Kevin McHale

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Posted by motoman 04/28/2009 @ 14:09

Tags : kevin mchale, basketball coaches, basketball, sports

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5 Critical Questions Facing The Timberwolves This Offseason - Bleacher Report
Here are the five most critical questions facing our beloved Woofies heading into this offseason: Will Kevin McHale be back on the bench next year as coach? Yes, THAT Kevin McHale. The man who almost singlehandedly (have to give Glen Taylor some credit...
A flagrant abuse of authority - Boston Globe
Try to imagine what would happen today if we had another play like Kevin mchale's body slam of Kurt Rambis in Game 4 of the 1984 NBA Finals. Even young fans probably know the play. It was the Clothesline-Hung-Round-the-World....
Gleeful new show offers hope, optimism and song - Canada.com
There's the geeky guitarist and constant bullying victim, played by Kevin McHale. There's the diva-in-training who refuses to sing backup, played by Amber Riley. And then there's the awkward girl with a stutter, played by Jenna Ushkowitz,...
NBA News: Bosh, Odom, McHale - So Hood
Toronto Star Kevin McHale has three-year offer to coach Wolves. An NBA source said former Celtics star Kevin McHale turned down a three-year offer to coach the Timberwolves after he was moved from his general manager position to coach Dec. 8....
Sources: Lindsey withdraws name - ESPN
Trying to import a head of basketball operations from San Antonio seemed a wise path for Wolves owner Glen Taylor to follow in his desire to find a new long-term successor on the personnel side to Kevin McHale. Front offices in Cleveland (Danny Ferry...
NBA taking all the fight out of the game - FOXSports.com
In the 1984 Finals, Kevin McHale famously mistook Kurt Rambis' Adam's apple for the ball and took him down by his throat as Rambis went up for a layup on the break. McHale was not ejected. McHale was not suspended. Rambis shot two free throws....
NBA Playoffs Diary: Lakers at Rockets - Wall Street Journal Blogs
Honestly, this is just weak-sauce defense by the Lakers. Scola is a skilled, underrated player who's asserting himself with the big guns out. But he looks like Kevin McHale right now the way he's abusing Odom and Gasol. On the plus side for Lakers fans...
Wolves zero in on former Pacers GM David Kahn for top front-office job - Pioneer Press
Uncertain is what effect a Kahn hire might have on the future of coach Kevin McHale and the front office. Unlike Lindsey, who reportedly wanted full control to make sweeping changes, Kahn is believed to be open to McHale returning, if that's what he...
Warriors Facing Leadership Quandary As NBA Draft Draws Near - SportsBusiness Daily (subscription)
Kahn is "believed to be open to" T'Wolves coach Kevin McHale returning, if that's what McHale "wants to do." Seeholzer notes there also "could be a place in a Kahn-led front office for" Assistant GM Fred Hoiberg, who has "spent the past three years...
Charley Walters: Xxxxxxxx - Pioneer Press
Latest buzz is that the Timberwolves could offer a combination general manager position to internal assistant GM Fred Hoiberg and ex-Indiana Pacers GM David Kahn, with the understanding that they retain Kevin mchale as coach....

Kevin McHale

Kevin Edward McHale (born December 19, 1957) is a retired American professional basketball player who starred for thirteen seasons in the NBA for the Boston Celtics. He is currently on his second stint as head coach of the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves.

Kevin McHale was born to a part-Irish American father, Paul Austin McHale, and a Croatian-American mother, Josephine Patricia Starcevich, in Hibbing, Minnesota. In his senior season at Hibbing High School McHale was named Minnesota's Mr. Basketball of 1976 and led his squad to a runner-up finish in the AA Minnesota State Championship game.

In 1992, McHale was elected to the Minnesota State High School League Hall of Fame.

The 6 ft 10 in (209 cm) McHale played basketball at the power forward position for the University of Minnesota from 1976 to 1980, with career averages of 15.2 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.

He was named All-Big Ten in 1979 and 1980 and still ranks second in school history in career points (1704) and rebounds (950).

In 1995, to coincide with the University of Minnesota's 100th anniversary, he was selected as top player in the history of University of Minnesota men's basketball.

Heading into the 1980 NBA Draft the Celtics held the number one overall pick. But in a shrewd pre-draft trade, considered by some to be among the most lopsided in NBA history, Boston Celtics President Red Auerbach dealt the top pick and an additional first-round pick to the Golden State Warriors for Warriors center Robert Parish and the Warriors' first-round pick, the third overall. With that pick the Celtics chose McHale.

McHale's stay in Boston got off to a rocky start as he held out for a large contract, even threatening to play in Italy, before signing a three-year deal with the Celtics. Backing up Bird and Cedric "Cornbread" Maxwell at forward, McHale made an immediate impact and was named to the NBA's All-Rookie First Team in his rookie season. Boston finished with the NBA's best record that year.

In the playoffs the Celtics swept the Chicago Bulls in the first round. In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics faced a 3–1 deficit against the Philadelphia 76ers. But Boston won the last three games of the series, including Game 6 on Philadelphia's home court. McHale helped save the Game 6 win by blocking Andrew Toney's shot and corralling the rebound with 16 seconds left to protect the Celtics' one-point lead. In the NBA Finals, Boston defeated the Houston Rockets in six games to capture the club's fourteenth championship.

The Celtics failed to advance to the NBA Finals the next two seasons. Philadelphia exacted a measure of revenge in the 1982 Eastern Conference Final, beating Boston at its home arena, the Boston Garden, in a seventh game. In the 1983 Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Celtics were swept by the Milwaukee Bucks, leading to the firing of head coach Bill Fitch.

Following the 1982-83 season McHale's contract with the Celtics expired, and the New York Knicks signed him to a contract offer sheet. Auerbach retaliated by signing three of New York's top free agent players to offer sheets. The Knicks elected to re-sign their players and give up their pursuit of McHale. McHale eventually re-signed with Boston, his $1 million per season contract making him the fourth-highest paid player in the NBA.

McHale won the first of his consecutive NBA Sixth Man Awards as Boston won a league-best 62 games in the 1983–84 season. Led by a new head coach, former Celtic K.C. Jones, Boston was also bolstered by the acquisition of point guard Dennis Johnson from the Phoenix Suns.

After surviving a tough seven-game semifinal battle with the Knicks, the Celtics avenged the previous season's playoff loss to Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference Finals. Boston would face the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals in a highly-anticipated matchup.

In Game 4 of the finals, with the Celtics trailing in both the game and the series, McHale delivered a hard foul to Kurt Rambis, violently flinging him down by his throat, as the Lakers' forward raced to the basket. The physical play touched off a bench-clearing scuffle. Boston came back to win the game in overtime and tie the series at two games apiece. They eventually prevailed in seven games to win the franchise's fifteenth championship.

McHale continued to come off the bench during first half of the 1984–1985 season, but moved into a starting role in February 1985 after Cedric Maxwell injured a knee. On March 3 versus the Detroit Pistons McHale had his greatest scoring night, setting the Celtics' single-game scoring record with 56 points. Two nights later McHale scored 42 points against the Knicks, the only other time in his career he topped 40 points in a game. The 98 points in consecutive games is still a Celtics' record. On March 12, just nine days after McHale scored 56, Larry Bird established a new Celtics' single-game scoring mark by pouring in 60 points versus the Atlanta Hawks.

Boston captured its second straight Eastern Conference title but was upended in the NBA Finals in six games by the rival Lakers. McHale led the Celtics in scoring (26.0) and rebounding (10.7) versus the Lakers, including a 32-point, 16-rebound performance in the decisive sixth game.

The 1985–1986 edition of the Boston Celtics won the franchise's sixteenth NBA Championship and is considered one of the greatest teams in NBA history.

The Celtics acquired former NBA Most Valuable Player Bill Walton in a trade from the Los Angeles Clippers in September 1985, and added the 6 ft 11 in (211 cm) center to its already-formidable frontline. Boston sent Cedric Maxwell to the Clippers to complete the trade, clearing the way for McHale to move into a full time starting role. McHale averaged better than 20-points per game for the first time in his career (21.3) and finished thirteenth in the NBA Most Valuable Player voting.

He joined starters Larry Bird, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson and Danny Ainge as the Celtics steamrolled the NBA with a league-best 67–15 record. The team set a then-NBA record by finishing with an 82–18 win-loss record (including playoffs), breaking the record of 81 victories by the 1971–72 Lakers.

Boston won 41 of its first 50 games, including two victories over the Lakers. In a rout of the Clippers on December 30, 1985, McHale set his single-game high in rebounds with 18 (a mark he tied versus the Pistons in 1989).

An extremely durable player through the first five seasons of his career, McHale missed 14 games in early 1986 due to an injured Achilles tendon in his left ankle, but he was healthy when the playoffs began. Boston rolled through the Eastern Conference, winning 11 of 12 games versus Chicago, Atlanta and Milwaukee.

For the second time in five years the Celtics faced Houston in the NBA Finals, and the result was the same as in 1981, as Boston won the title in six games. McHale averaged 25.8 points per game in the finals to lead all scorers.

By his seventh pro season, McHale had rehearsed and refined his low-post moves and had become one of the NBA's most dominant offensive forces, out-leaping, out-spinning and out-maneuvering defender after defender in his "torture chamber". McHale was never better than the 1986–1987 season, setting career highs in scoring (26.1) and rebounding (9.9). He also became the first player in NBA history to shoot sixty percent or better from the field (60.4%) and eighty percent or better from the free throw line (83.6%) in the same season. McHale was named to the All-NBA First Team, was named the NBA's best defensive player by the league's coaches, and finished fourth in the Most Valuable Player voting behind Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Bird.

In nine games from February 23, 1987, through March 13, McHale played arguably the best stretch of basketball in his career. He averaged 30.7 points and 10 rebounds per game while shooting a staggering 71.7 percent from the floor. During this stretch McHale scored his season-high in points, 38 versus the Pistons on March 1.

In a win at Chicago on March 27, McHale broke the navicular bone in his right foot. He ignored doctors' advice that the injury could be career-threatening and continued to play. In the playoffs a hobbled McHale averaged 39 minutes per game and connected on 58 percent of his shots as Boston once again won the Eastern Conference title. Boston swept the Bulls in the first round for the second straight year and survived two seven-game series with the Bucks and Pistons. A tired and hurting Celtics team could not defend its championship, losing to the Lakers in six games in the NBA Finals.

Off-season surgery on his injured right foot and ankle forced McHale to sit out the first month of the 1987–1988 season. He scored 22 points in 22 minutes of play in his return to the Celtics on December 1, 1987, versus Atlanta.

Teammate Danny Ainge once called McHale "The Black Hole", joking that when the basketball was passed inside to McHale it disappeared because he rarely passed it back. But in a win over the Dallas Mavericks on April 3, 1988, McHale played the role of passer, distributing 10 assists—the only time in his career he reached double figures in a game.

