Where does Adrian Peterson rank among Vikings greats — especially Randy Moss?

petersonlockerThe Vikings made an “as expected” move Tuesday in announcing they weren’t picking up Adrian Peterson’s $18 million option for 2017. Even if it was just procedural, though, and the Vikings can still sign Peterson after he hits free agency, the transaction inches us closer to the definite possibility that Peterson has played his final game in purple.

None other than Randy Moss — more on him in a minute — has already chimed in saying Peterson would love to play for the Texans.

Officially, the end isn’t here yet. But Tuesday’s news has me thinking more about Peterson’s legacy as a Viking.

In some senses, the legacy is complicated. His 2014 off-field issues and his penchant for untimely fumbles cannot be forgiven by some Vikings fans.

In other senses, it is not complicated. Peterson was one of the most gifted pure running backs in NFL history and had massive success at his position since being drafted No. 7 overall in 2007.

But where does he fit in among the Vikings’ all-time greats?

If we can treat this as a purely football question, it becomes easier to answer. I don’t know if that’s the right approach — and I think if Peterson had left Minnesota after seven seasons following 2013, we would think differently about him. But fair not, that’s how I want to tackle this question — in football terms only.

From there, we have to look at former Vikings players who spent a good chunk of Hall of Fame careers in purple. That’s the group Peterson — a future Hall of Famer — belongs in. These 11 players are on that list:

Alan Page (1967-1978)
Carl Eller (1964-1978)
Cris Carter (1990-2001)
Gary Zimmerman (1986-1992)
John Randle (1990-2000)
Paul Krause (1968-1979)
Randall McDaniel (1988-1999)
Ron Yary (1968-1981)
Chris Doleman (1985-1993, 1999)
Fran Tarkenton (1961-1966, 1972-1978)
Mick Tingelhoff (1962-1978)

Moss also has to be part of that conversation since he will be in the Hall someday, too (perhaps as soon as next year). I’d listen if you also wanted to put Jared Allen in the mix, but I’m not going to.

From there, it becomes difficult — particularly since so many of the players on this list were before my time. Was Peterson better than, say, Paul Krause — a defensive back who played 40 years before Peterson? I don’t know.

I would say this: Peterson belongs ahead of Chris Doleman, Cris Carter and John Randle on the list of all-time Vikings greats. That puts him into top-10 territory.

The most apt comparison is between Peterson and Moss — two game-changing, once-in-a-generation athletes.

Moss never won an MVP award; Peterson did, in 2012, when he had one of the greatest individual seasons in NFL history.

But Moss did redefine his position. We have seen running backs like Peterson before, as great as he is. We had never seen anything like Moss.

Both had NFC title games that will haunt them (Moss in 1998 and 2000, Peterson in 2009). Moss played for better teams with better quarterbacks and was a part of four playoff victories with the Vikings. Peterson’s prime was largely wasted as the Vikings searched for a long-term quarterback. But he was a part of just one playoff victory; the thing we remember more about his postseason games (2009 vs. New Orleans and 2015 vs. Seattle) was the fumbling.

Both are in the top 10, easily — within this franchise and within their NFL positions all-time.

In terms of the better all-time Viking? I’d put Moss over Peterson.

Here’s why people keep saying ‘Hanzal. So hot right now’ about new Wild player

hanzalYou might already know this. Congratulations if you do (but please read anyway. It won’t take long).

So: the Wild made a big trade a couple days ago to acquire Martin Hanzal and Ryan White from the Coyotes.

Hanzal was the bigger of the two prizes, coming to the Wild with a reputation for scoring and being good in the faceoff circle (with a 6-6 frame to presumably help with those gritty playoff-style goals the Wild will be seeking soon).

Hanzal was kept off the score sheet in his Wild debut Monday against the Kings. But that hasn’t stopped fans — either on Twitter or in person — from saying: “Hanzal. So hot right now” about him.

What is going on here?

Well, if you’ve seen the movie “Zoolander,” you know. There’s a scene in the comedy where Owen Wilson interrupts Ben Stiller — both of whom are male models — by making a grand entrance. Wilson’s character is named “Hansel.” Will Ferrell’s character is being interviewed and says, “Hansel. So hot right now. Hansel.

Change the spelling but keep the pronunciation basically the same and you have a great NHL meme with Hanzal. He used to see signs in Arizona with the quote. And at least one Wild fan had one at Xcel Energy Center on Monday.

