Timberwolves legend Kevin Garnett has an “Area 21” feature as part of TNT’s NBA coverage, and on Thursday he had on a panel of WNBA greats — including Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen. Not long after she got back from a much-needed vacation in Hawaii and not long before she flew to Atlanta for her TV appearance, Whalen chatted with the Star Tribune’s Michael Rand.
Q How much interaction have you had with Garnett over the years?
A I got to know him a little bit when he was here for his last season with the Wolves. ... He’d be lifting or working out, and we got to know each other better then. We’d talk a lot about the game. You can tell he loves talking about the game of basketball, including team aspects and leadership qualities. He always wanted to know about the culture on the Lynx because we had three championships at the time. I felt like he was enamored with how we were able to do that for that long of a stretch. He always wanted to talk about how the Lynx did things and told me how impressed he was with the team.
Q You and KG reached a certain peak when your Final Four year coincided with the Wolves making the conference finals and KG winning MVP. What do you remember about the basketball frenzy at the time and you winning Star Tribune Sportsperson of the Year over KG and Johan Santana?
A That was a crazy year in sports. We had all those teams that were really successful. Our team kind of took the state by storm. I loved watching the Wolves, too. It’s cool that I got to beat out one of my idols for that award. I grew up idolizing Kevin Garnett. He was everyone’s favorite player.
Q In general, how much support is there between the WNBA and NBA teams — or specifically, even, the players on the Lynx and Wolves?
A It’s huge. Before our playoffs started, I was talking to Jimmy Butler and Jamal Crawford for like 15-20 minutes. Jamal especially knew everything that was going on in our league — standings, who was playing well, what we needed to do. He told me I could probably play three or four more years with how crafty I am. He’s 37, so that was pretty cool. He’s super encouraging. Tyus Jones has been my guy for a lot of years. I could go on and on. Gorgui Dieng. KAT [Karl-Anthony Towns] is always giving support. Vice versa, of course, we do the same. I told Jimmy and Jamal that I’m super excited for their season and what they have an opportunity to do this year. All in all, we want to support them and I know they want to support us. I just got flowers from Scott Layden and Tom Thibodeau to congratulate me on the championship. That kind of thing means so much.
Q I know the Vikings are your team. They potentially have a big decision to make at quarterback. How does a decision like that play out as players watch it in a locker room?
A Renee [Montgomery] was playing great this season when I was coming back from my hand injury. We were playing great, but the coach and team wanted to put things back where they were. But being out for five weeks like I was is different from being out for a year or more. I would think they’d probably stick with [Case] Keenum. On a team, whoever is rolling and playing well, that’s who teams want to rally behind. Ultimately, everyone wants to win. Whoever can get them to 7-2 is who they’re going to get behind.