The Celtics won 57 games and made their fifth straight appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals. McHale shot 60 percent from the field and averaged a career playoff-high 25.4 points per game as Boston defeated the Knicks in four games and the Hawks in a thrilling seven-game semi-final series. The Detroit Pistons were too strong for the Celtics this time around and defeated Boston in six games in the conference final. Head coach K. C. Jones retired at the end of the season, and the Celtics of the Bird-McHale-Parish era would never again advance past the conference semi-finals.

Injuries limited Larry Bird to just six games in 1988–89 and the Celtics slipped to 42-40. New head coach Jimmy Rodgers coaxed the team into the playoffs as the Eastern Conference's eighth and final seed behind the play of McHale and Parish and second-year guard Reggie Lewis.

The Celtics faced the Pistons in the playoffs for the third straight year. Detroit bottled up McHale this time around, holding him to 19 points per game and less than 50 percent shooting from the field. The Pistons easily swept the Celtics en route to their first NBA Championship.

The 1989–90 season marked the last time McHale was healthy enough to play in all 82 regular season games for the Celtics, but the season was one of discontent for Boston. Second-year point guard Brian Shaw left the team to play in Europe after a salary dispute, and Larry Bird—back from his injuries—was criticized by teammates, including McHale, for taking too many shots and trying to dominate games on his own.

Rodgers moved McHale back into his old "sixth man" role for the majority of the regular season; McHale's scoring dipped into the teens coming off the bench. With 23 games to play and Boston just nine games above .500, Rodgers decided to put McHale back into the starting lineup. McHale averaged 24.2 points and 9 rebounds down the stretch as the Celtics went 18-5 and finished just a game behind Philadelphia in the Atlantic Division.

McHale became the first player in twenty years to finish in the NBA's top ten in field goal percentage (seventh) and free throw percentage (fifth) in the same season.

Boston took the first two games of its first-round playoff series with the Knicks, including a record-setting 157–128 blowout in Game 2. In a shocking reversal the Knicks fought back and won the last three games of the series, bouncing the stunned Celtics from the playoffs. Head coach Jimmy Rodgers was fired following the playoff disappointment.

McHale contemplated retirement in the off-season after having another surgery performed on his balky right ankle, but he came back for the 1990–91 season. Boston paired young backcourt players Lewis, Dee Brown, Kevin Gamble and Brian Shaw—back from his year in Europe—with Bird, McHale and Parish and hired Chris Ford, a longtime assistant coach and member of the Celtics' 1981 championship team, to be its head coach.

The season got off to a promising start as Boston sprinted to a 29–5 record, but the Celtics were soon slowed by injuries to McHale (ankle) and Bird (back). McHale missed 14 regular season games and Bird 22, as the Celtics limped to a 27–21 record over the last three months of the season. Boston defeated the Indiana Pacers in five games in a hotly-contested first round playoff matchup, but for the third time in four years the Celtics were eliminated by Detroit, this time in a six-game semi-final series.

McHale played in a career-low 56 games and Bird played in just 45, as each suffered through an injury-plagued 1991–92 season. Boston struggled for most of the regular season but got hot as the playoffs approached, winning 15 of its last 16 games and finishing with 51 wins, the third-most in the Eastern Conference.

The Celtics swept the Pacers in the first round, but were defeated in seven games in the conference semi-finals by the younger, quicker Cleveland Cavaliers. Bird retired from the NBA three months later.

The 1992–1993 season was McHale's last in the NBA. McHale played in 71 games, but he was severely hampered by leg and back injuries. He averaged just 10.7 points per game and shot less than 50 percent from the floor (45.9%) for the only time in his career.

In the first round of the NBA playoffs against the Charlotte Hornets the Celtics were stunned by the loss of Lewis, their leading scorer. He collapsed on the court during Game 1 and was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal heart condition. McHale performed brilliantly in the series. He averaged 19.6 points per game and shot 58 percent from the field—including 30 points and 10 rebounds in Game 2—but Boston fell to the Hornets in four games.

McHale announced his retirement while talking with reporters at the scorer's table after the Game 4 loss in Charlotte.

McHale was a part of what is widely considered the league's best-ever frontline with small forward Larry Bird and center Robert Parish. The trio of Hall of Famers became known as the "Big Three" and led the Celtics to five NBA Finals appearances and three NBA Championships, in 1981, 1984 and 1986. For the first five years of his career McHale primarily came off the bench for the Celtics, winning the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award in 1984 and 1985.

Possessing a wide variety of offensive moves close to the basket the agile, long-armed McHale played in seven National Basketball Association All-Star Games between 1984 and 1991. McHale's finest season came in 1986-87 when he was named to the All-NBA First Team as a forward. He led the NBA in field goal percentage in 1987 and 1988, shooting 60.4 percent each season. Also a standout defensive player, McHale was selected to the NBA All-Defensive First or Second Team six times. He twice blocked nine shots in a game, the most ever by a Boston Celtics' player (blocked shots did not become an official NBA statistic until the 1974 season). Charles Barkley has said that, in his prime, McHale was the toughest defensive assignment in the league for a power forward.

In 971 regular season games McHale averaged 17.9 points and 7.3 rebounds and in 169 post-season games averaged 18.8 points and 7.4 rebounds.

At the end of the 2007-2008 season McHale ranked tenth in NBA history in career field goal percentage (55.4%), and he is among the Celtics' career leaders in several categories, including games played, points scored and rebounding.

McHale's number 32 jersey was retired by the Celtics on January 30, 1994, during a halftime ceremony at the Boston Garden .

He was chosen one of the NBA's fifty greatest players and was named to the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996.

McHale was elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999.

Upon his retirement as an NBA player, McHale joined the Minnesota Timberwolves as a television analyst and special assistant. In the summer of 1994, new Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor promoted him to Assistant General Manager. He continued to broadcast Timberwolves games and work as an executive until 1995, when he succeeded Jack McCloskey as Vice President of Basketball Operations, where one of his first moves was to hire former University of Minnesota teammate Flip Saunders as head coach of the Timberwolves.

The next season McHale made the decision to draft high school phenom forward Kevin Garnett with the fifth overall pick of the 1995 NBA Draft. Though Garnett developed into one of the NBA's best players, the Timberwolves advanced past the first round of the Western Conference playoffs only once in Garnett's twelve seasons with the team.

It was also during McHale's reign that the Timberwolves were punished by the NBA for making a secret deal with free agent forward Joe Smith to circumvent the league's salary cap rules. Before the 1998-1999 season, Smith agreed in secret to sign three one-year contracts with the Timberwolves for less than his market value. In return, Smith received a promise that the Timberwolves would give him a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract before the 2001-2002 season.

In 2000, after word of the secret agreement got out, NBA commissioner David Stern voided Smith's final one-year contract with the Timberwolves, making Smith a free agent. Stern also took away three of the Timberwolves' next five first-round draft picks and fined the team $3.5 million. Smith signed with Detroit for one season, but came back to Minnesota before the 2001-2002 season as a free agent.

On February 12, 2005, the Timberwolves fired Saunders and McHale took on head coaching duties for the remainder of the 2004-2005 season. He compiled a 19-12 record but had no interest in continuing as head coach. Dwane Casey was hired as the new head coach in the off-season of 2005.

With Minnesota sitting at .500 midway through the 2006-2007 season, McHale fired Casey on January 23, 2007. Timberwolves' assistant coach Randy Wittman was tabbed to take over for Casey. Despite missing the playoffs, on April 19, 2007, the Timberwolves announced that McHale would return for the 2007-2008 season, as would Wittman.

Prior to the 2007 NBA Draft McHale reportedly tried to work out a trade with Celtics General Manager and former teammate Danny Ainge that would have sent Kevin Garnett to Boston for a draft pick and players. Garnett's agent told the Timberwolves and the Celtics that his client had no interest in playing for Boston, and the potential trade was scuttled. In late July 2007, Minnesota and Boston once again tried to consummate a deal for Garnett. Garnett eased his stance on being traded to Boston; on July 31 he was sent to the Celtics for five players and two first-round draft picks. Garnett finished third in the MVP balloting and was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in leading Boston to the NBA Championship over the Lakers.

On December 8, 2008, the Timberwolves fired Wittman. He had compiled a 38-105 record since taking over for Casey. The Timberwolves announced that McHale would step down as VP of Basketball Operations and once again take over the head coaching job, this time more permanently; the Timberwolves' owner Glen Taylor has indicated that he is not seeking to replace McHale as head coach.

McHale is one of six members of the 1985-1986 Celtics' championship team to serve as an NBA head coach (Larry Bird, Danny Ainge, Dennis Johnson, Sam Vincent and Rick Carlisle are the others).

McHale now resides in North Oaks, MN with his wife Lynn, along with their five children, Kristyn, Michael, Joseph, Alexandra.

McHale twice made guest appearances on the television sitcom Cheers (1990 and 1991). McHale's fans in Boston dubbed themselves "McHale's Army", a takeoff on the title of the 1960s sitcom McHale's Navy.

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Larry Bird

Larrybird.jpg

Larry Joe Bird (born December 7, 1956) is a retired American NBA basketball player, who coach Red Auerbach considered to be the greatest basketball player of all time. He was Drafted into the NBA sixth overall by the Boston Celtics in 1978, Bird started at small forward and power forward for thirteen seasons, teaming with legendary center Robert Parish and forward Kevin McHale. Due to back problems, he retired as a player from the NBA in 1992. Bird was voted to the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996 and inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998. He served as head coach of the Indiana Pacers from 1997 to 2000. In 2003, he assumed the role of president of basketball operations for the Pacers, which he currently still holds.

Larry Bird was born in West Baden, Indiana, the son of Georgia Kerns and Claude Joseph "Joe" Bird. He grew up in both West Baden and the adjacent town French Lick, which earned him the nickname "the Hick from French Lick" in his later basketball career. Financial troubles would plague the Bird family for most of Larry's childhood. In a 1988 interview with Sports Illustrated, Bird recalled how his mother would make do on the family's meager earnings: "If there was a payment to the bank due, and we needed shoes, she'd get the shoes, and then deal with them guys at the bank. I don't mean she wouldn't pay the bank, but the children always came first." Bird sometimes was sent to live with his grandmother due to the family's struggles. Bird told Sports Illustrated that being poor as a child "motivates me to this day".

The Bird family's struggle with poverty was compounded by the alcoholism and personal difficulties of Joe Bird. In 1975, after Bird's parents divorced, his father committed suicide.

In spite of his domestic woes, by the time he was a high school sophomore, Bird had become one of the better basketball players in French Lick. He started for French Lick/West Baden's high school team, Springs Valley High School, where he left as the school's all-time scoring leader. Bird's high school coach, Jim Jones, was a key factor to Bird's success. "Jonesie", as Bird called him, would come help Bird and his friends practice any day of the week. Bird would always be in the gym early, shoot in between classes, and then stay late into the evening. He quit both football and baseball to focus on the sport he loved, basketball.

