June 26, 1996....14 minutes and 37 seconds after Ray Allen was picked fifth in the 1996 NBA Draft, this trade was announced by the powers that be in "The Association":
Minnesota Timberwolves get: draft rights to Stephon Marbury.
Milwaukee Bucks get: draft rights to Ray Allen and 1st round pick.
I think it took the basketball public about another 19 seconds to fully understand what was about to happen courtesy of this trade...that Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury were going to be teammates. At that moment, I'd say a cool 24% of basketball fans CONSIDERED switching up and begin rooting for the Timberwolves. They had The Kid, Starbury, new uniforms that were dope, and they had a chemistry that was infectious for everyone involved.
Too bad it was never meant to be.
From the day Stephon Marbury stepped onto the Target Center court, until the day he left to go play in New Jersey, my thought was that KG and Steph would be the new age Payton and Kemp. I can't wait to see Kenny actually comment on this post, because watching the young Garnett do work was unreal. His energy was something so different in the league that you couldn't help but notice. Add in Marbury's confidence and attitude and they were the 1-2 punch for the late 90's.
Of course, the problem for the duo wasn't the coaches...the players...the money...or anything like that. Nope, the problem was simply Minneapolis, Minnesota. Have you ever been to Minneapolis? I have. Its actually one of the most beautiful cities I've ever been to...between the months of June and September. Other than that? You want no parts of Minneapolis. Plus, its kind of an outpost of sorts. Its all the way up north. Its not close to anything, and its not the most diverse city in the country. When you add all of that up, only one thing is going to make Stephon Marbury happy...
Which brings us to the trade during the '96 draft with Ray Allen. Let's take this in two parts.
1) If Stephon Marbury would've went to Milwaukee, he would've left after three seasons too. He wasn't going to stay in Milwaukee, even though it would've been very interesting to see Marbury play with Glenn Robinson and Vin Baker. In retrospect, Minnesota gave up a hell of a lot to get Marbury, only to see him walk in three years. They trade Ray, who was picked fifth, just one pick under Marbury AND next year's first-round pick, for Marbury? That pick might get crucified in today's world. Plus, that Milwaukee team desperately needed a PG, and I can vividly remember Ray having to run point because Sherman Douglas was roughly 238 years old. Ah well.
2) It seems easy to say that the Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett duo would've been live as all hell back then, especially now seeing the way they've gelled in Boston, but could you imagine what Minnesota would've looked like if Ray and KG would've stuck it out for more than three seasons? I mean, Ray is out here playing Jesus Shuttlesworth in a movie, and KG is out here playing Wilt Chamberlain (watch that clip for the first minute...you see Joe Smith playing Connie Hawkins, a crack deal made in broad daylight, and KG playing Wilt in some of the brightest and shortest red shorts ever...just weird in an amazing kind of way) in movies, they could've turned Minneapolis into the next Hollywood mecca...okay, maybe not. Would they have been cooler than Steph and KG? Probably not, but they'd be close. They'd probably be a better basketball team, and at the end of the day, that's all that matters.
One other point that I need to make about Stephon Marbury. I can vividly remember feeling some kinda way about Steph wanting to get out of Minneapolis so bad. I get it; he wanted to go home. I think as sports fans, we tend to think selfishly about what we think players should do with their careers. The 16-year old me looked at that situation and said, "Why the hell does he want to go to New Jersey when he could be playing with Garnett and making a run at the playoffs?" In that mode of thinking, I am right. You're going from contender to pretender. However, Stephon Marbury was 21 years old and leaving NYC for Minneapolis probably wasn't the easiest transition, so he forced his hand and the T'Wolves traded him to the Nets.
If Stephon Marbury played for the Bucks, and never bonded with KG the way he did, then decided to force his way out to New Jersey...I don't think anyone (outside of Bucks fans) would've cared one bit. Why? Because we loved Kevin Garnett that much. Part of the reason I think there was some animosity between KG and Steph was the fact that KG signed that (then obscene) contract for $121 million dollars, thus locking him up as a Timberwolf until 2004. KG thought Steph was going to be on his wing, then the man looks up and #3 is gone. I'd probably be bitter too if I was KG.
Marbury turned into a nomad of sorts. The man started playing for mediocre teams, only to then leave said team and that team would actually improve...sometimes drastically (see the Nets with Jason Kidd, and the Suns with Steve Nash.) From New Jersey, to Phoenix, to New York (good God, the New York experience was wretched), to being reunited with KG in Boston, to China, to eating Vaseline...I mean, what in the hell happened to the man? Yet, the man launched a value-price clothes and shoe line called Starbury, which is still up and running after its launch five years ago. Have you ever gone back and looked at Marbury's career numbers? The man averaged 20 and 8, finished 15th all-time in assists/game (7.6). It was never supposed to end this way for Marbury, yet it did because of that damn trade.
Of course, the GM's of the Timberwolves and the Bucks thought they were geniuses when these moves were made in 1996, and the GMs will feel like geniuses when they make their draft day trades today. Let's hope they get it right this time, because I can't afford to be teased like I was back in the late 90's with KG and Steph. They were that damn dope.