With the Wolves and San Antonio set to play their first game against each other this season, Kevin Garnett took some time after the morning shootaround to talk about his career-long competition with Spurs power forward Tim Duncan.
Both are 39. Because Garnett came to the NBA straight out of high school, his career began in 1995, with Duncan’s first season with the Spurs coming in the 1997-98 campaign.
But, being in the same conference so much of their careers, they have played against each other countless times.
“Epic, epic,” Garnett said when asked about his career-long competition with Duncan. “Tim’s always been a fierce competitor. Always respected him, I’ve always respected his body of work, his accomplishments. Not just that, but the Spurs organization. He and Tony (Parker) have been a tandem to deal with for a long time.’’
Though they may have had different strengths and styles, Garnett and Duncan have strikingly similar numbers. Entering tonight’s game Garnett has 26,023 points, 11,422 defensive rebounds and 14,628 total rebounds. Duncan has 26,211 points, 11,060 defensive rebounds and 14,853 total rebounds. Playing with one of the best organizations in the league, Duncan has been a part of five NBA title teams. Garnett had to win his ring with Boston in 2008.
But, together, the two have helped shape what a power forward in the NBA can be.
“I treasure all the competitors I’ve played against,” Garnett said. In his career Garnett went against great forwards like Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, Rasheed Wallace, just to name a few. But, having entered the league at about the same time, Garnett said his games against Duncan hold some special memories.
“We played countless different times,” he said. “So that makes it a little more epic. That’s what you want in this league, someone that you always measure yourself up against. People comparing you, etcetera. But I’ve always looked at it as a challenge. I’ve always looked forward to the matchup.’’
These two teams are in different places, again.
The Wolves, loaded with young talent being mentored by the likes of Garnett, Tayshaun Price and Andrew Miller, are trying work their way into playoff contention. The Spurs, having augmented their roster though free agency – most notably by signing center LaMarcus Aldridge – enter tonight’s game with the league’s second-best record. The Spurs are 24-5 and have a six-game winning streak. Only 26-1 Golden State is ahead of them.
Here are some other notes from today’s morning shootaround:
--Garnett, whose career-long matchup with Duncan is winding down, sees another one for fans to watch in the next few years: Spurs star Kawhi Leonard vs. Wolves rising star Andrew Wiggins.
The two have taken different paths.
The 6-7, 230-pound Leonard, the 15th pick in the 2011 draft, has become a big star, already with a championship ring; he was the NBA finals MVP in 2014. The 6-8, 200-pound Wiggins was the top draft pick in 2014. He won rookie of the year honors. Both wing players, these two figure to see a lot of each other in the future.
The one similarity is that both have relatively quiet personas.
“These two quiet guys are going to see each other, probably, for the next 10, 12 years,” Garnett said. “Although these two guys are quiet, their games are monstrous. Their games speak volumes.’’
--Back from his highly-successful stint in the Development League, Tyus Jones said his six-game experience with the Idaho Stampede went as well as he could have hoped. “You go down there trying to prove a point,” Jones said, “trying to make a statement. I think I played pretty well down there.’’
That he did, averaging 2.7 points, 35.2 minutes and 5.0 assists per game. He shot 48.7 percent overall, 42.6 percent from three-point range.