If you didn’t know, now you know!

Wolves have slightly better chance of making playoffs than getting No. 1 pick

wigginstyusIf you can label a game for a team with a .400 winning percentage and 22 games remaining as a “must-win” contest, Monday’s Timberwolves game at Sacramento fit that description.

And, well, the Wolves played like it was a game they had to have, giving one of their most complete efforts of the season in a 102-88 victory that keeps them on the fringes, at least, of the Western Conference playoff race.

It’s an odd bit of good fortune that the Wolves have stumbled their way into this chase. Most years, a 24-36 record after 60 games would have us solely talking about the lottery. This year in the Western Conference, there are seven teams who are clearly going to make the postseason and another handful — including Minnesota — trying to make a run and steal the No. 8 spot with, say, 37 or 38 wins.

The Wolves are currently No. 5 in that group of six teams trying to claim one spot. Basketball Reference gives them a 5.1 chance of making the playoffs at this point and a 3.6 percent chance of winning the draft lottery to get the No. 1 pick.

The big problem I see is the schedule: the Wolves had many more of their easier games (and home games) at the front part of the season, when they were losing close games and looking disjointed in the process. At the end of the year, they’ll probably look back on home losses to the Nuggets, Hornets, Knicks and Pistons — all part of a 6-18 start — as culprits in a season that came up short of the playoffs.

Just eight of the Wolves’ final 22 games are at home. Broken down further, 11 of the last 15 are on the road. It’s hardly impossible to put together a winning streak away from Target Center, but the Wolves are 15-18 at home and just 9-18 on the road as of now.

That means the likely outcome is somewhere in the middle — no playoffs, and a decent lottery pick that isn’t at or near the very top — but at least the franchise heads into March with two possibilities instead of just the usual draft chatter.

If there is any hope the Wolves can gain the steam it takes to grab an unlikely playoff spot, it rests with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins — and particularly Wiggins, who has had a fantastic recent stretch that should garner him consideration for Western Conference Player of the Month in February.

The last time Wiggins scored fewer than 20 points in a game, Barack Obama was still president — Jan. 17 at San Antonio, when Wiggins was held to just 10 points.

Equally important (or perhaps even more so) is how Wiggins has been filling up other parts of the stat sheet lately. Most notably: he has at least one steal in each of his last 10 games and is averaging 2.1 steals per game in that span to go with his gaudy 30.2 ppg in the last 10.

Compare that to Wiggins’ first 50 games: he was still scoring (albeit not at such a high rate) with 22.1 ppg. But he was also averaging less than one steal per game (0.8).

In many cases lately, Wiggins has been stepping in front of cross-court passes to get his steals, leading to easy transition buckets. It’s part of an overall evolution in which Wiggins — who just turned 22, remember — seems to be seeing the game a step ahead of where he was even a couple months ago.

At the very least, Wiggins and the rest of the Wolves are getting to feel what it’s like to play meaningful games late in the season. Judging by Monday’s result, that pressure seems to suit them — and should make them eager to play more of these games in seasons to come.

Rankings show Gophers, Wild still have a lot of respect to earn

pitino2Most coaches will reply with the same general answer if you try to engage them in a discussion about rankings. The gist: rankings don’t matter.

That is, of course, true — particularly in the midst of a season. No championship was ever determined based on the subjective ordering of teams during the middle of a year.

What rankings can tell us, though, is how teams are at least perceived by the people who pay attention to them (namely the media, but others too). And in that regard, two rankings that came out Monday show that the two Minnesota teams dominating most of the winter sports headlines this year — the Wild and Gophers men’s basketball — have a lot of respect yet to earn.

The Gophers, in case you didn’t notice, weren’t ranked in the AP top 25 poll that came out Monday. So yes, a team that has won seven consecutive Big Ten games and convincingly defeated a team (Maryland) on the road that was in the top 25 last week is not ranked.

I mean, the RPI isn’t an end-all statistic, but the Gophers are tied for 15th in that key measure of power. Ranked teams like Iowa State (37 in the RPI) and Wichita State (41) can’t come close to comparing. Granted, both of those teams have impressive winning streaks of their own. It might just be the case of a week with not much movement at the bottom of the poll. And yes, the Gophers are just barely outside the top 25 with the most votes received of non-ranked teams.

