Why have the Timberwolves not retired Kevin Garnett’s number?

Kevin Garnett, Minnesota Timberwolves Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Garnett, Minnesota Timberwolves Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports /

When it comes to debating who the greatest player in the history of the Minnesota Timberwolves is, the discussion is not a very lengthy one. Everyone agrees that Kevin Garnett remains the greatest player to ever don a Wolves uniform.

During his time in Minnesota, Garnett racked up an impressive trophy case of accolades. He won the 2004 MVP award, and was selected to eight All-NBA teams as well as eight All-Defensive teams. In his first 12 years with the franchise, Garnett was consistently one of the best players in the NBA, and he was the chief reason the Wolves made eight straight playoff appearances from 1997 to 2004.

Anyone would expect Garnett’s number 21 jersey to be hanging in the Target Center rafters, never to be worn by another Timberwolves player again. But while no one has worn KG’s number since his retirement in 2016, his jersey remains unretired by the franchise.

The only jersey number officially retired by the organization is Malik Sealy’s number two, which was hung in the rafters after his tragic death in 2000. Besides Sealy, Minnesota also has an honorary retired jersey for Flip Saunders, the Wolves’ former head coach for 12 seasons who passed away in 2015.

Malik Sealey has the only jersey number retired by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Kevin Garnett’s jersey not being retired is an extremely unique occurrence. Nearly every player who is considered the greatest in their franchise’s history has had their number honored with a retirement ceremony.

But in fact, it has been Garnett’s choice to not have his jersey retired by the Timberwolves. The reason behind his decision involves his relationship with current majority owner of the franchise, Glen Taylor.

A business magnate and former Minnesota politician, Taylor has owned the Minnesota Timberwolves since 1994. The relationship between he and Kevin Garnett soured in 2015 when Flip Saunders passed away.

When KG returned to the Wolves in February, he and Flip reportedly had an understanding that he would eventually become a minority owner of the team after he retired. But when Saunders passed away, that arrangement was not agreed upon by Glen Taylor.

Kevin Garnett’s relationship with Glen Taylor is impeding his jersey retirement.

As a result, Garnett felt cheated by Taylor and no longer wishes to associate with him. It seems that while Taylor remains the majority owner of the Timberwolves, Kevin Garnett will not agree to have his number 21 jersey retired.

But as many are aware, the ownership group in Minnesota is currently in a transition process. Former Major League Baseball legend Alex Rodriguez along with his business partner Marc Lore agreed to buy the team in April of 2021. By 2024, they will make their final payment to Taylor and officially become majority owners of the franchise.

It stands to reason that Kevin Garnett could change his mind about getting his jersey retired in Minnesota once Rodriguez and Lore become the team’s owners. After all, his issue is with Glen Taylor, not the Timberwolves organization.

If Garnett does indeed change his stance once ownership shifts, Wolves fans could expect to see his jersey in the rafters as soon as the 2024-25 season. Finally getting to celebrate the greatest player in franchise history with a jersey retirement ceremony would be a massive moment for Timberwolves fans and the organization.

Next. 10 Worst free agent signings in Timberwolves history. dark