Bird received a basketball scholarship to Indiana University in 1974. However, he was overwhelmed by the size of the campus and number of students and, as he would later admit in his biographies, wasn't mentally ready for this stage of life. Bird was also treated poorly by an established IU star, Kent Benson; as Bird recalled, the other upperclassmen of the team treated him well. He dropped out of Indiana and went home to French Lick where he enrolled in the nearby Northwood Institute before dropping out and getting a job with the Street Department (the department did pick up garbage once a week, but also repaired roads, removed snow, mowed lawns, etc.) for a year. He played AAU basketball for Hancock Construction and, after that year, decided to enroll at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, where he was coached by Bob King.

King suffered a stroke prior to the 1978–79 season and assistant Bill Hodges was promoted to head coach. Hodges had been scouting Bird and really wanted him to play for ISU. Bird led the Sycamores to the NCAA championship game in 1979, his senior season, only to lose to the Michigan State University Spartans, who were led by his future NBA rival, Earvin "Magic" Johnson. The Sycamores finished the season 33–1. That year, Bird won the USBWA College Player of the Year, Naismith and Wooden Awards, given to the year's top male college basketball player. After his three seasons at Indiana State, he left as the fifth-highest scorer in NCAA history. Bird finished his collegiate career with an average of 30.3 points per game. He is on the Missouri Valley Conference All-Century Team.

The Boston Celtics selected the 6'9", 220-pound Bird 6th overall in the 1978 NBA Draft, even though they were uncertain whether he would enter the NBA or remain at Indiana State to play his senior season. Bird ultimately decided to play his final college season, but the Celtics retained their exclusive right to sign him until the 1979 NBA Draft, because of the NBA's "junior eligible" rule that existed at that time (allowing a collegiate player to be drafted when the player's original "entering" class was graduating and giving them one calendar year to sign them, even if they went back to college). Shortly before that deadline, Bird agreed to sign with the Celtics for a US $650,000 a year contract, making him at the time the highest-paid rookie in the history of the NBA. Shortly afterwards, the NBA draft eligibility rules were changed to prevent teams from drafting players before they were ready to sign. The rule is called the Bird Collegiate Rule.

Larry Bird's impact on the Celtics was immediate. The Celtics were 29–53 during the 1978–79 season, but with Bird the team improved to 61–21 in the 1979–80 season, posting the league's best regular season record. Bird's collegiate rival, Magic Johnson, also had entered the NBA in 1979, joining the Los Angeles Lakers. In 1980, despite a strong rookie season from Johnson, Bird was named the league's Rookie of the Year and was voted onto the Eastern Conference All-Star team (an honor he would receive for each of his 12 full seasons in the NBA). For the 1980 season, Bird led the Celtics in scoring (21.3 points/game), rebounding (10.4 rebounds/game), steals (143), and minutes played (2,955) and was second in assists (4.5 assists/game) and three-pointers (58). Though Boston was beaten by the more athletic Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference finals that year, Bird's addition to the team had renewed the promise of Celtic glory.

Following Bird's first season, the Celtics acquired center Robert Parish and the 3rd pick in the 1980 NBA Draft via a trade with the Golden State Warriors (in exchange for the 1st and 13th picks in the draft). After the Warriors took Joe Barry Carroll with the 1st pick and the Utah Jazz chose Darrell Griffith second, the Celtics selected University of Minnesota power forward Kevin McHale. With Bird at small forward, the additions of Parish and McHale gave Boston one of the most formidable frontcourts in the history of the NBA. The three would anchor the Celtics throughout Bird's career.

In his second season, Bird led the Celtics into the playoffs, where they faced off for a second consecutive year with Julius Erving's Philadelphia 76ers. Bird helped the Celtics overcome a 3–1 deficit by winning the last 3 games by 2, 2, and 1 point margins, propelling them into the NBA Finals, where they defeated the Houston Rockets in six games with Bird averaging 15.3 points on .419 shooting, 15.3 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game. It would be the first of three championships in Bird's career, as well as the first of his five Finals appearances.

The additions of Bird and Johnson rejuvenated the NBA, which had suffered from low attendance and minimal television interest through much of the 1970s. Immediately upon their entry into the league, the two players became repeating presences in the NBA Finals. Johnson's Lakers won the championship in 1980, Bird's Celtics captured the NBA title in 1981, and Johnson's Lakers wrested it back in 1982. Bird and Johnson first dueled in the 1979 NCAA title game; as professional basketball players, they would face off numerous times during the 1980s, including the NBA Finals of 1984, 1985 and 1987. Lakers versus Celtics, and specifically Bird versus Magic, quickly became one of the greatest rivalries in the history of professional sports.

In 1984, the Celtics defeated the Lakers in a seven-game Finals, winning game seven 111–102. Bird averaged 27.4 points on .484 shooting and 14 rebounds a game during the series, earning the award of Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP). Bird was also named the league regular season MVP for that year. In 1985, however, the Lakers avenged the loss, defeating the Celtics in game 6 of the Finals in the Boston Garden. In a losing effort against Los Angeles, Bird averaged 23.8 points on .449 shooting, 8.8 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game. That year, the NBA again named Bird the league MVP.

Boston would have another great season the next year, with help from another Hall of Famer, Bill Walton. Walton had been refused by the Lakers, and as a last chance, called Celtics president and general manager Red Auerbach. Auerbach was initially unwilling to take a risk on Walton, who had been plagued for years by foot injuries. But Bird, who happened to be in Auerbach's office at the time of Walton's call, urged him to sign Walton, saying that if Walton felt he was healthy enough to play, it was all Bird needed to hear.

With Walton backing up Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, the Celtics would return to the finals in 1986, albeit not against Johnson and the Lakers, who lost in the Western Conference Finals to the Houston Rockets. The 1986 Celtic team, which finished the regular season 67–15 and defeated the Rockets in six games, is generally considered to be the best of Bird's career. Bird again was named the Finals' MVP for that year, averaging 24 points on .482 shooting, 9.7 rebounds and 9.5 assists per game for the series. He also won his third consecutive league MVP award, a feat matched only by the great Celtic center Bill Russell and the dominant Wilt Chamberlain, who played for Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

In 1987, the Celtics made their last Finals appearance of Bird's career, fighting through difficult series against the Milwaukee Bucks and Detroit Pistons but as they reached the NBA Finals, the Celtics, plagued by devastating injuries, lost to a dominant Lakers team which had won 65 games during the season. The Celtics ended up losing to the Lakers in six games, with Bird averaging 24.2 points on .445 shooting, 10 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game in the championship series. The Celtics would fall short in 1988 losing to the Pistons in 6 games in the Eastern Conference Finals as the Pistons made up from the heartbreak the previous season. Between them, Bird and Johnson captured eight NBA championships during the 1980s, with Magic getting five and Bird three. During the 1980s, either Boston or Los Angeles appeared in every NBA Finals.

Throughout the 1980s, contests between the Celtics and the Lakers—both during the regular season and in the Finals—attracted enormous television audiences. The first regular season game between the Celtics and the Lakers in the 1987-88 season proved to be a classic with Magic Johnson banking in an off balance shot from near the 3-point line at the buzzer for a 115-114 Lakers win at Boston Garden. The historical rift between the teams, which faced each other several times in championship series of the 1960s, fueled fan interest in the rivalry. Not since Russell squared off against Chamberlain had professional basketball enjoyed such a marquee matchup. The apparent contrast between the two players and their respective teams seemed scripted for television: Bird, the introverted small-town hero with the blue-collar work ethic, fitted perfectly with the throwback, hard-nosed style of the Celtics, while the stylish, gregarious Johnson ran the Lakers' fast-paced "Showtime" offense amidst the bright lights and celebrities of Los Angeles. A 1986 Converse commercial for its "Weapon" line of basketball shoes (endorsed by both Bird and Johnson) reflected the perceived dichotomy between the two players. In the commercial, Bird is practicing alone on a rural basketball court when Johnson pulls up in a sleek limousine and challenges him to a one-on-one match.

In 1988, Bird had the best statistical season of his career, but the Celtics failed to reach the NBA Finals for the first time in four years, losing to the Pistons in six games during the Eastern Conference Finals. Bird started the 1988–89 season with Boston, but ended his season after six games to have bone spurs surgically removed from both of his heels. He returned to the Celtics in 1989, but debilitating back problems and an aging Celtic roster prevented him from regaining his mid-1980s form. Nonetheless, through the final years of his career, Bird maintained his status as one of the premier players in the game. He averaged over 20 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists a game in his last three seasons with the Celtics, and shot better than 45% from the field in each. Bird led the Celtics to playoff appearances in each of those three seasons.

Bird's body, however, continued to break down. He had been bothered by back problems for years, and his back became progressively worse. After leading the Celtics to a 29-5 start to the 1990-91 season, he missed 22 games due to a compressed nerve root in his back, a condition that would eventually lead to his retirement. He had off-season surgery to remove a disc from his back, but his back problems continued and he missed 37 games during the 1991–92 season. During the 1992 Eastern Conference semi-finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers Bird missed 4 of 7 games in the series due to his back problems.

In the summer of 1992, Bird joined Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and other NBA stars to play for the United States basketball team in that year's Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. It was the first time in America's Olympic history that the country sent professional basketball players to compete. The "Dream Team" won the men's basketball gold medal.

Following his Olympic experience, on August 18, 1992, Bird announced his retirement as an NBA player. He finished his career with averages of more than 24 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists per game, while shooting 49.6% from the field, 88.6% from the free throw line and 37.6% from three-point range. Following Bird's departure, the Celtics promptly retired his jersey number 33.

In 1989, Bird published his autobiography, Drive: The Story of My Life with Bob Ryan. The book chronicles his life and career up to the 1989 NBA season.

The Celtics employed Bird as a special assistant in the team's front office from 1992 until 1997. In 1997, Bird accepted the position of coach of the Indiana Pacers. Despite having no previous coaching experience, Bird led the Pacers to an Eastern Conference championship in 2000 and two Eastern Conference runner-up finishes the previous two seasons. He was named the NBA Coach of the Year for the 1998 season. He is the only person in NBA history to have won both the MVP and Coach of the Year awards.

Bird resigned as Pacers coach shortly after the end of the 2000 season. In 2003, he returned as the Pacers' President of Basketball Operations, where he oversees team personnel and coaching moves, as well as the team's draft selections.

Bird's humble roots led to his most frequently used moniker, "The Hick From French Lick". Other observers called him "The Great White Hope". In 1999, Bird ranked #30 in ESPN's SportsCentury's 50 Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century.

For the 2008 NBA Finals, which featured a rematch of the Celtics-Lakers rivalry, Bird appeared in a split-screen advertisement with Magic Johnson (as part of the "There Can Only Be One" campaign which had played throughout the 2008 NBA Playoffs but to that point only featured players from the two teams competing in a given series) discussing the meaning of rivalries.

