Maybe, I thought, I should stand up and explain — with stirring eloquence and ice-cold logic — why the trade that brought Garnett to Boston for Al Jefferson and Ryan Gomes and Gerald Green and Sebastian Telfair and Theo Ratliff and two first-round draft choices was bad for both teams. Ainge and Grousbeck would grimace — would probably call security. But then Garnett would speak. “That cool journalist is right,” he’d announce gravely. Then, looking me in the eye, voice trembling just a bit, he’d say those two special words I longed for him to say to me: “Thank you.” Cue “Fanfare for the Common Man,” cut to a manly hug, fade out.
Fortunately, I kept my mouth shut. Garnett, God bless him, actually did strike a perfect balance between excitement at being in Boston and frustration at leaving Minnesota. And now it’s time to get some closure.
Oddly, having Garnett here in Boston should make this easier to do. Consider the awkward romantic parallel yet again. If, after a nasty breakup, one of the parties involved skips town, it’s possible to keep living in the past: here’s where we shared our darkest secrets; here’s where we slurped both ends of the same strand of pasta. But when the object of your affection is right there, in your face, moving on with his or her life, the past becomes exactly that. There’s no other choice.
The same dynamic should be operative with me and KG. If another Garnett trade had gone down — if he’d been shipped to, say, Golden State or Atlanta — I could have ignored the next stage of his career and wallowed in memories of our Larry O’Brien trophy–less years together. But now that Garnett has been added to Boston’s pantheon of celebrity athletes, that simply won’t be possible. Over the next three years (at least), the very lesson I need to hear will be pounded into my skull, again and again: Garnett and Minnesota are done for good.
Necessary as it is, it won’t be easy — but it’ll be easier than it would have been a year ago, thanks to the Patriots’ recent acquisition of Moss. In the 1998 NFL draft, the extraordinarily talented and highly regarded receiver was still undrafted when the Vikings (who were picking 21st) were “on the clock,” thanks to Moss’s sundry “character issues.” Once drafted, his on-field achievements surpassed expectations. As a rookie, his speed and athleticism let him impose, with breathtaking ease, his will on other teams: in his Monday Night Football debut, against the hated Green Bay Packers, Moss caught two touchdowns and made the Packer secondary look like a bunch of uncoordinated 10 year olds. But his luster faded, thanks to his laundry list of on-and-off-the-field contretemps, to the point where the Vikes dumped him on Oakland for relatively nothing in return. Seeing Moss in a Patriots uniform will be bizarre, but watching the nascent collaboration between him and Tom Brady should be fascinating. It might even be enough to turn me, after 11 recalcitrant years, into a very casual Patriots fan — particularly since the acquisition of the trouble-seeking Moss and Brady’s unwed fatherhood should keep a lid on that self-congratulatory “Patriot Way” crock.