Blakely: Chance Garnett missed farewell in Minnesota

Blakely: Chance Garnett missed farewell in Minnesota
April 2, 2013, 12:00 am
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MINNEAPOLIS — The return of Kevin Garnett was certainly something many Minnesota Timberwolves fans were looking forward to seeing Monday night.

He was for so many years not just the face of the franchise, but the heart, mind, body and soul of who they were and what they aspired to be as team.

So as Garnett missed his fifth straight game with inflammation in his left foot, there was a sense that the many fans that have followed his career from the time the Timberwolves drafted him with the fifth overall pick in the 1995 draft straight out of high school, to him establishing himself as one of the game's premier players, to his status now as one of the game's elder and well-decorated statesmen, those same fans may never get a chance to see him play again up close and personal here in Minneapolis.

Garnett signed a three-year deal with the Celtics during the offseason, but it might as well have been a series of one-year deals because both Garnett and the C's know that the 36-year-old may call it quits at any time.

When Garnett heads back to Malibu, Calif. this summer to rest, unwind and give some thought to whether he wants to come back to Boston, rest assured the good folks of Minnesota will be paying close attention.

His departure was nothing like that way over-the-top production LeBron James put on when he left Cleveland to play for Miami. And Garnett, despite the Timberwolves going nowhere in a hurry, didn't demand to be traded the way Carmelo Anthony did from Denver to New York, either.

If anything, Garnett was guilty of being too loyal for too long to a franchise that could never quite surround him with the right pieces to become a steady title contender aside from their 2004 trip to the Western Conference finals.

And so Garnett was finally set free in 2007 when he was shipped out to Boston where as they say, the rest his history.

Garnett showcased the talents of a five-tool star from the very beginning in his ability to 1) score, 2) rebound, 3) defend, 4) pass and 5) make his teammates better because of his presence and not in spite of it.

It cumulated with Garnett bringing home his first NBA title in 2008, better known around Boston as Banner 17.

Since then, Garnett has battled injuries and Father Time, although if you're scoring that fight you have give KG the edge on points right now.

But with each passing day, Garnett and the C's know his days in the NBA are numbered.

Garnett has embraced this reality, which is why he doesn't fuss with Doc Rivers nearly as much about being given days off as he used to.

So as Rivers was mere moments away from his pre-game speech to his players before Monday's game against Minnesota, he couldn't help but reflect on the possibility that this city that so loved and adored Garnett, may never get a chance to see him play in the Target Center again.

"Every year we don't know if it's his last time," Rivers said. "And obviously, I hope not and we all hope not but you never know with Kevin. Every summer from this point on, he has to decide if he's coming back or not. And I would hope that this isn't it because you would want him to play in this last game here."