Bird was widely considered one of Red Auerbach's favorite players. Auerbach was so enamored with the player that he drafted him out of Indiana State and waited a year before Bird was eligible to suit up for the Celtics. During his introductory press conference, after Auerbach's contemptuous negotiations with agent Bob Woolf, Bird announced he "would have played for free." This was after Woolf asked for the most lucrative contract in NBA history, to which Auerbach was quick to point out that Bird hadn't played a game in the NBA yet.

Bird, a versatile wing man who played the power forward and small forward positions, is considered as one of the greatest players of all time, to which his twelve All-Star team nominations are a testament. The versatile, sharpshooting Bird made his name stepping up his performance in critical situations, and is credited with a long list of dominating games, buzzer beaters and clutch defensive plays. He won two NBA Finals MVP and three regular-season MVP awards. He won them all in a row, a feat only shared by Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain.

Bird possessed an uncanny and unparalleled ability to anticipate and react to the strategies of his opponents. His talent for recognizing the moves of opponents and teammates prompted his first coach with the Celtics, Bill Fitch, to nickname him "Kodak", because he seemed to formulate mental pictures of every play that took place on the court.

Bird scored 24.3 points per game in his career on a high .496 field goal average, a stellar .886 free throw average (9th best all-time) and a 37.6 percentage on 3-point shots. Bird was also a good rebounder (10.0 rebound career average) and an excellent playmaker (6.3 assist career average). His multidimensional game made him a consistent triple-double threat; Bird currently ranks fifth all-time in triple-doubles with 59, not including the 10 he recorded in the playoffs. Bird's lifetime player efficiency rating (PER) is 23.5, 16th all-time, a further testament to his all around game. Bird's high free throw percentage is due in no small part to the fact that when he was a boy, he used to shoot 200 free throws before school, every day, according to a late 1990s Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance commercial with Larry himself.

Bird is also remembered as an excellent defender. While he was neither fast or quick-footed, and could not always shut down an individual player one-on-one, he consistently displayed a knack for anticipating the moves of his opponent, allowing him to intercept passes and create turnovers. His 1,556 career steals ranks 27th all-time. Unspectacular but effective defensive moves, such as jumping into a passing lane to make a steal or allowing his man to step past and drive to the hoop, then blocking the opponent's shot from behind, were staples of Bird's defensive game. In recognition of his defensive abilities, Bird was named to three All-Defensive Second Teams.

Prior to attending Indiana State University, Bird married his high-school girlfriend, Janet Condra. The marriage lasted only 11 months, but produced a daughter, Corrie, born on August 14, 1977.

In 1998, Corrie Bird appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and revealed that she was Bird's daughter from his first marriage though Larry had denied paternity until the mid '80s. She discussed her longing to connect with her father, whom she had not seen in 17 years. Corrie's story was also shown on 20/20 and was run as an article in the September 4, 1998 issue of Sports Illustrated. Corrie, like her father, played basketball in high school and attended Indiana State University, graduating with a degree in elementary education.

On October 31, 1989, Bird married Dinah Mattingly. The couple has two adopted children, son Connor and daughter Mariah.

Bird is remembered as one of the foremost clutch performers in the history of the NBA. Few players have performed as brilliantly in critical moments of games.

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Magic Johnson

Earvin "Magic" Johnson on '07.jpg

Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Jr. (born August 14, 1959) is a retired American professional basketball player who was a point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). After winning championships in high school and college, Johnson was selected first overall in the 1979 NBA Draft by the Lakers. He won a championship and an NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award in his rookie season, and won four more championships with the Lakers during the 1980s. Johnson retired abruptly in 1991 after announcing that he had HIV, but returned to play in the 1992 All-Star Game, winning the All-Star MVP Award. After protests from his fellow players, he retired again for four years, but returned in 1996 to play 32 games for the Lakers before retiring for the third and final time.

Johnson's career achievements include three NBA MVP Awards, nine NBA Finals appearances, twelve All-Star games, and ten All-NBA First and Second Team nominations. He led the league in regular-season assists four times, and is the NBA's all-time leader in assists per game with an average of 11.2. Johnson was also a member of the "Dream Team", the U.S. basketball team that won the Olympic gold medal in 1992.

Johnson was honored as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996, and enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002. He was rated the greatest NBA point guard of all time by ESPN in 2007. His friendship and rivalry with Boston Celtics star Larry Bird, whom he faced in the 1979 NCAA finals and three NBA championship series, were well documented. Since his retirement, Johnson has been an advocate for HIV/AIDS prevention and safe sex, as well as a philanthropist.

Earvin Johnson Jr. was the sixth of ten children born to Earvin Sr., a General Motors assembly worker, and Christine, a school custodian. Johnson grew up in Lansing, Michigan, and came to love basketball as a youngster, idolizing players such as Earl Monroe and Marques Haynes, and practicing "all day".

Johnson was first dubbed "Magic" as a 15-year-old sophomore playing for Lansing's Everett High School, when he recorded a triple-double of 36 points, 18 rebounds and 16 assists. After the game, Fred Stabley Jr., a sports writer for the Lansing State Journal, gave him the moniker despite the belief of Johnson's mother, a Christian, that the name was sacrilegious. In his final high school season, Johnson led Lansing Everett to a 27–1 win–loss record while averaging 28.8 points and 16.8 rebounds per game, and took his team to an overtime victory in the state championship game.

Although Johnson was recruited by several top-ranked colleges such as Indiana and UCLA, he decided to play close to home. He initially wanted to attend the University of Michigan, but decided on Michigan State University in East Lansing, after the school's basketball coach, Jud Heathcote, promised that Johnson could play the point guard position.

Johnson did not initially aspire to play professionally, focusing instead on his communication studies major and on his desire to become a television commentator. Playing with future NBA players Greg Kelser and Jay Vincent, Johnson averaged 17.0 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per game as a freshman, and led the Spartans to a 25–5 record, the Big Ten Conference title, and a berth in the 1978 NCAA Tournament. The Spartans reached the Elite Eight, but lost narrowly to eventual national champion Kentucky.

During the 1978–79 season, Michigan State again qualified for the NCAA Tournament, where they advanced to the championship game and faced Indiana State University, which was led by senior Larry Bird. In what was the most-watched college basketball game ever, Michigan State defeated Indiana State 75–64, and Johnson was voted Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. After two years in college, during which he averaged 17.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 7.9 assists per game, Johnson declared himself eligible for the 1979 NBA Draft.

Johnson was drafted first overall in 1979 by the Los Angeles Lakers. Johnson said that what was "most amazing" about joining the Lakers was the chance to play alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the team's 7 ft 2 in (2.18 m) center who became the leading scorer in NBA history. Despite Abdul-Jabbar's dominance, he had failed to win a championship with the Lakers, and Johnson was expected to help them achieve that goal. Johnson averaged 18.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 7.3 assists per game for the season, was selected to the NBA All-Rookie Team, and was named an NBA All-Star Game starter. The NBA Rookie of the Year Award went to his rival Bird, who had been drafted by the Boston Celtics.

The Lakers compiled a 60–22 record in the regular season and reached the 1980 NBA Finals, in which they faced the Philadelphia 76ers, who were led by forward Julius Erving. The Lakers took a 3–2 lead in the series, but Abdul-Jabbar, who averaged 33 points a game in the series, sprained his ankle in Game 5 and could not play in Game 6. Paul Westhead decided to start Johnson at center in Game 6; Johnson recorded 42 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, and three steals in a 123–107 win, while playing guard, forward, and center at different times during the game. Johnson became the only rookie to win the NBA Finals MVP award, and his clutch performance is still regarded as one of the finest in the NBA. He also became one of four players to win NCAA and NBA championships in consecutive years.

Early in the 1980–81 season, Johnson was sidelined after he suffered torn cartilage in his left knee. He missed 45 games, and said that during his rehabilitation he was the "most down" he had ever been. Johnson returned before the start of the 1981 playoffs, but the Lakers' then-assistant and future head coach Pat Riley later said that Johnson's much-anticipated return made the Lakers a "divided team". The Lakers faced the 40–42 Houston Rockets in the first round of playoffs, where Houston upset the Lakers 2–1 after Johnson airballed a last-second shot in Game 3. During the off-season, Johnson signed a 25-year, $25 million contract with the Lakers, which was the highest-paying contract in sports history up to that point.

At the beginning of the 1981–82 season, Johnson had a heated dispute with Westhead, who Johnson said made the Lakers "slow" and "predictable". After Johnson demanded to be traded, Lakers owner Jerry Buss fired Westhead and replaced him with Riley. Although Johnson denied responsibility for Westhead's firing, he was booed across the league, even by Lakers' fans. Despite his off-court troubles, Johnson averaged 18.6 points, 9.6 rebounds, 9.5 assists, and a league-high 2.7 steals per game, and was voted a member of the All-NBA Second Team. He also joined Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson as the only NBA players to tally at least 700 points, 700 rebounds, and 700 assists in the same season. The Lakers advanced through the 1982 playoffs and faced Philadelphia for the second time in three years in the 1982 NBA Finals. After a triple-double from Johnson in Game 6, the Lakers defeated the Sixers 4–2, as Johnson won his second NBA Finals MVP award. During the championship series against the Sixers, Johnson averaged 16.2 points on .533 shooting, 10.8 rebounds, 8.0 assists, and 2.5 steals per game. Johnson later said that his third season was when the Lakers first became a great team, and he credited their success to Riley.

During the 1982–83 NBA season, Johnson averaged 16.8 points, 10.5 assists, and 8.6 rebounds per game and earned his first All-NBA First Team nomination. The Lakers again reached the Finals, and for a third time faced the Sixers, who featured center Moses Malone as well as Erving. With Johnson's teammates Norm Nixon, James Worthy and Bob McAdoo all hobbled by injuries, the Lakers were swept by the Sixers, and Malone was crowned the Finals MVP. In a losing effort against Philadelphia, Johnson averaged 19.0 points on .403 shooting, 12.5 assists, and 7.8 rebounds per game.

In Johnson's fifth season, he averaged a double-double of 17.6 points and 13.1 assists, as well as 7.3 rebounds per game. The Lakers reached the Finals for the third year in a row, where Johnson's Lakers and Bird's Celtics met for the first time in the post-season. The Lakers won the first game, and led by two points in Game 2 with 18 seconds to go, but after a layup by Gerald Henderson, Johnson failed to get a shot off before the final buzzer sounded, and the Lakers lost 124–121 in overtime. In Game 3, Johnson responded with 21 assists in a 137–104 win, but in Game 4, he again made several crucial errors late in the contest. In the final minute of the game, Johnson had the ball stolen by Celtics center Robert Parish, and then missed two free throws that could have won the game. The Celtics won Game 4 in overtime, and the teams split the next two games. In the decisive Game 7 in Boston, as the Lakers trailed by three points in the final minute, opposing point guard Dennis Johnson stole the ball from Johnson, a play that effectively ended the series. During the Finals, Johnson averaged 18.0 points on .560 shooting, 13.6 assists, and 7.7 rebounds per game. Johnson later described the series as "the one championship we should have had but didn't get".

