Torii Hunter on Kevin Garnett: ‘I’m Glad To See Him Back’

Torii Hunter on Kevin Garnett: 'I'm Glad To See Him Back'

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  • Minnesota Twins outfielder Torii Hunter is excited about the return of Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett.
  • Garnett describes his return as “a storybook ending” during his Feb. 24 press conference.

Returning Minnesota Twins outfielder Torii Hunter told CBS Minnesota on Feb. 24 he’s glad to see returning Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett back in the Twin Cities.

Torii Hunter is sure glad Kevin Garnett is back. 

The returning Minnesota Twins outfielder got a chance to talk about Garnett’s second tour of duty with the Minnesota Timberwolves during the Twins’ Spring Training workouts in Fort Myers, Fla. on Feb. 24. Both men find themselves in a familiar situation, per WCCO-TV’s (CBS Minnesota) Mark Rosen. 

Rosen says the 39-year-old Hunter returned to Minnesota last summer after spending several seasons with the Los Angeles Angels and Detroit Tigers. Hunter will be assigned to right field and will also serve as mentor to the Twins’ young players.

The WCCO-TV report describes Hunter as “excited” when he found about Garnett’s return to the Timberwolves on the NBA Trade Deadline on Feb. 19. Rosen says Hunter “was one of Garnett’s biggest fans when the two shared the Twin Cities spotlight in professional sports.”

Hunter said,”I’m glad to see him back. I’ve always had respect for you, man, and Minnesota you know that’s our love, that’s where we grew up. It’s nice to see both of us come back where our true love is, and KG — congratulations, baby. I’ll see you at Seven (Steakhouse).”

Rosen concluded his report by saying Minnesota fans are just as excited to have Hunter back in the fold as they are with Garnett. 

In his news conference on Feb. 24, the Timberwolves forward said he tried to re-acquiant himself with Minneapolis after being away from the city for eight years. Garnett, who previously played 12 seasons in Minnesota, also discussed the people who he barely recognized when he came back. Among them are head coach Flip Saunders’ son Ryan and daughter Rachel, per Dane Mizutani of the Timberwolves’ official website:

“I’ll be honest…I don’t even recognize downtown. There were one-ways that are two-ways now. I’m asking about some of the restaurants from when I was here and some of those have closed or moved. I just got to get re-acquainted with the city.

“I haven’t seen Flip’s daughter since she had a pacifier in her mouth and now she’s a grown lady working in the front office. Ryan [Saunders], who was a ball kid, was like 10 years old and now he’s a grown man with a voice deeper than both of ours.”

Despite Garnett’s eight-year hiatus from the Twin Cities, Mizutani says it’s as if he never left at all. Hard evidence of this is Garnett’s home in Minnesota, which he maintained and visited whenever he got the chance. He also addressed each local reporter on a first-name basis during his press conference on Tuesday. 

Garnett had to waive a no-trade clause in his contract with the Brooklyn Nets for him to go back to the Timberwolves. He said he wouldn’t do this for another team. He went on to say his return to Minnesota is “a storybook ending,” per Mizutani:

“I didn’t get any sleep the night before the trade deadline and the two days before that. I didn’t like to do anything during the season. If anything, I like to do things, obviously, in the offseason. I have kids in school and family, so it wasn’t my cup of tea…I just thought as far as my options as far as what I want to do after basketball, this is probably the best situation, a storybook ending.”

He also told Mizutani he’s still competitive and could possibly own a majority stake with the Timberwolves once he retires from the NBA:

“I’m still competitive. I know I’m not a 30-plus minute guy anymore and I’m not looking for that. I’ve already addressed that with Flip. I know my body is different now and I have to listen to my body. I want to be effective and productive and whatever I can give, I will.

“That’s a goal (owning the team). I want to understand ownership and try to get into that and and bring a championship to this city. That’s been my goal since I came to the Wolves.”

The Timberwolves selected Garnett in the first round of the 1995 NBA draft. He quickly became one of the league’s best at his position. His most memorable season in Minnesota came during the 2003-04 NBA season, when he won MVP honors and guided the Timberwolves to their only Western Conference Finals stint in franchise history, per Mizutani.

Minnesota then traded Garnett to the Boston Celtics on July 31, 2007. He won his only NBA championship with the team during the 2007-08 NBA season. The rebuilding Celtics then traded Garnett along with his friend Paul Pierce to the Brooklyn Nets in 2013. Now, he’s back to where it all began, per the Timberwolves’ official website.

Garnett is expected to mentor young Timberwolves such as Ricky Rubio and Andrew Wiggins. He will also shore up their power forward rotation. Garnett will start against the Washington Wizards on Feb. 25, per FOX Sports North’s Phil Ervin. 

Garnett has averaged 18.3 points, 10.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists in his 20-year NBA career, per ESPN stats

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