Still, it’s surprising. That said, the Gophers were ranked earlier this year — and then proceeded to go on a five-game losing streak that led directly into this seven-game winning streak. Maybe Richard Pitino will enjoy a lower profile — at least until the Gophers win a few more and earn more respect.

As for the Wild: Minnesota is ranked No. 3 in ESPN’s latest NHL power rankings. That’s all fine and good, except that Chicago is No. 2. Power rankings tend to have a recency bias, and the Blackhawks defeated the Wild at Xcel Energy Center heading into Minnesota’s bye. But Chicago is still one point behind Minnesota and has played three more games than the Wild.

The power ranking is a reminder that as much as Minnesota is separating itself as a clear contender this year in the NHL, it won’t fully earn respect until it is able to make a deep playoff run — one that presumably would include finally toppling the Blackhawks, Until then, regardless of the standings, Chicago will be considered the bigger threat.

In honor of the Oscars: Maybe the Wolves really made these draft moves

If you stayed up late to watch the Oscars last night, you were rewarded with a mess-up for the ages. Better yet: if you went to bed one minute after “La La Land” was announced as the winner of the Best Picture award and managed to stay away from your smartphone until this morning, you woke up to one of the all-time “whaaaaaaaaaaaat?” moments in your life.

You didn’t come here for a recap, but just in case you somehow missed it and are getting your only movie news from a sports blog (and a writer who didn’t see ANY of the nominated films because, well, kids) “La La Land” was announced the winner. But it was a bizarre mistake that had to do with an incorrect envelope (or at least that’s what they want us to believe). After a few acceptance speeches from the cast and crew, the trophies were taken away and “Moonlight” was given the real award.

Amazing stuff. In searching for the sports equivalent, I thought about NFL officials ripping the Lombardi Trophy away from the Patriots after determining the Falcons were the true champions … but that didn’t quite seem right.

A far better comparison: a draft-night mix-up.

Max Rappaport got the ball rolling with this tweet about the 2015 NBA Draft. From there, I couldn’t resist looking back at a little Wolves history. Here are five Oscar-worthy do-overs from past Wolves drafts. If only they had the envelopes wrong …

wolves031. Josh Howard instead of Ndudi Ebi in 2003: Howard was a four-year player at Wake Forest and the kind of guy who could have immediately helped a veteran Wolves squad. Ebi was a high school-to-pros project. The Wolves passed on Howard with the No. 26 pick and took Ebi instead. But I have a feeling Warren Beatty really meant to say the Wolves took Howard, who went on to have a very nice career with the Mavericks. He just had the wrong envelope. And David Kahn will never be able to leap home.

wolves072. Joakim Noah instead of Corey Brewer in 2007: I have nothing against Brewer, a great guy who has carved out a nice NBA career despite being a terrible golfer and a poor outside shooter. But what the envelope really said in 2007 was that the Wolves took Joakim Noah, his Florida teammate, with the No. 7 pick instead of letting Noah slide to the Bulls at No. 9.

wolves093. Stephen Curry instead of Jonny Flynn (or Ricky Rubio) in 2009: This is the big one, of course. The Wolves had TWO chances to draft Steph Curry in 2009. And instead, they took two different point guards not named Curry. One was understandable. Rubio looked to be a rising star from Spain. While his career hasn’t quite lived up to that hype, he’s a solid NBA point guard. The real pain comes from Flynn at No. 6. It must just be one big misunderstanding and someday we’ll find out Curry’s name was really on that envelope.

wolves104. DeMarcus Cousins instead of Wes Johnson in 2010: We can play the hindsight game big-time on this one and insist the Wolves should have taken Paul George or Gordon Hayward (players who, like Johnson, were small forwards). But the more realistic lament is passing on Cousins. Sure, he’s been labeled a pain in the butt. He’s also one of the most dominant big men in the game. Did that piece of paper really say Cousins at No. 4 instead of Johnson? It’s possible.

wolves115. Klay Thompson instead of Derrick Williams: The 2011 draft was kind of a dud, and you can’t really fault the Wolves for choosing Williams — who was basically the consensus pick at No. 2 after Kyrie Irving went No. 1. But if you’ve seen the envelope like I have and know that it really had Klay Thompson’s name on it, you can’t help but wonder how the Wolves’ roster would be different now.

I was there 20 years ago for one of the greatest Gophers games (that never happened)

bobbyHere are all the things I remember about the Gophers men’s basketball team defeating Michigan 55-54 on Feb. 26, 1997 — 20 years ago Sunday — to clinch the Big Ten title.