In the 1984–85 NBA season, Johnson averaged 18.3 points, 12.6 assists, and 6.2 rebounds per game in the regular season and led the Lakers into the 1985 NBA Finals, where they faced the Celtics again. The series started poorly for the Lakers when they allowed an NBA Finals record 148 points to the Celtics in a 34-point loss in Game 1. However, Abdul-Jabbar, who was now 38 years old, scored 30 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in Game 2, and his 36 points in a Game 5 win were instrumental in establishing a 3–2 lead for Los Angeles. After the Lakers defeated the Celtics in six games, Abdul-Jabbar and Johnson, who averaged 18.3 points on .494 shooting, 14.0 assists, and 6.8 rebounds per game in the championship series, said the Finals win was the highlight of their careers.

Johnson again averaged a double-double in the 1985–86 NBA season, with 18.8 points, 12.6 assists, and 5.9 rebounds per game. The Lakers advanced to the Western Conference Finals, but were unable to defeat Houston, who advanced to the Finals in five games. In the next season, Johnson averaged a career-high of 23.9 points, as well as 12.2 assists and 6.3 rebounds per game, and earned his first regular season MVP award. The Lakers met the Celtics for the third time in the NBA Finals, and in Game 4 Johnson hit a last-second hook shot over Celtics big men Parish and Kevin McHale to win the game 107–106. The game-winning shot, which Johnson dubbed his "junior, junior, junior sky-hook", helped Los Angeles defeat Boston in six games. Johnson was awarded his third Finals MVP title after averaging 26.2 points on .541 shooting, 13.0 assists, 8.0 rebounds, and 2.33 steals per game.

Before the 1987–88 NBA season, Lakers coach Pat Riley publicly promised that they would defend the NBA title, even though a team had not won consecutive titles since the 1969 NBA Finals. Johnson had another productive season with averages of 19.6 points, 11.9 assists, and 6.2 rebounds per game. In the 1988 playoffs, the Lakers survived two 4–3 series against the Utah Jazz and the Dallas Mavericks to reach the Finals and face the Detroit Pistons, known as the "Bad Boys" for their physical style of play. After the teams split the first six games, Lakers forward and Finals MVP James Worthy had his first career triple-double of 36 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists, and led his team to a 108–105 win. Despite not being named MVP, Johnson had a strong championship series, averaging 21.1 points on .550 shooting, 13.0 assists, and 5.7 rebounds per game.

In the 1988–89 NBA season, Johnson's 22.5 points, 12.8 assists, and 7.9 rebounds per game earned him his second MVP award, and the Lakers reached the 1989 NBA Finals, in which they again faced the Pistons. However, after Johnson went down with a hamstring injury in Game 2, the Lakers were no match for the Pistons, who swept them 4–0.

Playing without the retired Abdul-Jabbar for the first time, Johnson won his third MVP award after a strong 1989–90 NBA season in which he averaged 22.3 points, 11.5 assists, and 6.6 rebounds per game. However, the Lakers bowed out to the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference semifinals, which was the Lakers' earliest playoffs elimination in nine years. Johnson performed well during the 1990–91 NBA season, with averages of 19.4 points, 12.5 assists, and 7.0 rebounds per game, and the Lakers reached the 1991 NBA Finals. There they faced the Chicago Bulls, led by shooting guard Michael Jordan, a five-time scoring champion regarded as the finest player of his era. Although the series was portrayed as a matchup between Johnson and Jordan, Bulls forward Scottie Pippen primarily defended against Johnson, doing an effective job. Despite two triple-doubles from Johnson during the series, Finals MVP Jordan led his team to a 4–1 win. In the last championship series of his career, Johnson averaged 18.6 points on .431 shooting, 12.4 assists, and 8.0 rebounds per game.

Despite his retirement, Johnson was voted by fans as a starter for the 1992 NBA All-Star Game, although his former teammates Scott and A. C. Green said that Johnson should not play, and several NBA players, including Utah Jazz forward Karl Malone, argued that they would be at risk of contamination if Johnson suffered an open wound while on court. Johnson led the West to a 153–113 win and was crowned All-Star MVP after recording 25 points, 9 assists, and 5 rebounds. The game ended after he made a last-minute three-pointer, and players from both teams ran onto the court to congratulate Johnson.

Johnson was chosen to compete in the 1992 Summer Olympics for the US basketball team, dubbed the "Dream Team" because of the NBA stars on the roster. During the tournament, which the USA won easily, Johnson played infrequently due to knee problems, but he received standing ovations from the crowd, and used the opportunity to inspire HIV-positive people.

Before the 1992–93 NBA season, Johnson announced his intention to stage an NBA comeback. After practicing and playing in several pre-season games, he returned to retirement before the start of the regular season, citing controversy over his return sparked by opposition from several active players. During his retirement, Johnson wrote a book on safer sex, ran several businesses, worked for NBC as a commentator, and toured Asia and Australia with a basketball team that comprised former college and NBA players.

Johnson first fathered a son in 1981, when Andre Johnson was born to Melissa Mitchell. Although Andre was raised by his mother, he visited Johnson each summer, and as of October 2005 was working for Magic Johnson Enterprises as a marketing director. In 1991, Johnson married Earlitha "Cookie" Kelly, with whom he had one son, Earvin III; the couple adopted a daughter, Elisa, in 1995.

In 1998, Johnson hosted a late night talk show on the Fox network called The Magic Hour, but the show was canceled after two months due to low ratings. He runs Magic Johnson Enterprises, a company that has a net worth of $700 million; its subsidiaries include Magic Johnson Productions, a promotional company; Magic Johnson Theaters, a nationwide chain of movie theaters; and Magic Johnson Entertainment, a movie studio. Johnson is a supporter of the Democratic Party; in 2005, he publicly endorsed Phil Angelides for governor of California, and Hillary Clinton for president of the United States. Johnson was an NBA commentator for Turner Network Television for seven years, before becoming a studio analyst for ESPN's NBA Countdown in 2008.

After announcing his infection, Johnson created the Magic Johnson Foundation to help combat HIV, although he later diversified the foundation to include other charitable goals. In 1992, he joined the National Commission on AIDS, but left after eight months, saying that the commission was not doing enough to combat the disease. He was also the main speaker for the United Nations (UN) World AIDS Day Conference in 1999, and has served as a United Nations Messenger of Peace.

HIV had been associated with drug addicts and homosexuals, but Johnson's campaigns sought to show that the risk of infection was not limited to those groups. Johnson stated that his aim was to "help educate all people about what is about" and teach others not to "discriminate against people who have HIV and AIDS". Johnson was later criticized by the AIDS community for his decreased involvement in publicizing the spread of the disease.

To prevent his HIV infection from becoming AIDS, Johnson takes a daily combination of drugs from GlaxoSmithKline and Abbott Laboratories. He has advertised GlaxoSmithKline's drugs, and partnered with Abbott Laboratories to publicize the fight against AIDS in African American communities.

In 905 NBA games, Johnson scored 17,707 points, 6,559 rebounds, and 10,141 assists, translating to career averages of 19.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 11.2 assists per game. Johnson shares the single-game playoff record for assists (24), holds the Finals record for assists in a game (21), and has the most playoff assists (2,346). He holds the All-Star Game single-game record for assists (22), and the All-Star Game record for career assists (127). Johnson introduced a fast-paced style of basketball called "Showtime", described as a mix of "no-look passes off the fastbreak, pin-point alley-oops from halfcourt, spinning feeds and overhand bullets under the basket through triple teams." Fellow Lakers guard Michael Cooper said, "There have been times when has thrown passes and I wasn't sure where he was going. Then one of our guys catches the ball and scores, and I run back up the floor convinced that he must've thrown it through somebody." Johnson was exceptional because he played point guard despite being 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m), a size reserved normally for frontcourt players. He combined the size of a power forward, the one-on-one skills of a swingman, and the ball handling talent of a guard, making him one of the most dangerous triple-double threats of all time; his 138 triple-double games are second only to Oscar Robertson's 181.

For his feats, Johnson was voted as one of the 50 Greatest Players of All Time by the NBA in 1996, and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002. In 2006, ESPN.com rated Johnson the greatest point guard of all time, stating, "It could be argued that he's the one player in NBA history who was better than Michael Jordan." Several of his achievements in individual games have also been named among the top moments in the NBA.

Johnson and Bird were first linked as rivals after Johnson's Michigan State squad defeated Bird's Indiana State team in the 1979 NCAA finals. The rivalry continued in the NBA, and reached its climax when Boston and Los Angeles met in three out of four NBA Finals from 1984 to 1987. Johnson asserted that for him, the 82-game regular season was composed of 80 normal games, and two Lakers–Celtics games. Similarly, Bird admitted that Johnson's daily box score was the only thing that he cared about.

Several journalists hypothesized that the Johnson–Bird rivalry was so appealing because it represented many other contrasts, such as the clash between the Lakers and Celtics, between Hollywood flashiness ("Showtime") and Boston/Indiana blue collar grit ("Celtic Pride"), and between blacks and whites. The rivalry was also significant because it drew national attention to the faltering NBA. Prior to Johnson and Bird's arrival, the NBA had gone through a decade of declining interest and low TV ratings. With the two future Hall of Famers, the league won a whole generation of new fans, drawing both traditionalist adherents of Bird's dirt court Indiana game and those appreciative of Johnson's public park flair. Sports journalist Larry Schwartz of ESPN asserted that Johnson and Bird saved the NBA from bankruptcy.

Despite their on-court rivalry, Johnson and Bird became good friends; ironically, they became close during the filming of a 1984 Converse shoe advertisement that depicted them as enemies. Johnson appeared at Bird's retirement ceremony in 1992, and described Bird as a "friend forever"; during Johnson's Hall of Fame ceremony, Bird formally inducted his old rival.

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Kevin Garnett

Garnett as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves

Kevin Maurice Garnett (born May 19, 1976 in Greenville, South Carolina) is an American professional basketball player for the NBA's Boston Celtics. After graduating from Farragut Career Academy, he was the fifth player drafted in 1995. He became the first NBA player drafted directly out of high school in 20 years. His accomplishments include being voted Most Valuable Player of the 2003-04 season, NBA Defensive Player of the Year of the 2007-08 season and being named to twelve All-Star teams and nine All-NBA and All-Defensive Teams, respectively. He is also the all-time leader in NBA seasons played with averages of at least 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists per game.

Kevin Garnett was born in Greenville, South Carolina to Shirley Garnett and O'Lewis McCullough, and was the second of his mother's three children. After divorcing McCullough, Shirley Garnett raised Kevin and his two siblings. She then re-married and moved the family to Mauldin, South Carolina when Kevin Garnett was twelve.

