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Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968.

Reusse: Asiata's time arrives again ... and again

Matt Asiata was standing on a sideline at the Vikings fieldhouse Thursday, after the team had finished a special teams drill. A reporter asked: “Who were the Omaha Nighthawks?’’

Asiata crinkled his forehead and said: “No idea. Why are you asking?’’

Answer: “Your football résumé indicates you spent time with the Nighthawks.’’

Asiata smiled and said: “Oh, yeah … that was when the CFL was trying to establish franchises in the States. Omaha was one. I was there a couple of weeks in 2011 on a tryout, then the Vikings called and I came here.’’

The running back had played at Utah. The Utes had defeated Alabama in a Sugar Bowl during Asiata’s time there.

Asiata made it through 2011 training camp with the Vikings. “I was on the practice squad for the first week, and then was cut,’’ he said. “I went back home to Utah and got a job driving a forklift in a big warehouse.’’

The reporter pointed to the fieldhouse roof and said: “Big, like this?’’

Asiata said: “Yeah, except we were moving boxes of tools, not chasing footballs.’’

James Saxon was the running backs assistant for coach Leslie Frazier. He had recommended Asiata the first time, and he helped convince the Vikings to give Asiata another shot in the offseason of 2012.

Asiata showed the extra effort a long-shot requires. He ran past the safeties every time he was tossed a short pass in a drill. He went full-bore on special teams at all times.

Special teams allowed him to play in 16 games in 2012 while touching the ball on offense four times. He had third-down duty in 2013. He had 164 carries and 44 receptions when Adrian Peterson was absent for 15 games in 2014.

Last year, it was back to special teams and spare duties, but now Peterson likely will miss the rest of the season. Asiata becomes vital to the offense again, along with Jerick McKinnon and perhaps newcomer Ronnie Hillman.

There is no celebrating for Asiata. “Adrian and I are friends,’’ he said. “I’ve probably spent more time in meetings with him than anyone. It’s another setback he will overcome.’’

PLUS THREE FROM PATRICK

Unheralded running backs who stuck around with the Vikings:

Leroy Hoard (1996-99): “If you need 1 yard, I’ll get you 3. If you need 5 yards, I’ll get you 3.’’— Hoard.

Jim Lindsey (1966-72): “Politically, Lindsey is to the right of Genghis Khan.’’ — Fran Tarkenton.

Allen Rice (1984-90): “We’ve had that since camp and finally used it.’’ — Anthony Carter, on 10-yard TD halfback pass from Rice in the playoff rout of the Saints.

Read Patrick Reusse’s blog at startribune.com/patrick. E-mail him at preusse@startribune.com.

Reusse: Garnett's return to Wolves 'was pretty much a sham'

Minnesota’s memories of Kevin Garnett as a basketball player and the Timberwolves as a franchise both would have been better off if he had not been traded back to Minnesota on Feb. 19, 2015.

The Wolves gave up Thad Young, a player of some value who was headed for free agency.

Flip Saunders was running the basketball operation and was the coach when the trade was made. He helped to sell a vision of Garnett arriving to offer assistance over the final two months of the schedule to a young team that was losing persistently.

That whole sales pitch to fans was pretty much a sham.

Garnett’s return produced an enthused sellout crowd in Target Center on Feb. 25. He played through a homestand, but wound up playing only five of the 29 games that were left on the schedule.

The Timberwolves then gave Garnett, who had turned 39 on May 19, 2015, a two-year, $16 million contract. There had to be a guarantee from Flip that the Wolves would give Garnett such a contract for K.G., always the reluctant one, to accept the trade back home to the Timberwolves.

It made little sense from a basketball standpoint. Flip’s death on Oct. 25 – the eve of the 2015-16 season opener – shook the Timberwolves (and Minnesotans, in general) to their core.

Sam Mitchell was left to deal with Garnett, who had to be treated with reverence even though some work on the defensive board was about all he had left to contribute. He would play in only 38 games.

If you want to buy the leadership angle for the young roster, that’s fine, but the 556 minutes that Garnett played could have been better spent with younger players.

