Tuesday’s game between the Wolves and Oklahoma City at Target Center was a meeting of the big man mutual admiration society, one encompassing three generations of players, at least in NBA career terms: Kevin Garnett, Kevin Durant and Karl-Anthony Towns.
Shortly after the Thunder finished its morning shoot-around, Durant talked about how Garnett was a role model of his growing up.
“He’s like a mentor,” said Durant, 27, about the 39-year-old Garnett. “I watched the way he played, his interviews, how he conducted himself as a leader and as a teammate. You can learn from that.”
Well, back at you. Turns out Towns, the rookie, feels much the same way about Durant. When Towns was a freshman at a New Jersey High School, he got the opportunity to interview Durant for MSG Varsity network, introducing Durant as one of his basketball idols.
Towns didn’t talk much about that interview Tuesday, but Durant remembered it well.
“I didn’t really know who he was,” Durant said. “I just though he was another tall guy they wanted to be a good player. But as I’ve seen him progress — I saw him again in 2012 when he played for the Dominican Republic national team with coach [John Calipari]. I saw him there and it kind of shocked me, because I didn’t know he was that good. Once he got to Kentucky I said, ‘This kid is going to be a Hall of Famer.’ ”
Been there, done that
The Thunder, led by Durant and Russell Westbrook, was a team that was built slowly, but steadily, through the draft. And Durant sees some similarities with the way the Wolves are building around their young players.
“[The Wolves are] doing it the right way,” Durant said. “I respect teams that do it this way. I know how hard it is, how tough it is. … But everything takes time.”
Towns isn’t the only Wolves player with a Durant connection.
Wolves guard Zach LaVine spent offseason time in Oklahoma City shooting a shoe commercial. In the ad, a pickup game is being played at a playground, and Durant is there watching when a fellow goes up for a monster dunk that wows the crowd and Durant.
There is a quick shot of LaVine, sitting in the stands, reading a book titled “The Funk on Dunk.” LaVine, the reigning slam dunk champion, is unimpressed. He just turns his head, shrugs his shoulders and continues reading.
“It was cool,” LaVine said. “I had a subtle, comic part in it, I thought. So maybe my acting career isn’t as bad as I thought it could be. Hopefully, one day I can get a couple lines in there.”
• With neither Garnett nor Nikola Pekovic available to play on both ends of a back-to-back, the Wolves rested Pekovic on Tuesday. That way he can play in Houston on Wednesday while Garnett rests.