*I was there. That’s important. I was the beat reporter covering Gophers men’s hockey at The Minnesota Daily that season, but the game was big enough that we sent two writers — myself and beat writer Todd Zolecki, who now covers the Phillies, along with a photographer — to a Wednesday night game in Ann Arbor. Lest you think this meant three plane tickets, think again. We drove, as usual, the 10 hours to Michigan.

*The game itself was kind of dull for a while and wasn’t at all going Minnesota’s way. Despite entering the game 24-2, the Gophers trailed the Wolverines by eight points with 10 minutes to play and still by four points with two minutes to play. But Bobby Jackson (who else) saved the day. I remember him hitting a baseline jumper to tie the game in the final minute. Then, as Michigan tried to hold for the final shot, fellow guard Eric Harris dove for a steal and knocked the ball to Jackson, who was fouled. He made one free throw with 2.9 seconds left, providing the final slim margin.

*The memory of covering this game is about as strong as any other game I’ve ever covered. Right up there: Game 163 at the Metrodome in 2009 and Game 2 of the ALCS at Yankee Stadium in 2004 (when the Twins had a chance to take a 2-0 series lead but lost in extra innings). It stands out not only because of the frantic finish but also because of these work-related points: 1) After the game, Zolecki and I each had about 45 minutes to write one story each (his the game story, mine the sidebar) and combine on another story comprised of notes from the game. These days, that would feel like plenty of time. As a college journalist who didn’t often work on deadline (covering hockey, with no web responsibilities and a Monday-Friday publishing schedule, our game stories from the weekend series didn’t appear until Monday’s paper), it felt like a nanosecond. 2) The Daily’s modem connection for sending in stories remotely was often tenuous at best. But somehow, some way, we not only wrote our stories but magically sent them from Michigan to Minnesota. I still remember talking to Quincy Lewis, a sophomore on the team, about some trash-talking the Wolverines had done. “That was like throwing gasoline on the fire,” he said, as I practically sprinted out of the victorious interview area to write my story.

*Remember, this was a year before the Big Ten added a postseason tournament. The regular-season title was the only one up for grabs. The Gophers claimed it for the first time in 15 years, and tough wins like the one at Michigan were the hallmark of that Final Four team.

*Because we were crazy, we drove back from Michigan the night after the game, arriving back in Minneapolis around 8 a.m. Thursday. I can’t remember if I went to class that day. I do remember it rained on our drive back, and it was so hard at one point that Zolecki, driving, turned off the wipers because they were so useless and declared he was just going to “use the force” to get us home. Hey, we made it.

*I don’t know if you can compare any Gophers team before or after that one to the 1996-97 squad. But I will say this year’s team has a flair for the dramatic and a defensive spirit that the team of 20 years ago would have to admire.

*Whenever people mention the 1996-97 Final Four eventually having to be vacated by the academic fraud scandal, I tend to think of that game at Michigan. You can wipe out record books, but you can’t wipe out memories. I will never forget that game and that team.

‘Slap Shot’ came out 40 years ago Saturday; it still resonates with players half that age

slapshot“Slap Shot,” the greatest hockey movie ever made and the most memorable sports movie ever made, was released in theaters on Feb. 25, 1977 — otherwise known as 40 years ago exactly as of Saturday.

Sure, the parts about “greatest” and “most memorable” are the stuff of debate, but I make those declarations as someone who didn’t even play hockey growing up. I encountered the movie for the first time at a neighbor’s house at around age 8 (I’m the same age as the movie, plus a few months). By now, thanks to hockey-loving friends and a genuine love of the movie, counting the number of viewings would be impossible.

As the movie about the ragtag bunch of minor league players for the Charlestown Chiefs aged, though, this thought crept in: does the younger generation — particularly hockey players — have the same reverence for the movie as those past? Could millennials relate to [redacted] machines taking quarters and brawling players putting on the foil?

I’m happy to report from a small but meaningful sample size — a Gophers men’s hockey locker room filled with players half the movie’s age — that “Slap Shot” is alive, well and still quoted with abundance.

Tyler Sheehy, a Gophers sophomore from Burnsville, said the movie was on a couple weekends ago when Minnesota was on a road trip.

“The team was in our hotel room, and on the team group chat, a message went out that ‘Slap Shot’ was on whatever channel it was, and so all the guys started watching,” Sheehy said. “It’s an awesome movie, and it’s great that it’s still part of hockey.”