Garnett fell in love with the sport of basketball while attending Hillcrest Middle School, although he did not play organized ball until high school. In his first three high school years, Garnett played for Mauldin High School. However, during the summer prior to his senior year of high school, Kevin was in the general vicinity of a fight between black and white students. Although not directly involved, Garnett was arrested. Due to the racially charged incident and fearful of being a target, Garnett decided to leave Mauldin. He transferred to Farragut Career Academy in Chicago, Illinois for his senior year of high school. He led Farragut to a 28–2 record and was named National High School Player of the Year by USA Today. He was named Mr. Basketball for the State of Illinois after averaging 25.2 points, 17.9 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 6.5 blocks while shooting 66.8% from the field. In four years of high school, Garnett posted an impressive 2,553 points, 1,809 rebounds and 737 blocked shots. He was named the Most Outstanding Player at the McDonald's All-American Game after registering 18 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocked shots, and then declared himself eligible for the 1995 NBA Draft. Garnett played alongside Ronnie Fields in high school, who also followed a professional career. Garnett also excelled in soccer during his high school days.

Garnett was drafted with the fifth pick of the 1995 NBA Draft by the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves, and became the first player to be drafted directly out of high school since 1975. After joining the NBA for the 1989-90 season, the Timberwolves had not won more than 29 games in any season. In Garnett's rookie season, the Timberwolves were in the midst of a transition phase; they replaced Bill Blair with Flip Saunders as head coach early in the season and made several trades. Garnett initially came off the bench in his rookie year, but moved into the starting lineup soon after Saunders became head coach. In his rookie year, Garnett and fellow newcomer Tom Gugliotta carried the scoring load. Garnett did not immediately leap to stardom as later prep-to-pro prospects such as Amare Stoudemire, LeBron James and Dwight Howard would, but he did have a very respectable rookie year. He averaged 10.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game and was voted into the All-Rookie Second Team. Despite having some promising players, the Timberwolves suffered through their seventh consecutive sub-30 win season and failed to make the playoffs. At the time Garnett was the youngest NBA player in history at 19 years and 11 months of age.

Before the next season, the Timberwolves made a draft-day trade for point guard Stephon Marbury of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. During the season Garnett posted improving averages of 17.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.1 blocks and 1.7 steals. He also had two games where he registered eight blocks. With a 40–42 record, the Timberwolves made their first playoff appearance in franchise history, Garnett and Gugliotta made their first All-Star appearances, and Marbury established himself as a valuable young lead guard. However, the Houston Rockets, led by Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, and Charles Barkley proved to be too much as the Timberwolves were swept 3–0 in the first round of the 1997 NBA Playoffs.

During the 1997-98 NBA season, the Timberwolves and Garnett agreed on a six-year contract extension that was worth an unparalleled $126 million. This was met with shock around the NBA, and the Timberwolves were used as scapegoats for the lockout that occurred the next season. The contract was a risky move and many pundits speculated that the deal would make it impossible for the Wolves to sign new players or even keep their own. Despite the furor over his new contract, Garnett continued to improve, averaging 18.5 points, 9.6 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.8 blocks, and 1.7 steals per game. Again, he was an All-Star, and the Timberwolves finished with their first winning record in franchise history (45–37 for the season). For the second consecutive year the young Timberwolves bowed out of the playoffs in the first round, this time losing 2–3 against the Seattle SuperSonics and superstar point guard Gary Payton. The two wins against the Sonics marked the Wolves' first-ever playoff game wins. The off-season started poorly for the Timberwolves though as 20-point per game scorer Tom Gugliotta left for the Phoenix Suns.

In the lockout-shortened season that followed, Garnett broke through as a superstar. Putting up stats of 20.8 points, 10.4 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.8 blocks per game, he was named to the All-NBA Third Team. However, midway through the season Stephon Marbury was traded to the New Jersey Nets after a dispute over his possible contract extension. Although the Wolves received two-time All-Star Terrell Brandon in return, they were not able to overcome the discord and limped into the playoffs as the 8th seed with a 25–25 record. The Wolves were defeated in the first round again, this time losing 1–3 to the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs who were led by young superstar and eventual NBA Finals MVP Tim Duncan. In the next season, Garnett continued his notable play, averaging 22.9 points, 11.8 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.5 steals per game and made the first of his four All-NBA First Team appearances. Assisted by sharpshooting rookie forward Wally Szczerbiak and steady veteran Brandon, the Wolves posted a franchise-best 50-32 record, but succumbed in the first round to the Portland Trail Blazers 3–1.

In the 1999-00 NBA season, Timberwolves' guard Malik Sealy was killed by a drunk driver and the NBA ruled that the free agent signing of Joe Smith was illegal. The NBA punished the team for the illegal signing by stripping the team of three first-round draft picks, fining Glen Taylor (the owner of the team) $3.5 million, and banning general manager Kevin McHale for one year. Garnett led the Wolves to a 47–35 record and made the All-NBA Second Team, but again, the Wolves did not survive the first round of the playoffs, losing to the Spurs 3–1.

In the 2001-02 NBA season, Garnett posted another notable season, his averages of 21.2 points, 12.1 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.2 steals per game enough for another All-NBA Second Team nomination. However, the Timberwolves bowed out in the first round for the sixth consecutive time, this time getting swept 3–0 by the Dallas Mavericks led by Michael Finley, Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki. Garnett's next season was one of the best of his career, his 23.0 ppg / 13.0 rpg / 6.0 apg / 1.6 bpg / 1.4 spg season earning him his second All-NBA First Team nomination and second place in the MVP voting. The Timberwolves posted a good 51–31 record, but for the seventh consecutive time, they did not make it out of the first round, this time losing to the Los Angeles Lakers, 4 games to 2.

In the 2003-04 NBA season, things finally seemed to come together for Garnett. In past years, the Wolves had practically been a one-man show, but now, the Timberwolves had made two valuable acquisitions: highly talented but volatile swingman Latrell Sprewell and the seasoned two-time NBA champion Sam Cassell, who supplanted Troy Hudson at point guard. In addition, defensive center Ervin Johnson complemented the inconsistent Michael Olowokandi. Powered by the best supporting cast in his career, Garnett averaged 24.2 points, 13.9 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 2.2 blocks and 1.5 steals per game for the season, earning his first Most Valuable Player award. With a franchise-record 58 wins, the Wolves stormed into the playoffs, and finally vanquished their playoff bane by defeating the Denver Nuggets 4–1 in the first round. After disposing of the strong Sacramento Kings 4–3 in the Western Conference Semifinals, Garnett and the Timberwolves met the Lakers. Against the Lakers, playmaker Cassell went down with a back injury. With reserve point guard Hudson also injured, the Timberwolves alternated between third playmaker Darrick Martin and shooting guard Fred Hoiberg at the "one", or even running Garnett himself as point forward or a real point guard. The Los Angeles Lakers pulled off a 4–2 series win.

In the 2004-05 NBA season, Cassell and Sprewell demanded better contracts and Hudson was unhappy as a reserve. Garnett was named to the All-NBA Second Team, but with a mediocre 44–38 record, the Timberwolves failed to make the playoffs after eight consecutive years. The 2005-06 NBA season brought more frustration for Garnett. With Sprewell and Cassell refusing to stay and stuck with a mediocre squad, the Timberwolves skidded to a 33–49 record. Despite Garnett's play, the team logged the second worst record since Garnett joined the franchise. On 10 May 2007 Garnett was named to the All-NBA Third Team.

During the 2007 off-season, Taylor admitted that although he had planned on retaining Garnett, he would finally listen to trade offers. Garnett's name was mentioned in various trade rumors involving the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers, Boston Celtics, Phoenix Suns, and Dallas Mavericks.

On July 31 2007, Kevin Garnett was traded to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair, Gerald Green, Theo Ratliff, cash considerations, Boston's 2009 first-round draft pick (top 3 protected) and the 2009 first-round pick Minnesota had traded to Boston in the Ricky Davis-Wally Szczerbiak trade of 2006. The 7-for-1 deal constitutes the largest number of players traded for a single player in league history. At the time of the trade, Garnett had the longest current tenure of any player in the NBA with one team, having played for the Timberwolves for his first 12 seasons (a total of 927 games). Garnett said that he was proud to be a part of the Celtics, and hoped to continue its proud tradition and basketball success. On the day the trade was announced, Garnett signed a three-year $60 million contract extension that will start after his current deal runs out in 2009.

On August 1, the day after signing his Celtics contract, Garnett threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Fenway Park prior to a Red Sox-Orioles game. Garnett has claimed to be a long-time Red Sox fan.

Garnett led all players in voting for the 2008 NBA All-Star Game. Garnett received 2,399,148 votes, the sixth highest total in NBA All-Star balloting history. Among active players, Garnett's 11 All-Star selections rank second to Phoenix Suns center Shaquille O'Neal, who has appeared 14 times in the All-Star Game. However, Garnett was unable to play due to an abdominal strain, and Detroit Pistons forward Rasheed Wallace was named by NBA Commissioner David Stern to replace him. East All-Star head coach Doc Rivers replaced Garnett with Toronto Raptors forward Chris Bosh in the starting lineup.

On March 8, Garnett passed 20,000 points for his career, becoming the 32nd player in NBA history to reach the mark, with a layup in the 2nd quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies. The only other active players who have passed that mark are Shaquille O'Neal, Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant.

On April 22, Garnett was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year for the 2007-08 season. It was the only major award a Celtic player had not claimed since the franchise's foundation in 1946. However, Garnett claimed it was a team effort which helped him win the award.

On June 17, Garnett helped the Celtics to their 17th NBA Championship, with 26 points and 14 rebounds in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.

On October 31, 2008, Garnett became the youngest player in NBA history to reach 1,000 career games, at 32 years and 165 days.

Garnett married long time girlfriend Brandi Padilla during a private ceremony in California. The wedding was the reason he did not take part in the Athens 2004 Olympic games. The marriage also made Garnett the brother-in-law of music producer Jimmy Jam Harris. Garnett is also a cousin to former Los Angeles Lakers player Shammond Williams, and is the half brother of Louis McCullough, who played for the ABA's Syracuse Raging Bullz.

In November 2005, Garnett donated $1.2 million to Oprah's Angel Network to help with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

He is a soccer fan, being known to follow Chelsea F.C. of the English Premier League, as well as having been spotted at various Los Angeles Galaxy games.

In the New England area, Garnett is a resident of Concord, Massachusetts, owning a home worth roughly $4.6 million.

Although Garnett is officially listed as 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m) by the NBA, many, including the Celtics organization, believe he is 7 ft 1 in (2.16 m). During the 2007 NBA All-Star Game, Garnett admitted in an interview with Craig Sager to be 6 ft 11.75 in (2.13 m) tall.