I don’t know. Maybe Adreian Payne could have learned more about sharing the basketball with teammates with 300 of those minutes.

The P.R. move of bringing back Garnett for a couple of sellouts at Target Center late in the 2014-15 season wound up costing an additional $16 million for the 38 games which he played on a bad knee last season. The Timberwolves had to give him the second $8 million of the two-year contract to persuade him to announce retirement on Friday.

Sixteen million for portions of 38 games is bad business even in the NBA, where money is burned like a pile of leaves (at least, the piles of leaves that we used to be able to burn in Minnesota autumns).

The Twins brought back Torii Hunter in 2015 for $10.5 million. They got 139 games, 22 home runs, 81 RBI and leadership that was palpable. Hunter provided a respite from what now has been re-established without him as the most-pathetic six-season stretch (2011-2016) in the 56-year history of the franchise.

Hunter had more hits (125) for the twins in his final season than Garnett had points (122) for the Wolves.

One terrific player for a franchise left a wonderful taste for baseball fans. In my opinion, the other has left a taste with local NBA fans that has us wishing the reunion had never happened.

The memories of Garnett should have been as the magnificent combatant of the Target Center court through eight playoff seasons.

It’s a cliché but also a truism: K.G.’s Game 7 vs. Sacramento remains one of the two or three  greatest nights in Minnesota sports in the past 25 years (starting with Oct. 28, 1991), the day after the Twins-Braves World Series.

I loved watching Da Kid from his arrival in the fall of 1995 through the spring of 2004. It wasn’t so much fun when it all came apart during the 2004-05 season. And beyond that first night back on Feb. 25, 2015, it was not fun at all this time, watching Kevin try to play with a bad knee and zero offensive game.

TV Listings

Local Schedule

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  • Vikings at Carolina

    12 pm on Ch. 9, 100.3/1130

  • Seattle at Twins

    1:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Wild at Buffalo (preseason)

    6 pm on 100.3-FM

  • Twins at Kansas City

    6:15 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Colorado at Wild (preseason)

    7 pm on 100.3-FM

  • Twins at Kansas City

    6:15 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Twins at Kansas City

    6:15 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Wild at Winnipeg (preseason)

    7 pm on NHLN, 100.3-FM

  • Lindenwood at Gophers women's hockey

    7:07 pm

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    7:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Lindenwood at Gophers women's hockey

    2:07 pm

  • Gophers football at Penn State

    2:30 pm on BTN, 100.3-FM

  • Twins at Chicago White Sox

    6:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Jacksonville at Minnesota United FC

    7 pm on Ch. 29

Today's Scoreboard

  • NY Yankees

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    - Bot 2nd

    0

    0

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    Detroit

     

    - Top 1st

    4

    0

  • Atlanta

    Miami

    12:10 PM

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    0

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    1

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    12:35 PM

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    1:10 PM

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    3:10 PM

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    San Diego

    3:40 PM

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    Chicago Cubs

    7:08 PM

    ESPN

  • Oakland

    Tennessee

     

    - 1st, 2:30

    7

    3

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    Green Bay

     

    - 1st, 1:01

    3

    14

  • Arizona

    Buffalo

     

    - 1st, 2:00

    0

    3

  • Denver

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    - 1st, 1:55

    3

    7

  • Cleveland

    Miami

     

    - End 1st

    0

    7

  • Minnesota

    Carolina

     

    - 1st, 2:49

    0

    10

  • Baltimore

    Jacksonville

     

    - 1st, 3:52

    7

    0

  • Washington

    NY Giants

     

    - 1st, 2:33

    3

    14

  • San Francisco

    Seattle

    3:05 PM

    FOX

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    3:05 PM

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    3:25 PM

    CBS

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    3:25 PM

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    3:25 PM

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    Dallas

    7:30 PM

    NBC

No NBA games today

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    St. Louis

     

    - 1st, 4:50

    1

    1

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    Columbus

    6:00 PM

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    Los Angeles

    3:00 PM

    ESPN

  • New England

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    6:00 PM

    FOX SPORTS 1