As the NBA off-season continues on, let’s take a look back at the Timberwolves’ original star duo, Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury, and the untimely divorce that put the Wolves on a treadmill of mediocrity.
Once upon a time, Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury were teammates on the Minnesota Timberwolves. Marbury was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1996 draft and was traded to Minnesota in exchange for Ray Allen, who was drafted that same night.
Wolves fans had two-and-a-half seasons to see the Garnett-Marbury pairing. As a Timberwolf, Marbury had a per-game average of 16.9 points and 8.3 assists. The team did not have much success with that duo, going a combined 85-79 over Marbury’s first two seasons prior to his trade midway through the lockout-shortened 1998-99 campaign, but they probably could’ve kept going and built something special. Both Marbury and KG were young players trying to figure out their way in the NBA. They were only scratching the surface of how good they could have been.
Ultimately, Marbury demanded a trade because he wanted to play in a bigger market to gain endorsements and become to the only star on a team, not playing alongside another star. Garnett was the bigger star in Minnesota, and Marbury wanted the bigger market-only star combo platter.
It is hard to see how talented these players were in their prime and to remember a time where they were together. Today, we would be surprised when a player demanded a trade when he was playing with another star (well, there is Kyrie Irving…) but back then, having only one star on a team was very normal. Marbury wanted to go and make his own path, to challenge himself to lead a team on his own and maximize his potential.
We shouldn’t be mad at Marbury, the same way we shouldn’t be mad at Kyrie Irving for wanting to leave Cleveland. Just like Irving and LeBron James won a ring together, Garnett and Marbury potentially could’ve won a ring. They could’ve kept building and growing together, and after adding more good players around them, they might have made a run.
Marbury ended up having a decent career after the Wolves but he did not get to play with another star. Garnett never had another talent like Marbury on the Wolves and kept coming up short in the playoffs but was still able to win a MVP award alongside Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell as the Wolves made the Western Conference in 2004. Of course, Garnett won his championship in Boston in 2008 as part of the original “Big Three” with Ray Allen and Paul Pierce.
It’s sad to see a talented duo such as Garnett and Marbury not keep growing and not being willing to sacrifice for a bigger cause. But alas, it was a pivotal point in Timberwolves franchise history.