I used to be a sports freak. A Minnesota sports freak. A total homer. I faithfully watched the Twins, Timberwolves, Vikings, North Stars, and Gophers. I could tell you players' names, positions, numbers, the colleges they came from, their stats for that season, and who their family members were. I screamed at the television and pounded on footstools when Dennis Green coached the Vikings. I cried when Kirby Puckett was forced to retire.
During the 1987 World Series, Hammer and I sat on my living room floor, next to my dad's recliner, and watched every play while we made our own Homer Hankies. In 1991 I sat in the barracks lounge for every play as the Twins beat the Braves for their second World Series title. As time has gone on, though, I've been pushed further from sports by grandstanding players, off-field idiocy, ridiculous contracts, and--maybe--a desire to do something else with my time. My teams picked up players like J.R. Rider and Randy Moss. Athletes have been involved in murder trials, controversies, and general jackassery.
I still had one connection to sports, though. Kevin Garnett.
I liked him when he came straight out of high school as an enthusiastic, well-mannered kid with a lot of potential and more energy than any two other players. I liked that as he grew he seemed to "get it." He treated people well, he didn't get involved in a bunch of silliness off the court, and he played the game hard as hell every time out. He turned into one of the league's best players while remaining a good guy and sticking with his mostly-horrible teammates out of admirable loyalty.
But today the Timberwolves traded Garnett to the Boston Celtics for five players and two draft picks. I hate to see Garnett go, but I can't get too mad--I left town before he did. I can follow his career in Boston as easily as I could in Minnesota. And the Wolves were going to be terrible this year with or without Garnett. Might as well let him try to win something while this team goes about rebuilding.
This might be it for me and sports, though. It was mainly the fact that my team (MINE) had this special player that I even cared to follow them. I like some of the new players the Wolves have--Craig Smith, Corey Brewer, Randy Foye, Rashad McCants--but I don't know if I'm interested enough to pay attention. I used to sit in my mom's living room and watch Timberwolves games in Garnett's early days, when Garnett and Tom Gugliotta were all that the Wolves had. We loved those teams. Now I don't know if I can be bothered.