MINNEAPOLIS Timberwolves fans and I've met both of them seem to be of two minds now that the Celtics have won the NBA title.
Wolves Fan 1 is outraged that Kevin McHale helped his old team by trading Kevin Garnett to Boston.
Wolves Fan 2 is overjoyed that Garnett won the championship he "deserved."
Both are guilty of faulty thinking, which is how you become a Wolves fan to begin with.
If you're a conspiracy theorist, you could become highly suspicious that a great Celtics player such as McHale would trade his best player to former Celtics teammate Danny Ainge for a group of lesser players. But only if you're a conspiracy theorist.
If you live in the real world, you know that McHale, whatever his faults, made the deal he thought was best at the time, knowing he could neither afford to pay Garnett what he wanted nor let him walk away in free agency.
And McHale got Al Jefferson, who is already a better scorer and finisher and fourth-quarter player than Garnett ever was, regardless of the championship Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and an underrated supporting cast helped Garnett win.
As for Garnett "deserving" a championship, this notion is the worst of all the sentimental tripe produced by silly fans. As an employee, you might deserve a pension, perhaps even a gold watch, but you do not deserve a championship. You either win one or you don't.
Garnett made hundreds of millions of dollars while working in Minnesota (including Glen Taylor's money and endorsements) and he is everything he was said to be a wonderful all-around player, an excellent defender, an inconsistent fourth-quarter presence, a leader in terms of effort but not necessarily in terms of locker-room relationships and words.
He didn't "deserve" a championship. But he did earn one, by helping Boston become a fine defensive team and bowing to Allen, Pierce and even Rajon Rondo when his team needed a clutch basket.
If there were a third Wolves fan, here's what that person should be thinking with Garnett holding the trophy and the Wolves holding the third pick in this week's draft:
It can be done.
That's what the Celtics proved, that a miserable franchise suffering from forfeitures of luck, skill and imagination, run by a former Celtics standout of ill repute, stuck with one star player and a bunch of developing youngsters, can make bold moves and win a championship.
Now, it's not going to happen to the Wolves so quickly, and it probably won't ever happen, but if the Celtics can go from 0-to-title in one season, our Wolves should be able to go from 0-to-respectable in the course of two or three years.
If the Lakers can get Pau Gasol and the Celtics can get Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, then it is possible to make an impact trade in the NBA, which not so long ago seemed like an impossibility.
If the Celtics can beat the Lakers and Kobe Bryant, then it is apparent that defense, coaches and benches matter, because the Celtics dominated in all three categories during the finals.
Stars are important, but they aren't everything. You can become a very good NBA team with a few very good players, a good coach and a bunch of contributing role players. The Pistons have done it. And you can win the NBA title with one end-game scorer, one three-point shooter and a wonderful complementary player like Garnett. The Celtics just did it.
With the draft scheduled for Thursday, the Wolves know they need to add one more very good player who is capable of taking advantage of the double-teams Jefferson commands. And next year the Wolves will need to add one more very good player who fits into a developing team.
Are Jefferson, McHale and Wolves owner Glen Taylor capable of turning around the franchise? It wouldn't seem so. But then, last year at this time, the Celtics were thought to be in similar dire straits.
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