Stephon Marbury insists he didn't turn down the Miami Heat, but all I can think about is how I wish the Timberwolves had turned down Stephon Marbury.
Bleacher Report lists Marbury-Garnett as the #1 "what if" in NBA history. I remember because drafting Garnett is what turned me into an NBA fan.
I'd given up on the NFL in the mid-80s after watching a wheelchair-bound Jim Otto inducted into the Hall of Fame. I couldn't watch football after that. I'd been a Raiders fan, but I had to admit that as a labor activist, I had no business rooting for a sport that routinely crippled its players and dramatically shortened their lives.
But I missed sports. My eyes aren't good enough to follow baseball or hockey but a basketball is pretty easy to follow no matter how blind you may be. Kevin Garnett made me a Wolves fan. Stephon Marbury convinced me that being a Wolves fan would be a good thing.
And I kept believing that. I kept believing that after a very attractive client told me about Marbury boorishly hitting on her at a club. I kept believing that after gossip columnists told me that Marbury was a jerk, and a bad influence on Garnett. And I kept believing after Marbury churlishly forced a trade to New York.
But what really hurts is remember what could have been. We traded Ray Allen for Stephon Marbury. Ray freaking Allen for Stephon headcase Marbury.
That, as many of you recall, was not the worst of it. We also passed on (in the order of their being picked):
- Kobe Bryant (#13)
- Peja Stojakovic (#14)
- Steve Nash (#15)
- Jermain O'Neal (#17)
- Zydrunas Ilgauskas (#20)
- Derek Fisher (#24)
Hindsight makes it all easy, but it was Kevin Garnett who wanted Marbury, just as it was Kevin Garnett who got McHale and Taylor to cut a deal with Joe Smith.
I don't like Garnett like I used to. I still found myself rooting for him against the Lakers, but each year it gets a little harder. Remembering back on what could have been makes it harder still.