Wolves line up against KG's Celtics tonight in London

  • Article by: CHUCK CULPEPPER , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 10, 2007 - 7:43 AM

In July, five Celtics became Timberwolves and the greatest Wolf of all, Kevin Garnett, now wears Celtic green. As the Wolves prepare to take on the Celtics, the five newest Wolves reflect on Boston's influence on them.

LONDON — If it's surreal to see a red rubber bracelet wrapped around Kevin Garnett's right wrist and reading "Red Sox Nation," well, tonight just figures to be weird all around.

Even if Garnett decided to take the evening off and go ride the London Eye, an unlikely prospect, there still would be five new Wolves who just left the Boston Celtics only to find their first NBA preseason foe will be those same Celtics, tonight at the gaudy O2 Arena along the Thames River in East London.

In the cases of three of the five players exchanged for Garnett on July 31 -- Al Jefferson, Gerald Green and Ryan Gomes -- that's the same Celtic green that quelled their draft-night stress a few years back and granted them entry into the NBA.

The other two, Sebastian Telfair and Theo Ratliff, were in Boston for only one season. Ratliff played only two Boston games, yet might have had the best year of the five because his twin sons, Adonis and Darius Ratliff, were born.

"Boston will always be home to me," said Jefferson, 22.

Back in 2004, before he became the Most Valuable Player Traded For Kevin Garnett, Jefferson was just your average 6-10, 256-pound Mississippi high schooler who'd hoarded points (42 per game), rebounds (18 per game) and descriptions as a "man-child" (here and there in mock drafts).

When Portland and Atlanta considered taking Jefferson in the second half of the first round, Boston picked him at No. 15 in what became known as a coup for Danny Ainge, the Celtics' executive director of basketball operations.

"They mean a lot," Jefferson said of the Celtics. "That was the team that drafted me, the team that took a chance on me when a lot of teams didn't want to."

He's grateful, but at least those other franchises spared him the anxiety of the dreaded draft slide that befell Green and Gomes.

"I mean, I still think of Boston the same," said Green, 21, who went 18th in 2005 after analysts compared him to Tracy McGrady and pegged him to be drafted much higher coming out of Gulf Shores Academy in Houston. "They gave me a chance. ... They were the first people to take me when I was slipping in the draft."

In wizened business-world mode at 21, Green wishes the Celtics the best while saying he's "glad where I'm at, Minnesota. This is my new home. Hopefully this'll be where I'm at for the rest of my career."

It's possible the Celtics brought the most relief to Gomes, who'd declared draft eligibility in 2004 before reconsidering and playing another year at Providence. By the time the 2005 draft came around, the New England kid had rented a hotel suite for about 75 friends and family members at a Holiday Inn Express in Waterbury, Conn.

They waited.

And waited.

"That night?" Gomes said. "I'll never forget it."

A college power forward who had worked to become a small forward for the NBA, Gomes figured he'd go in the first round. He thought returning to school would've cemented that. After the picks went past 30 to 35 to 40 to Orlando choosing Martynas Andriuskevicius at No. 44, Gomes couldn't watch anymore.

He retreated to the hotel parking lot only to hear an audible roar come from the hotel when the Celtics chose him No. 50. Gomes said he felt both "very upset" and "also very grateful." Ainge would count himself lucky Gomes fell that far, and Gomes rewarded Ainge by averaging 12 points and 5.6 rebounds last season and, in a cold business, helped fetch Garnett.

"You think, 'Can I make it?' Because it's tough," Gomes said. "You have 99.9-percent confidence in yourself, but there's always that little bit of doubt because of what happened to previous people. Once you get past that, you're going to be OK."

He got past that in Boston and said, "I appreciate all of that and I will never forget that."

Weaker sentiment applies to Telfair and Ratliff. Portland took the ballyhooed Brooklyn prep point guard Telfair at No. 13 in 2004, two spots ahead of Boston's selection of Jefferson. When Boston traded for Telfair and Ratliff, Telfair said, "They saw something in me that probably a lot of other teams didn't."

