IV (Special Edition) [PS3]
Originally released in April 2008, the special edition package comes with a PS3 Grand Theft Auto IV game, the Grand Theft Auto IV art book, GTA IV audio soundtrack, Rockstar Games logo keychain, Rockstar Games branded black duffle bag, and a black GTA safety deposit box.
After almost 13 years of looking, I finally found it—thanks to another online deal.
Movie of the Week: Jungle Cruise (2021) (September 6, 2021)
My 10-year-old son put it best, “They made a movie about one of their rides in Disneyland?”
You know what? He is absolutely right! The question now is, can they consistently integrate the jungle cruise theme for the duration of the movie? Well, what I am willing to say is, I think Director Jaume Collet-Serra and the writers played their hand well in this one.
As it is a family movie, I recommend it! Enjoy it with your loved ones today. ■
Tedi Gustilo Villasor, Ph.D. is a former columnist for Baby Magazine (Philippines) as well as a past contributor to NBA.com/Philippines. His other works include the indie comic books Lindol and OBIsessions.
Click here for more information on his work as a psychologist.
Click here to order Lindol (with artist and co-creator Randy Valiente) from our online partner Secret HQ.
Click here to order OBIsessions (with artist and co-creator Jann Galino) from our online partner Secret HQ.
If you happen to drop by Comic Odyssey’s Robinson’s Galleria, the branch is stocked with copies of Lindol #1.
For local collectors who are looking for the limited edition Lindol #1 Blank Cover variant, you can find them in my Carousell.ph page.
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Unless something exciting comes up that necessitates an additional entry.
The Class of 2020 was set to be enshrined in Springfield, Massachusetts on August 29, 2020 (Saturday). But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony was moved to May 15, 2021.
That record is now held by former Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum (17 years and 249 days). One of only three 17 year-olds to be drafted into the National Basketball Association (NBA)
On July 23, 2003, the Minnesota Timberwolves would ship point guard Terrell Brandon to the Atlanta Hawks and center Marc Jackson to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Atlanta Hawks would then send small forward Glenn Robinson to the Philadelphia 76ers in return for Terrell Brandon. The 76ers trade small forward Keith Van Horn to the New York Knicks and receive the aforementioned Marc Jackson and Glenn Robinson. While the New York Knicks trade shooting guard Latrell Sprewell to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Keith Van Horn.
Overall, Kevin Garnett became the 5th player in NBA history to lead all players in total points and rebounds.
In the 2004-2005 season, the NBA expanded from 29 to 30 teams (Charlotte Bobcats) and proceeded to realign each conference with three divisions. The Midwest Division was dissolved in favor of the Northwest Division—a move the made the Minnesota Timberwolves the last Midwest Division champion ever in the NBA.
For those of you keeping score at home, that first round draft pick turned into the 10th overall pick in the 2012 draft. The New Orleans Hornets would end up selecting Duke combo guard Austin Rivers.
McHale would move back to the Timberwolves front office at the conclusion of the season. In his place, Minnesota hired Dwane Casey as it’s new head coach.
Again, only if something of interest comes up which would require an additional post.