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Despite their similarly intense styles, there were never reports of Kevin Garnett verbally assaulting teammates, coaches and even executives at practice, like Jimmy Butler did on Wednesday in Minnesota. But that's not because the Big Ticket didn't ever confront his teammates with that same ferocity, the same earnest desire to win above all else. No, it's because "what goes on in practice should always stay in practice," Garnett tells The Athletic's Jon Krawczynski.
The former NBA MVP with the Timberwolves has a unique understanding of what's going on in Minnesota these days. Like Butler, his desire to win often led to his emotions getting the best of him, which he is the first to admit. “You don’t think that I went crazy sometimes? Man, I was a damn Tasmanian devil,” Garnett says. “I would say shit at [Kevin] McHale. I would say shit at Flip [Saunders]. But it was all to motivate all of us."
However, on top of that spiritual connection with Butler, Garnett knows Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, the centerpiece of Jimmy's ire. He played with them in his final season, when they were even younger than they are now. “I’m ‘Sota for life," Garnett says. "I’ve always wanted better for not only the city and the franchise, but Wigs, KAT, those are my guys. I root for those guys."
He does acknowledge what everyone sees: "It’s a shit storm up there," but only because "can’t nobody keep shit in practice,” Garnett said. "Everything is so god damn public now.”
Notwithstanding his irascible old man routine, there is no better fountain of information about the players involved in the Minnesota implosion than KG, which is why his interview is a must-read for all NBA fans, not just the Wolves coterie. In it, he talks at length about how Jimmy might not have the "juice" to demand a trade, and why he never did. “I think Jimmy thinks his worth is a little more than what it is," he says. "He’s a very good player. I don’t see him on the [Kevin Durant] and LeBron [James] level. But if they are A-plus, he’s definitely A, A-minus."
Garnett also says Towns "has good leadership skills because he works hard," before wondering "whether he wants to vocalize those, which is his next challenge as a leader, to me." In a moment of remarkable empathy and connection, Garnett worries that KAT is “trying to be everybody’s friend.” You won't find a retired NBA player with as much insight on Jimmy, KAT and the rest of the situation in Minnesota, so check out the rest of what he has to say about what might've caused the shit storm, and how much damage the Timberwolves might expect as a result.