He spent one season with the Celtics, 78 games, an eternity next to Ratliff. Lower-back surgery on Jan. 23 ended his season, after he'd played against Charlotte on Nov. 8 and Utah on Nov. 10, culling five points and seven rebounds.

Factor in a career that has spanned Detroit, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Portland, Boston and the Wolves, and Ratliff is used to this business. But for everybody else, as Garnett said of this matchup, "I didn't say it wasn't strange."

  • WOLVES VS. BOSTON

    NBA preseason: 1:30 p.m. today in London • TV: ESPN2

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Baltimore 2 FINAL
Detroit 15
NY Yankees 5 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Northeastern 1 FINAL
Boston 2
Miami-Fla 1 FINAL
Miami 7
Pittsburgh 8 FINAL
Toronto 7
San Francisco 4 FINAL
Oakland 9
Cleveland 0 FINAL
Cincinnati 10
Boston College 0 FINAL
Boston 1
Arizona State 0 FINAL
Arizona 4
Boston 79 FINAL
Cleveland 110
LA Lakers 103 FINAL
Charlotte 104
Sacramento 124 FINAL
New York 86
Houston 96 FINAL
Atlanta 104
Utah 93 FINAL
Memphis 82
Washington 92 FINAL
Chicago 97
Milwaukee 70 4th Qtr 12:00
Denver 76
Nashville 1 FINAL
New Jersey 3
Calgary 3 FINAL(OT)
Philadelphia 2
Washington 5 FINAL
Columbus 3
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay 3
Toronto 3 FINAL
Florida 2
Ottawa 2 FINAL(SO)
Minnesota 3
NY Islanders 1 3rd Prd 6:40
Dallas 2
Anaheim 2 3rd Prd
Arizona 1
Los Angeles 3 2nd Prd 8:31
Edmonton 0
San Jose 3 2nd Prd
Vancouver 0
Ole Miss 82 FINAL
Alabama 74
Eastern Mich 67 FINAL
Ball State 60
Kent State 81 FINAL
Bowling Green 80
Ohio 66 FINAL
Buffalo 93
Georgetown 60 FINAL
Butler 54
Toledo 77 FINAL
Central Mich 85
Rhode Island 59 FINAL
Dayton 75
Youngstown St 67 FINAL
Detroit 77
North Carolina 81 FINAL
Georgia Tech 49
Loyola-Maryland 45 FINAL
Holy Cross 62
Iowa 77 FINAL
Indiana 63
Akron 63 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 70
Army 52 FINAL
Navy 56
Maryland 60 FINAL
Rutgers 50
Kennesaw St 54 FINAL
USC Upstate 90
Jacksonville 63 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 81
Lipscomb 76 FINAL
Northern Ky 73
Stetson 67 FINAL
North Florida 81
Wright State 57 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 60
Western Mich 63 FINAL
Northern Ill 65
Nebraska Omaha 80 FINAL
North Dakota 78
Houston Baptist 71 FINAL
Abilene Christian 83
NC State 52 2nd Half 2:40
Clemson 39
Texas A&M 42 2nd Half 3:10
Florida 58
Kentucky 54 2nd Half 6:55
Georgia 56
West Virginia 53 2nd Half 7:50
Kansas 44
Auburn 61 2nd Half 0:11
Missouri 63
Michigan 57 2nd Half 0:20
Northwestern 56
Villanova 51 2nd Half 11:57
Creighton 43
Longwood 55 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 63
Charleston Southern 39 FINAL
Presbyterian 47
Coastal Carolina 54 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 68
NJIT 51 FINAL
UMass Lowell 60
West Virginia 55 FINAL
Kansas State 59
TCU 45 FINAL
Texas 79
Fresno State 61 FINAL
Air Force 41
San Jose St 76 FINAL
Boise State 91
Nevada 61 FINAL
Colorado State 68
UNLV 43 2nd Half 3:26
San Diego State 63
Wyoming 61 FINAL
Utah State 57
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which is your favorite 'return' by a Minnesota athlete?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close