His nicknames include "The Big Ticket", "KG", "Da Kid", and formerly "The Franchise" (after being known as the Minnesota Timberwolves' franchise player).

Garnett missed two Celtics practices leading up to the playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks to attend the birth of his baby on April 18, 2008.

In 2009 Garnett was mentioned in The Lonely Island's single I'm on a Boat. The song quotes Garnett as saying "Anything is possible!" — an exclamation he made after the 2008 NBA Finals.

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Flip Saunders

Phillip "Flip" Saunders (born February 23, 1955) is an American head coach of the Washington Wizards. He previously coached the Detroit Pistons and the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Saunders was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was an All-America basketball player at Cuyahoga Heights High School in suburban Cleveland. In his senior season, 1973, he was named Ohio's Class A High School Basketball Player of the Year, leading the state in scoring average with 32.0 points per game. At the University of Minnesota he started 101 of his 103 career contests and as a senior teamed with Ray Williams, Mychal Thompson, Kevin McHale (who was part of the Boston Celtics legacy of the 1980s, and more recently, has been the Minnesota Timberwolves' vice president of basketball operations). Together they led the Gophers to a school-best 24–3 record.

Saunders began his coaching career at Golden Valley Lutheran College where he compiled a 92–13 record, including a perfect 56–0 mark at home, in four seasons. In 1981, he became an assistant coach at his alma mater, Minnesota, and helped guide the Golden Gophers to the Big Ten championship that season. After five seasons at Minnesota, he became an assistant coach at the University of Tulsa where he worked for two seasons before heading to the pro ranks.

Saunders would leave after seven productive seasons as a head coach in the CBA, where he ranks second with 253 career victories. He began his CBA career in 1988–89 with the Rapid City (South Dakota) Thrillers, where former Kings and Warriors head coach Eric Musselman served as the team's general manager. Musselman's father, Bill Musselman, had recruited Flip when Bill was head coach at the University of Minnesota.

Saunders then later moved to the La Crosse (Wisconsin) Catbirds for five seasons (1989–94), where he won two CBA Championships, before coaching in 1994–95 with the Sioux Falls Skyforce. He also served as general manager (1991–93) and team president (1991–94) of the Catbirds. Saunders' impressive CBA tenure included seven consecutive seasons of 30 or more victories, two CBA championships (1990, 1992), two CBA Coach of the Year honors (1989, 1992) and 23 CBA-to-NBA player promotions.

Saunders joined the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves on May 11, 1995 as president, working under his former Minnesota teammate, Kevin McHale. On December 18, 1995, Saunders was named head coach of the Timberwolves, replacing Bill Blair.

This happened shortly after McHale took over basketball operations for the Timberwolves. He added the coaching duties to his GM responsibilities after the team got off to a 6–14 start. The Timberwolves went 20–42 the rest of the year, but the emergence of young Kevin Garnett as a front-line NBA player was a major plus over the second half of the season.

He guided with dificulty the Timberwolves to their first-ever playoff berth in the 1996–97 season, his first full season as an NBA head coach, and to a franchise-record 50 victories in 1999–2000 which was duplicated in 2001–2002.

After the Timberwolves' success in the 2003–04 NBA season, in which they made the Western Conference Finals, they struggled in the 2004–05 season, winning fewer than half of their games. On February 12, 2005, Saunders was fired and replace by then-Vice President of Basketball Operations Kevin McHale as head coach. Many fans believed that the firing was unwarranted, citing instead the contract troubles of Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell as the reasons for the team's failure. However, many also acknowledged that Saunders had already coached eight seasons in Minnesota, and perhaps a new voice was needed.

Saunders replaced Larry Brown as coach of the Detroit Pistons on July 21, 2005. Under Saunders, the team set a new franchise record for wins during the regular season, finishing with a 64–18 record. Saunders coached the Eastern Conference All-Stars in the 2006 NBA All-Star Game in Houston, Texas.

Despite the successful season, however, Saunders has been a target of criticism for the Pistons' playoff performance, in which the Cleveland Cavaliers pushed them to 7 games in the 2006 Eastern Conference Semifinals. The worn-out Pistons then lost the Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat in 6 games. Saunders has received criticism for the poor defensive showing by the Pistons in the East finals. This has been speculated as a deciding factor in Ben Wallace's decision to sign a free-agent contract with the rival Chicago Bulls in the 2006 offseason. The 2007 playoffs also ended in disappointment for Saunders and the Pistons as the Cavaliers rallied from a 2–0 deficit to win the next four games and the Eastern Conference title.

Upon entering his third season as Pistons coach, Saunders became the longest-tenured Pistons coach since Chuck Daly's nine-year tenure (1983–1992).

Saunders was fired June 3, 2008 after the Pistons lost to the Boston Celtics in the 2008 Eastern Conference Finals; Detroit president of basketball operations Joe Dumars said the team needed a "new voice".

On April 14, 2009, Saunders reached an agreement to become the new coach of the Washington Wizards. The deal reportedly is worth 18 million over 4 years.

For seven consecutive years, Saunders failed to get out of the first round of the playoffs. In the 2004 NBA Playoffs, the Wolves advanced to the Western Conference. However, he came up short, falling to the Los Angeles Lakers 2–4 in the Western Conference Finals.

In 2005–06, Flip became the head coach of the Detroit Pistons following the complex departure of Larry Brown, who left to coach the New York Knicks. The Pistons were coming off back-to-back NBA Finals appearances including one NBA Championship in 2004. The Pistons had the NBA's best record in 2006, had four All-Stars in their starting lineup, and were the heavy favorite going into the playoffs to capture the NBA Championship. However, they lost the Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat, 4 games to 2.

The Pistons lost Ben Wallace in the off-season to the Chicago Bulls, but added playoff veteran Chris Webber, who came to Detroit out of his desire to win a championship. In the 2006–07 season, the Pistons had the best record in the Eastern Conference, but lost in the Eastern Conference Finals 4–2 to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. In the 2007–2008 season, the Pistons finished with the second-best record in the league, but lost to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, 4–2. Saunders is known as an offensive guru, and because of this he was not welcomed in Detroit. His defensive schemes as a coach came into question, and thus his tenure as Pistons head coach was very much scrutinized.

Saunders is married to Debbie. They have a summer home located in Medina, Minnesota. Their son, Ryan, was a 6-foot-1 guard for the University of Minnesota, Flip's alma mater. According to Saunders, he was about 20 yards (18 m) away from the I-35W Mississippi River bridge collapse on August 1, 2007.

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Minnesota Timberwolves

Minnesota Timberwolves logo

The Minnesota Timberwolves are a professional basketball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States. Their organization is a member of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Professional basketball returned to the Twin Cities in 1987 for the first time since the Minneapolis Lakers departed for Los Angeles in 1960, when the NBA granted one of its four new expansion teams (the others being the Orlando Magic, Charlotte Hornets, and the Miami Heat) to original owners Marv Wolfenson and Harvey Ratner to begin play for the 1989-90 season. They received the name "Timberwolves" as the result of a "Name that team" contest. Minnesota is home to the largest population of Timberwolves in the lower 48 states (at about 1200).

They made their debut on November 3, 1989 losing to the Seattle SuperSonics on the road 106–94. Five days later they would make their home debut at the Metrodome losing to the Chicago Bulls 96–84. Just two nights later the Wolves would get their first win, beating the Philadelphia 76ers at home 125–118 on November 10th. The Timberwolves, led by Tony Campbell with 23.2 ppg, went on to a 22–60 record, finishing in 6th place in the Midwest Division. Playing in the cavernous Metrodome, the expansion Timberwolves drew over 1 million fans (an NBA record for attendance) including the 3rd-largest crowd in NBA history at 49,551 on April 17, 1990 that saw the Timberwolves lose to the Denver Nuggets 99-88 in the final home game of the season.

The next season the team moved into the Target Center and won 29 games, however they fired their head coach Bill Musselman. They didn't fare much better under Musselman's successor, ex-Celtics coach Jimmy Rodgers finishing with an NBA-worst 15-67 record. Looking to turn the corner, the Wolves hired former Detroit Pistons general manager Jack McCloskey to the same position, but even with notable first round selections such as Christian Laettner and Isaiah Rider in the 1992 and 1993 NBA Draft respectively, was unable to duplicate his "Detroit Bad Boys" success in the Twin Cities as the Wolves on-court mediocrity continued. One of the few highlights from this era was when the Target Center served as host of the 1994 All-Star Game where Rider won the Slam Dunk Contest with his between-the-leg "East Bay Funk Dunk".

As winning basketball continued to elude the Wolves, Ratner and Wolfenson nearly sold the team to New Orleans interests in 1994 before NBA owners rejected the proposed move. Eventually, Glen Taylor bought the team and named Kevin McHale general manager.

In 1995, the Timberwolves selected Kevin Garnett in the draft, and Flip Saunders became coach. Christian Laettner was traded along with Sean Rooks to the Atlanta Hawks for Andrew Lang and Spud Webb. Also, first-round pick Donyell Marshall was traded the previous season for Golden State Warriors' forward Tom Gugliotta. These trades paved the way for rookie Kevin Garnett to become the go-to player inside. Garnett went on to average 10.4 ppg in his rookie season as the T-Wolves finished in 5th place in the Midwest Division, with a 26–56 record.

In 1996, the T-Wolves added another star player in the draft, swapping Ray Allen to the Milwaukee Bucks for the rights to Stephon Marbury, the 4th overall pick. The addition of Marbury had a positive effect on the entire team, as Kevin Garnett and Tom Gugliotta became the first Wolves to be selected to the All-Star team. Gugliotta and Garnett led the Timberwolves in scoring as the team made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history with a record of 40–42. However, in the playoffs the Timberwolves made a quick exit as they were swept by the Houston Rockets in 3 straight games. The T-Wolves also decided to change their image by changing their team logo and colors, adding black to the team colors and replacing the original logo with a logo featuring a snarling wolf looming over a field of trees. It was also during the season that Minnesota began to play on the parquet floor also used by the Boston Celtics and the Orlando Magic in every home game at the Target Center.

In 1997, Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury established themselves as two of the brightest rising stars in the NBA. Garnett averaged 18.5 ppg and 9.6 rebounds per game, while Marbury averaged 17.7 ppg and dished out 8.6 assists per game. Despite losing leading scorer Tom Gugliotta for half the season the Timberwolves went on to post their first winning season at 45-37 making the playoffs for the 2nd straight season. After dropping Game 1 on the road to the Seattle Supersonics in the playoffs the Timberwolves earned their first postseason win in Game 2 winning in Seattle 98-93. As the series shifted to Minnesota the Timberwolves had an opportunity to pull off the upset as they won Game 3 by a score of 98-90. However, the Wolves dropped Game 4 at home as the Sonics went on to win the series in 5 games.

