Kevin Garnett is coming back to Minnesota, as so many before him have done. Here is our unofficial ranking — in terms of magnitude — when it comes to former Minnesota athletes or coaches (post-Tarkenton) returning in the same capacity for the same team they once played for or led:
1Randy Moss: As popular as KG was in his prime, Moss captured the imagination of Minnesota fans unlike any athlete we’ve seen in the past 20 years. So when the Vikings — fresh off coming painfully close to reaching the Super Bowl in 2009 but floundering the next year — brought Moss back for another try in 2010, it was a huge deal. And remember: Even though it wasn’t the Moss of his prime, he had 1,264 receiving yards and 13 touchdown catches for New England in 2009, the year before he came here. So there was still something left in the tank … even if the move worked out about as well as Moss treated local caterers.
2Kevin Garnett: KG moves right into the No. 2 spot because of the magnitude of his legacy, the bitterness when he left and the stunning pace at which his return came about (at least publicly). Less than 24 hours before the trade to Brooklyn was confirmed, no hint of it even existed. So many questions linger: How much will Garnett play? Does he want to come back for another season after this? Will he eventually buy the team, as he has suggested he would like to do? Those are all questions for the future. For now, this is fun. Let’s enjoy it.
3 Bud Grant: The legendary Vikings coach came back in 1985 to clean up the mess left by Les Steckel’s one-year try in 1984. It was a nice surprise and a good stopgap (Minnesota went 7-9 under Grant after going 3-13 under Steckel), but it wasn’t intended to be permanent. Jerry Burns took over in 1986.
4 Torii Hunter: The beloved former Twins player is back in a role similar to Garnett’s — serving as a mentor while still aiming to be productive. On the star scale, though, Hunter falls a notch below Moss and KG.
5 Flip Saunders: When Saunders was fired 10 years ago, in February 2005, it was hard to envision the path that would lead him back to the Timberwolves as head coach. But here he is — and reunited with KG, too.
Honorable mention: Andrew Brunette (Wild), Corey Brewer (Wolves): Both players did solid work with their teams, then left and continued to do solid work, then came back and did more solid work.