On October 26th, 1995 I was a fifteen-year-old kid with a metal smile, and was about to meet my new favorite athlete, Kevin Garnett. It was only days before “Da Kid” would make his NBA debut with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the future superstar briefly made his way through Fargo, North Dakota for the final pre-season game against Washington. It was an anxious time for everybody: Minnesota, the FargoDome crowd, my Dad, myself and especially Kevin Garnett.
In my hand was the latest issue of Sports Illustrated which had the nineteen-year-old rookie on the cover with the title “Ready Or Not.”
When the Minnesota Timberwolves drafted Kevin Garnett four months prior out of Farragut Academy High School, my basketball hopes of the future fell on the shoulders of #21, and I learned as much as possible about his game (pre-internet). In fact, I will never forget the excitement after the Timberwolves drafted K.G. #5 overall, and the epic game of basketball played in my driveway that night.
I can’t remember how long Dad and I waited for Kevin Garnett on October 26th, 1995, but “The Big Ticket” eventually made his way to the stands and greeted his old friend Corey Statham, who was playing in the IBA with the Fargo-Moorhead Beez. No one knew what to expect from Garnett in his NBA career, and I certainly didn’t know what to expect when I met him. After waiting patiently for a few minutes, I approached K.G. and asked him to sign my issue of Sports Illustrated. After looking at himself on the cover, he laughed briefly, and signed with a black marker. I noticed a rubber band on each of his wrists, and from that point forward I also wore rubber bands through my sophomore year of basketball. My Dad and I discussed this recently as he wears rubber bands on his wrists to this today, but for a different reason, memory, which is a funny thing to think about looking back.
My Dad and I became true fans of Kevin Garnett on that October day in Fargo, which was one of the last “normal days” in the young life of the future NBA superstar. On November 3rd, Kevin Garnett made his NBA debut and the league immediately recognized that “Da Kid” was the real deal.
Eighteen years later, Kevin Garnett is a two-time NBA champion, fifteen-time all star and the newest member of the Brooklyn Nets. During the late 90s, Garnett was the heart and soul of the Minnesota sports scene, and went on to lead the franchise to the playoffs from 1996-2004.
By 2006, Kevin Garnett’s time in Minnesota had come to an end when he was traded to the Boston Celtics. That same year my time in Minnesota also came to an end, and I moved to Los Angeles. Within two years I would be cheering for a former rival, the Los Angeles Lakers, but also rooting for my childhood idol, Kevin Garnett, in the NBA Finals.
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