In the Spotlight

News & Features
The Minnesota Timberwolves
The Minnesota Timberwolves
Your Voice
DocumentJoin the conversation with other MPR listeners in the News Forum.

DocumentE-mail this pageDocumentPrint this page
Garnett named MVP of NBA
Larger view
"This is best situation I could ever think of, or dream of," Garnett said. "I had to believe I could get there, because of him (Kevin McHale) and his belief in me." (MPR Photo/Brandt Williams)
Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett is the best player in the NBA and now there's a trophy with his name on it to prove it. Garnett was named the Most Valuable Player in the NBA on Monday. Garnett set 11 single-season team records this year and has also led the Timberwolves into its first-ever second round playoff series. Fans and sportswriters have long suspected Garnett would win the coveted trophy this year.

Minneapolis, Minn. — For much of this season, Timberwolves fans at the Target Center have chanted "MVP" whenever Kevin Garnett stepped up to the free throw line. And while the crowds chanted, sports columnists -- and not just in Minnesota -- were writing the same thing. Timberwolves team owner Glen Taylor got to break the news no one was surprised to hear. "I have the great honor, and pleasure to present you this year's MVP award for the NBA," Taylor said. Garnett, dressed in a tailored suit and Adidas sneakers, graciously accepted the award from the team owner and hunched his seven-foot frame over the podium. He first thanked Taylor, the league, and some of the other NBA greats, like Moses Malone, who made the leap from high school to the pros before him. Then Garnett turned to his teammates who were seated in the room. "Even though it's an individual award, man it wouldn't be nothing without those knuckleheads, believe me. It is a team game and I've always kept that perspective," he said.

Larger view
Image A salute to the MVP

This year was definitely Garnett's best in his nine-year career. He set single-season team records for most points, rebounds, 20 point games, and blocked shots. Garnett was the first player to be named Western Conference Player of the Month four times in a season. He also made his seventh all-star appearance this year.

He joined Larry Bird as the only players to average at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for five consecutive years. Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said Monday that Garnett set high goals for himself immediately after the team drafted him out of high school in 1995.

"When he came in the league nine years ago, the No. 1 thing he said to myself and (team vice president) Kevin McHale is he wanted to be the best player in the league," Saunders said.

McHale said he told the skinny kid fresh from Chicago's Farragut Academy to work hard and see what happens.

"That young man turned into a bigger man and a hell of a basketball player," McHale said. "He reminds me of how basketball should be played, with passion, hard work and discipline."

Garnett's achievements have also made his team better this year. The Timberwolves have won more games than ever this year, and the team has never made it this far in the playoffs before. Sports Illustrated senior writer Ian Thomsen says that's what really makes Garnett the MVP.

Larger view
Image 'Work hard and see what happens.'

"This is called the Most Valuable Player and they don't stipulate how you define a player's value. To me, he has to be individually exceptional, but it also has to mean something. He has to be playing for a cause larger than himself," said Thomsen, who is on the panel of sports writers and broadcasters who voted for Garnett to win the trophy.

He says the balloting would have been closer had last year's MVP, Tim Duncan, stayed healthy this year. Thomsen says Garnett is at the forefront of a new generation of 'big men,' players who hover around 7 feet. Garnett can run up and down the floor, he can handle the ball in the open court and shoot three-point baskets as well as perform traditional 'big man' duties such as dunking and blocking shots.

"Most of the big men who come to the NBA, they want to be like Kevin Garnett. They want to be able to do a bit of everything. The problem is very few of them are capable of doing that."

Timberwolves executives took time to praise Garnett for his work off the court. Garnett, one of the weathiest players in the NBA, has quietly gone about changing the lives of people in need, says team owner Glen Taylor. Taylor says the first conversations he had with Garnett when he just joined the team, were not about basketball.

"He talked about 'I want to do things, but I don't want to do it out in the open. I just want to do it because there's something inside of me that says this is how I want to help people in Minnesota,' and he talked about youth in particular," according to Taylor.

Garnett is also known as a loyal person. He surrounds himself with friends with whom he grew up. And when he signed his contract extension at the beginning of the season, he pledged his loyalty to the Timberwolves organization, saying he bleeds the team colors. Garnett says his next goal is to help win a championship trophy for the team.

"Not to disrespect the award or nothing, but, my goals are a lot bigger than just an individual award, but if I get -- when I get -- that big gold trophy, that's really going to solidify my journey," he said.

Garnett's and the Timberwolves' journey toward a championship trophy continues Tuesday night when they open the Western Conference semifinals against the Sacramento Kings at Target Center. NBA commissioner David Stern will be on hand to present Garnett with the MVP trophy before the game.

The Associated Press also contributed to this report

Respond to this story
News Headlines
Related Subjects