In 1998, a year after signing Kevin Garnett to an unprecedented 6-year, $126 million contract, the Timberwolves were used as the poster child of irresponsible spending as the NBA endured a 4-month lockout that wiped out much of the season. With an already cap-heavy payroll the Wolves were forced to let Tom Gugliotta walk away in part because they want to save money in order to sign Stephon Marbury to a long-term contract and in part because Tom Gugliotta did not want to play with Stephon Marbury. This moved proved unsuccessful, however, as Stephon Marbury wanted to be the biggest star on a team and subsequently forced an in-season trade by refusing a contract extension. In the 3-team midseason deal that sent Marbury to the New Jersey Nets the Wolves got Terrell Brandon in return and a first round draft pick in the 1999 draft (which turned out to be the sixth pick). The Wolves made the playoffs for the 3rd straight season by finishing in 4th place with a 25–25 record. In the playoffs the Timberwolves were beaten by the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs in 4 games.

In 1999, the Timberwolves drafted Wally Szczerbiak with the sixth pick in the draft. He had a solid season finishing 3rd on the team in scoring with 11.6 ppg. Led by Kevin Garnett, who averaged 22.9 ppg and 11.8 rebounds per game, the Timberwolves enjoyed their first 50-win season finishing in 3rd place with a solid record of 50-32. However, in the playoffs the Wolves fell in the first round again, losing to the Portland Trail Blazers in 4 games.

Guard Malik Sealy was killed in a car accident in the summer of 2000 by a drunk driver. Souksangouane Phengsene, was driving the wrong way down the freeway Sealy was driving on, causing the fatal crash in his Land Rover. Sealy's number has since been retired, with the number 2 jersey memorialized with Sealy's name on a banner hanging from the rafters of Target Center. The drunk driver was convicted of vehicular homicide and sentenced to four years in prison. He was previously arrested for drunk driving in Iowa in 1997 and has since been arrested twice more for driving while intoxicated in 2006 and 2008.

Also in that season, a free agent deal signed by Joe Smith was voided by the NBA, who ruled that the Timberwolves violated proper procedure in signing the contract. The league stripped the T-Wolves of five draft picks, fined them $3.5 million and suspended general manager Kevin McHale for one year. (Smith would eventually sign with the Detroit Pistons before re-signing with the T-wolves in 2001.) Despite the trouble the Wolves made the playoffs for the 5th straight season with a 47–35 record. In the playoffs the Wolves were eliminated in the first round again by the San Antonio Spurs in 4 games in the spring of 2001.

With the arrival of newcomers Gary Trent, Loren Woods, Maurice Evans and the return of Joe Smith; the Wolves started the season on fire by winning their first six games and a franchise-best 30-10 start. One of the wins included a franchise record 53 point over Chicago in November. They would finish with a 50-32 record, their second ever 50 win season that was highlighted by another All-Star appearance by Garnett and a breakout season by Wally Szczerbiak, who earned his first All-Star appearance. Once again, Minnesota lost in the first round of the playoffs, getting swept by the Dallas Mavericks in three straight.

2002-03 seemed to look up for the Wolves. Kevin Garnett had a great season, finishing second in MVP voting while averaging a solid 23.0 ppg and 13.4 rebounds per game as the Timberwolves finish in 3rd place with a 51–31 record. As a result, they were awarded home court advantage for the first time when facing the three-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. After being blown out at home in Game 1, the Timberwolves had a chance to take a 3-1 series lead as they led heading into the 4th quarter of Game 4 in Los Angeles. However, the Lakers came back to win the game on the way to winning the series in six games, and the Timberwolves were eliminated in the first round for the 7th straight year.

In 2003, the Timberwolves made two strong offseason moves, trading away forward Joe Smith and injured guard Terrell Brandon in a multi-player deal for Ervin Johnson, Sam Cassell and embattled guard Latrell Sprewell.

During the 2003-04 NBA season, the Timberwolves became the team to beat in the Western Conference. They finished the season as the top seed in the Western Conference with a record of 58-24, and beat the Denver Nuggets and Sacramento Kings in the first two rounds of the NBA playoffs. Kevin Garnett leapt upon the scorer's table upon the completion of Game 7 in the Sacremento series, one of the more defining moments in franchise playoff history. Unfortunately, the Timberwolves' run ended in the Western Conference finals as the team lost to the Lakers, the previous Minnesota franchise. Due to an injured hip, Sam Cassell played only sparingly during the series with the Lakers. Kevin Garnett finally earned his first MVP award with 24.2 points, 13.9 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game.

In the 2004-05 season, the Wolves kept the same team from the previous season. The team was plagued with contract disputes and the complaining of key players Latrell Sprewell, Sam Cassell, and Troy Hudson. Coach Flip Saunders was replaced in midseason by GM Kevin McHale, who took over the team for the rest of the season. The Timberwolves finished 44–38, and missed the playoffs for the first time in eight years.

During the 2005 offseason, Kevin McHale and the Wolves started their search for a head coach. McHale interviewed Seattle assistant coach Dwane Casey, San Antonio Spurs assistant P.J. Carlesimo, former coach John Lucas and Wolves assistants Randy Wittman, Sidney Lowe and Jerry Sichting, among others.

On June 17, 2005, the Timberwolves hired Dwane Casey as the new head coach. This was Casey's first head coaching job. He was the Wolves' 7th head coach in their 16-year history.

In the 2005 Draft, the Timberwolves selected Rashad McCants, a shooting guard from North Carolina with the 14th overall pick of the 1st round. The Timberwolves also selected Bracey Wright, a guard from Indiana with the 17th pick of the 2nd round (47th overall).

During the offseason, they traded All-Star Sam Cassell and a protected future first-round draft pick to the Los Angeles Clippers for Marko Jaric and Lionel Chalmers. They also signed free agent Nikoloz Tskitishvili.

On January 26, 2006, the Wolves traded forward Wally Szczerbiak, centers Dwayne Jones and Michael Olowokandi, and a future first-round draft pick to the Boston Celtics. In return, they received forward/guard Ricky Davis, center Mark Blount, forward Justin Reed, guard Marcus Banks, and two second-round draft picks. In a separate trade on the same day, the Timberwolves traded Nikoloz Tskitishvili to the Phoenix Suns for a 2006 second-round draft pick. The Timberwolves finished 33-49, missing the playoffs for the second consecutive year.

In the 2006 NBA draft, the Timberwolves selected future Rookie of the Year Brandon Roy with the 6th overall pick, Craig Smith with the 36th pick, Bobby Jones with the 37th pick and center Loukas Mavrokefalidis with the 57th pick. The Timberwolves traded Brandon Roy to the Portland Trail Blazers for Randy Foye and cash considerations. The Timberwolves then traded forward Bobby Jones to the Philadelphia 76ers for a 2007 second-round pick and cash.

On January 23, GM Kevin McHale fired head coach Dwane Casey and replaced him with Randy Wittman. McHale explained in a news conference that it was inconsistency by Casey that led to the firing. Casey had compiled an overall record of 53-69. They finished the 2006-07 season with a record of 32–50, allowing them to keep their 2007 first-round pick.

On June 14, 2007, the Timberwolves traded Mike James and Justin Reed to the Houston Rockets for Juwan Howard.

In the 2007 NBA Draft the Timberwolves selected Corey Brewer and Chris Richard from the National Champion Florida Gators.

On July 31, 2007, the Minnesota Timberwolves reached a deal to trade All-Star Kevin Garnett to the Boston Celtics for Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Gerald Green, Sebastian Telfair, Ryan Gomes, two first-round draft picks, and cash considerations. This is the largest combination of players and picks ever traded for a single player in NBA history.

On October 24, 2007, the Timberwolves traded Ricky Davis and Mark Blount to the Miami Heat in exchange for the Heat's Antoine Walker, Michael Doleac, Wayne Simien, and a 2008 protected first-round draft pick (lottery protected in 2008, top 10 in 2009, top 6 in 2010, beyond: unprotected).

On October 29, 2007, The Timberwolves waived Juwan Howard after reaching a contractual buyout agreement, worth $10 million of roughly $14.25 million which Minnesota would have owed him. The Timberwolves waived Wayne Simien to finalize their roster to 15 players. The Wolves traded a top 56 protected NBA draft pick to the Spurs for cash and Beno Udrih whom was immediately waived.

Minnesota began the NBA preseason with two games in London and Istanbul, as part of NBA Europe Live 2007. On October 10, The Wolves lost to Kevin Garnett and the revamped Boston Celtics 92-81. To start the season, the Wolves began 0-5 before finally ending the drought with a home win over Sacramento. That drought also brought about speculation of the possible dismissal of current coach Randy Wittman. The youngest team in the NBA began adjusting to life after trading franchise star Kevin Garnett to Boston, meanwhile playing without budding talent Randy Foye for the first half of the season. Guards Sebastian Telfair and Marko Jaric were deputized as starting point guards during Foye's injury absence. The Timberwolves finished the season 22-60. On a handful of occasions during the season, the team showed flashes of its potential in wins or very close contests with the Boston Celtics, Phoenix Suns, and San Antonio Spurs.

In the 2008 NBA Draft the Timberwolves selected O.J. Mayo out of Southern California with the third overall pick. Despite Mayo being regarded as one of the top three players in the draft, McHale traded Mayo to the Memphis Grizzlies in a draft day blockbuster deal. The rights to Mayo, Antoine Walker, Marko Jaric, and Greg Buckner were traded to the Grizzlies for the rights to Kevin Love, the fifth overall pick out of UCLA, Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal, and Jason Collins. Critics see this as another draft day blunder as Mayo has started strong for the Grizzlies averaging over 20 points per game while Love has averaged only 8 points and 6 rebounds a game for the Wolves; however, the deal did remove one long contract (Jaric's) from the Wolves' balance sheet, and shed two aging, unproductive players in Walker and Buckner. It should also be noted that despite Mayo's quick start to the season, many experts rank Love in front of Mayo in terms of performance during their rookie seasons.

In 2008, in celebration of the franchise's twentieth anniversary, the team unveiled a new logo and uniforms. They first appeared in the first preseason game against the Chicago Bulls at United Center on October 14, 2008.

On December 8, 2008 after a 23-point loss to the Clippers that dropped the team to 4-15, the Timberwolves fired head coach Randy Wittman and Kevin McHale took over. McHale also relinquished his vice president of basketball operations duties. It's unclear whether McHale's future with the team is dependent on the success or progress of the team which he has put together over the last four years.

The Timberwolves flagship station is KFAN 1130 AM. KFAN has been the flagship since the team's inception, except for a brief two year hiatus to KLCI BOB 106.1 FM for the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons. Broadcasters are Alan Horton and Kevin Lynch.

Games are broadcast on KSTC-TV Channel 45 and FSN North. Broadcasters are Tom Hanneman and Jim Petersen.

On December 8, 2008, Randy Wittman was fired as head coach of the team and was replaced by GM Kevin McHale for his second stint as interim head coach for the Wolves.

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Source : Wikipedia