Teammate Justin Kloos, a senior from Lakeville, agreed. He and road roommate Eric Schierhorn immediately put the movie on after getting the group message. But it was hardly the first time he had seen it.

“A lot of the dads passed it down. It was one of the first hockey movies they showed us when we were younger,” Kloos said. “We still think it’s funny. We’ve watched it multiple times at our house with the guys and still laugh at all the great parts.”

Kloos said the team will go on streaks where “Slap Shot” quotes are tossed about freely in the locker room.

“There’s not one line that stands out, but there are a lot of Ogie Ogilthorpe jokes,” he said, referring to one of the memorable goon characters in the movie. “I was a Hanson brother for probably four or five straight years for Halloween. We go in streaks with the quotes. If we watch it with a bunch of guys, we’ll quote it for a couple of months.”

Sheehy said part of the appeal is that there just aren’t a lot of great hockey movies. He checked off the Big Three — “Slap Shot,” “The Mighty Ducks” and “Miracle,” adding that there are “definitely not enough.” Kloos said players “try to incorporate ‘Happy Gilmore'” into their movie rotation “because there aren’t enough great hockey movies.”

More than anything, though, “Slap Shot” is just a hilarious hockey movie that really gets to the heart of the sport and the locker room.

“When you’re in locker room with 20 guys for a full year, there is going to be a lot of humor,” Sheehy said. “You’ll have those three guys that are goofballs. It resonates with the team and that kind of brotherhood.”

Said Kloos: “You rarely say nice things to each other, but that’s why we love each other. We build chemistry by making fun of each other.”

He paused for a moment and then added, “I’ll love that movie until the day I die.”

And that’s how a movie lives on.

NBA trade deadline: Wolves thoughts, rumors and an interesting Rubio tweet

rubiowalkWith the NBA trade deadline approaching Thursday, there are no guarantees the Timberwolves will make any moves. But there has been enough smoke over recent days … weeks … even months to suggest that some sort of deal is perhaps more likely than not.

Where do we stand one day out? Here’s a look at some of the significant recent reports and developments.

*The Ricky Rubio for Derrick Rose trade report first popped up Monday on ESPN, and it doesn’t seem to be losing much steam. David Aldridge reported Tuesday afternoon via Twitter, Wolves’ pursuit of Derrick Rose still very strong — “Thibs wants to do this,” says league source w/knowledge — but MIN absolutely keeping Dunn. The idea that this is more of a salary dump for the Wolves than a desire to acquire Rose — which was my guess when I wrote about the possible trade yesterday — is also gaining steam.

I thought Canis Hoopus had a salient tweet Tuesday about this whole notion of trading Rubio: For a guy he doesn’t seem to want to keep or like much as a player, Thibs has been amazingly reliant on Rubio throughout the season. The biggest fear in all of this is — regardless of whether you like or dislike Rubio as a player — is that Tom Thibodeau is stubbornly determined to have his guy (Kris Dunn) run the show when it’s far from clear that he can do it.

For all of Rubio’s weaknesses (which I’ve exhausted thousands of words chronicling) he has a great many strengths (which I’ve also exhausted thousands of words chronicling). There would also be a certain amount of sadness in seeing Rubio go — because he arrived with such promise that never quite went fulfilled either individually or with the team, and also because he’s one of those lovable local sports characters.

*For his part, though, maybe Rubio sees the writing on the wall? His midnight tweet (at least midnight here) last night read: “Never stress over what you can’t control.” And the most recent person he followed on Twitter is budding star Kristaps Porzingis — who of course plays for the Knicks, where Rubio is rumored to be traded. Porzingis already follows Rubio, so they could be having a tremendous direct message conversation right now.

Remember, too, that reports have surfaced in the past that Rubio wants to be traded — in addition, of course, to numerous trade rumors from the Wolves’ side. The clock as been ticking on this for a while; the drafting of Dunn added an alarm to it.

Rose had this to say when asked Tuesday about trade rumors: “I love it here, but it’s not up to me. It’s up to the front office. I don’t have a problem with the coaching staff. I don’t have a problem with my teammates. I love it here, like I said, but this is a business.”

