Minnesota Timberwolves: Celebrating 25 years since drafting Kevin Garnett

PORTLAND, UNITED STATES: Minnesota Timberwolves' Kevin Garnett. JOHN GRESS/AFP/Getty Images
PORTLAND, UNITED STATES: Minnesota Timberwolves' Kevin Garnett. JOHN GRESS/AFP/Getty Images /

This weekend marked 25 years since the Minnesota Timberwolves selected Kevin Garnett.

There aren’t many dates that stick out prominently in the lackluster history of the Minnesota Timberwolves. But June 28, 1995 stands out among the rest.

Sure, the first game in franchise history took place back on Nov. 3, 1989, and the first home game was on Nov. 8 of that same year, at the now-demolished Metrodome.

But for all intents and purposes, the Minnesota Timberwolves started on June 28, 1995, when a skinny high-schooler was picked No. 5 by new Wolves bosses Kevin McHale and Flip Saunders.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Celebrating 25 years since drafting Kevin Garnett

At the time, the Timberwolves franchise had gone just 126-366 over its first six years of existence — just a .256 winning percentage. They hadn’t sniffed the playoffs, with the best season on record a 29-win campaign in Year Two of the franchise, back in 1990-91.

The Wolves were three years into the Christian Laettner era. Laettner was the No. 3 pick in the 1992 draft, after Shaquille O’Neal and Alonzo Mourning, but was more famous for his illustrious career at Duke University and presence on the bench of the 1992 Team U.S.A. Dream Team than for any game-changing NBA success.

Saunders had just joined the front office, and between him and McHale decided to take a risk on Kevin Garnett, who became the first player to jump directly to the NBA from high school in 20 years.

While Garnett’s draft stock was rumored to be on the rise leading into draft night, it was still a bold move for Saunders and McHale to take the leap to take a high school player. Experienced college players still on the board included big men Bryant Reeves and Cherokee Parks and dynamic guards like Damon Stoudamire and Ed O’Bannon.

But the Wolves made the correct, bold choice.

Here are Twitter tributes from the organization and Fox Sports North.

We all know what happened next, but here’s the quick version.

After the Wolves fired head coach Bill Blair and Saunders moved from the front office to the bench, Garnett became a starter midway through his rookie season. The Wolves improved from 21 wins the previous season to 26 in 1995-96.

Then, in KG’s second season, the Wolves won 40 games and made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. That started a string of eight consecutive seasons that Garnett and Saunders led the Timberwolves to the postseason, culminating in the Western Conference Finals appearance at the end of Garnett’s MVP season in 2004.

Garnett was traded and won a championship in Boston and eventually came back for two seasons to cap off his career after Saunders was back in charge in Minnesota. However, after Flip’s untimely death in 2015, Garnett’s second divorce from the franchise was equally as messy.

As of today, The Big Ticket is about to get his jersey retired by the Boston Celtics, but that same gesture is not going to take place at Target Center anytime soon.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate the 19,201 points scored, 970 games played, or eight playoff trips to which Kevin Garnett carried the Minnesota Timberwolves.

dark. Next. Wolves all-time roster ranked No. 29

And none of that could have happened without June 28, 1995.