*In non-Rubio trade news, some other Wolves names have surfaced. ESPN’s Marc Stein reported Tuesday evening that the Wizards have shown interest in Wolves’ sixth man Shabazz Muhammad. … The Wolves have also been linked to at least a “tepid interest” in the Bucks’ Tony Snell. You might remember he played for Thibodeau previously in Chicago. … This one is a few days old, but Iman Shumpert of the Cavs has also apparently piqued the Wolves’ interest in a potential deal.

We have another day of this to go. We’re going to make it.

Jerry Kill brings energy, message to another rebuilding project at Rutgers

jerrykillFans in Minnesota became well-versed in Jerry Kill’s health challenges, which ultimately caused him to step down as Gophers football coach in the middle of the 2015 season.

At the time of his departure from the Gophers, Kill acknowledged that his ongoing battle with epilepsy was at odds with the demands of being a Big Ten head coach. He walked away after an emotional, unforgettable news conference at TCF Bank Stadium.

But Kill continued to be a champion for epilepsy awareness. And now he’s bringing that message to New Jersey, where the former Gophers head coach believes he has found the proper balance between football and healthy lifestyle as the new offensive coordinator at Rutgers.

With spring football set to arrive sooner than we think, Kill was featured recently by the Asbury Park Press — where he was quoted extensively talking about his health and being part of another rebuilding project. Rutgers was 0-9 in the Big Ten last season and just 2-10 overall.

Kill, who reportedly has lost 25 pounds while on a special diet, said of his new job: “It’s night and day, what you deal with as a head coach and as a coordinator. (Being a head coach) is very hard. There are so many responsibilities, especially when you’re building a program.”

Still, his new role will require plenty of recruiting.

“I enjoy the recruiting part and a lot of people don’t,” Kill told the paper. “I think my years of experience help. I’ve been a head coach (and) I think there’s some credibility to that when you walk in a (recruit’s) house. They know who you are.”

There might not be a ton of new ground covered in the feature, but it is a good catch-up if you’re wondering how Kill is doing heading into his new project.

Garnett opens up about Wolves, departure from Saunders’ ‘dream and vision’

kgthibsIf you’ve had lingering questions since Kevin Garnett’s retirement in September — such as, why are the Wolves essentially paying him not to play this season? And wouldn’t there have been room on the roster for someone like him on a team full of young players? — KG comes as close as I believe he has come to tying up those loose ends in a recent interview with Kevin McHale.

In a roughly four-minute segment that you can view on NBA.com, Garnett talks about what happened in Minnesota the second time around. For those who forgot the play-by-play, Flip Saunders acquired Garnett in the middle of the 2014-15 season to serve essentially as a mentor for younger players at the end of his career. Saunders died Oct. 25, 2015 — right before the season began.

Sam Mitchell, a mentor to Garnett during his younger days, took over as interim coach and Garnett appeared in 38 games. Mitchell was let go in favor of Tom Thibodeau, who also has control of basketball operations. If the speculation was that Saunders and Thibodeau had different visions for the Wolves and Garnett’s role … well, that’s basically Garnett’s version of what happened.

Per KG from the interview:

“My great friend Flip came and brought an opportunity to me to come back to my origins where I had roots and where I was comfortable. … An exit plan. I believed it, and I accepted it and I went back to Minny. Without getting all deep into it, when (Saunders) left so did his dream and his vision. It’s just sad to see. Everybody in the organization didn’t see the same vision. And we parted ways.”

Garnett explained what he thought his role was in Minnesota.

“I wanted to give (Karl-Anthony Towns) everything I had. … I had him every day, we’d see each other. Same thing with (Andrew Wiggins). I would share myself and whatever I had to give with the guys. That’s really what I wanted to do. … I was curating a whole different type of atmosphere that had been lost in Minnesota. … I was more ‘like let’s do this for the city.’ But it wasn’t parallel. It was a business. So I chose to remove myself. … Certain things I was taught in this league — professionalism, loyalty. When those things start to leave the league, that’s what kind of person I am. I felt a certain way so I started taking steps to remove myself.”

Now: It’s entirely possible (even likely) that you would hear a different version of that story from the perspective of Thibodeau and others. Some of the core facts might be the same, but their notion of what Garnett was bringing to the organization had to have been different than what KG believed it was.

Whatever the case, you had a veteran player known for his defensive intensity who didn’t mesh with a coach who loves defense and who was a key assistant in Boston when KG won a ring. Whether it was about power, control, personalities, timing or some combination thereof, a loud career ended quietly.