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What happened when the Timberwolves were at New Jersey?

Kevin Garnett, 1999 by Cliff is licensed under CC BY 2.0

What happened when the Timberwolves were at New Jersey?

Estimated Reading Time: 8 Minutes

There have been many unanswered questions throughout the course of music history.

Despite it being against all odds, did Phil Collins ever get back together with his ex?

What were the Beastie Boys trying to sabotage? Or was someone trying to sabotage them?

What movie was showing at the sneak preview when Mark Hoppus thought he might see his old girlfriend?

Who did in fact let the dogs out?

But there is one question that mystifies everyone each day. The question the entire world desires clarity on.

What happened in the game from the Taking Back Sunday song “Timberwolves at New Jersey”?

The first step is identifying which game inspired this legendary emo-rock band. The internet says the band saw a listing for a game between the two teams on TV and that’s the only reason for the song title.

According to Wikipedia, TBS’ first studio album “Tell All Your Friends” was recorded over two weeks in December of 2001. The Minnesota Timberwolves visited the New Jersey Nets on December 19th, 2001.

This game can’t be the game.

There are also several rumors on the internet this song includes references to former members of TBS. The band was formed in November of 1999, followed by an incident ~three-to-four months later that caused a member to leave the group (again, according to Wikipedia).

The Minnesota Timberwolves played at New Jersey on March 24th, 2000. The timeline would seem too quick for the song to be written based on what might have happened that day or could have even been after.

Therefore, it stands to reason the game that inspired the song title is when the Minnesota Timberwolves visited the New Jersey Nets on December 12th, 2000.

With that settled it’s time to move on to who played in this game and why it is linked to this song.

Again, the internet tells us the lyrics were written about a former band member and the song title has nothing to do with basketball.


But it is noticeable how these lyrics about a break-up between two friends could maybe be about two teammates?

The Garnett/Marbury Divorce

The Minnesota Timberwolves drafted Kevin Garnett with the 5th pick in the 1995 NBA Draft. Then they acquired Stephon Marbury, who had been selected #4, in a draft day trade in 1996.

This seemed to give the Timberwolves the kind of big man/guard combo the Orlando Magic had just recently rode to the Finals with Shaq and Penny. The future seemed bright, but it would unfortunately end very similarly to the Magic’s journey, albeit without the Finals appearance.

After two and a half seasons with Garnett, Marbury was traded to the New Jersey Nets. The reason for Marbury wanting out has been theorized from his wanting his own team to wanting a different cultural environment from Minnesota.

No matter the reason, two of the rising stars of the NBA split and then met each other again on the court in December 2000 with the Timberwolves at New Jersey.

While the lyrics to “Timberwolves at New Jersey” seem to be about two friends discussing how to attract women, there is also an interpretation of the lyrics describing the Garnett/Marbury split.

To properly examine this narrative, it’s important to go through each lyric and whose point-of-view the song comes from at that moment.

[*Full disclosure, there are lyrics referencing guns that have been left out. Also, the end of the song is a bit nonsensical so that is not included.]

Get up, get up
Come on, come on, let’s go
There’s just a few things
I think that you should know

POV = Garnett

Have you ever watched Kevin Garnett get ready to play basketball, or play basketball? Or talk about playing basketball?

These lyrics couldn’t be more aligned with Garnett’s demeanor and aura if the first line was “I’m Kevin Garnett from the NBA”.

Plus, with Garnett being in the league one year earlier than Marbury, it feels right that he would be trying to teach Marbury the ropes.

Those words at best
Were worse than teenage poetry
Fragment ideas and too many pronouns
Stop it, come on
You’re not making sense now

POV = Marbury

The beginning of a rift?

Marbury could have not loved KG’s rah-rah attitude and not appreciated being told “this is how things go” from someone with only one year more experience.

You can’t make them want you
They’re all just laughing

POV = The rest of the NBA

This is the real tragedy of this failed tandem, because the rest of the NBA was likely ecstatic about the break-up. Marbury’s career might not have been Hall-of-Fame caliber, but in his first six seasons after leaving Minnesota he averaged 22 points and 8 assists a game. There was still success to be had in Minnesota with KG.

Maybe KG-Marbury don’t challenge the Shaq-Kobe Lakers if Marbury remains, but we’ll never know. And the rest of the NBA was happy these two couldn’t make it work.

Literate and stylish (literate and stylish)
Kissable and quiet (kissable and quiet)
Well that’s what girls dreams are made of
And that’s all you need to know (and that’s all you need to know)

POV = Marbury

Here is where Marbury is describing what he’s looking for in his NBA career with the “girl” being the top spot on a team in a big market. And this was all you needed to know about a player nicknamed “Starbury”.

You have it or you don’t (you have it or you)
You have it or you (don’t)
You see how much time you’re wastin?
You’re coward of seperatin’

POV = Garnett

KG’s counter is winning should be the priority and focusing on anything else is a waste of time. He also acknowledges that either a player is wired this way or isn’t. Perhaps he knew early on this wasn’t going to work out.

Stop it, come on
You know I can’t help it
I got the mic
And you got the mosh pit

POV = Marbury

Now Marbury is appealing to KG’s knowledge of who Marbury is as a player. He is who he is and can’t change that. Marbury desires the stardom of being a lead singer, the scoring and flashy passing. And he knows KG relishes the grit and grind of defense and fighting for rebounds, similar to a mosh pit battle.

It really should have been a perfect on-court combination.

What will it take
To make you admit that you were wrong?

POV = KG & Marbury

But it wasn’t a perfect fit because they each wanted different things, and neither could admit they were wrong.

Was his demise so carefully constructed?
Well let’s just say I got what I wanted
Cause in the end it’s always the same (it’s justified)
Lets go

POV = Marbury

Demise is a strong word for what happens to KG after Marbury leaves, but if Marbury wanted a trade to have his own team in a bigger market then he succeeded. And KG didn’t have another teammate as good as Marbury until he was traded to Boston in 2007.

Literate and stylish (literate and Stylish)
Kissable and quiet (kissable and quiet)
Well that’s what girls dreams are made of
And that’s all you need to know (and that’s all you need to know)

POV = Garnett

Now when it’s KG’s turn for the chorus the “girl” becomes a description of the championship ring he was able to win on the Celtics. At the end of the day, Marbury got what he wanted but so did KG. And that’s all that matters to Garnett.

This is me with the words on the tip of my tongue
Remind me not to ever act this way again

POV = Marbury

Despite being the “man” on the Nets, Marbury might have regrets for how his career played out. He had great numbers out of Minnesota, but he also was traded two more times within those six seasons. That’s not usually something that happens to a player highly valued by their franchise.

This is you trying hard to
Make sure that you’re seen
With a girl on your arm
And your heart on your sleeve
Remind me not to ever think of you again

POV = Garnett

If you look at the relationship between Ray Allen and KG since Allen left Boston, it’s clear KG is not quick to forgive.

At the end of the song, KG is being clear with Marbury that he made his choice and he has to live with it. KG was just fine without him and will continue to be so.

So, what happened in the game?

The Nets beat the Timberwolves 116-94.

Marbury lead all scorers with 27 points, and also had 7 assists, while KG had 21 points and 10 rebounds.

This would be a classic tale of Marbury winning the battle with KG winning the war though. The Timberwolves would go on to make the playoffs and the Nets would finish with the 6th worst record in the league.

Marbury got what he wanted in terms of his solo-starring role, but KG’s future would include the championship hardware and long-term legacy that was so important to him. And so, his performance in this game mirrors Dottie letting the ball roll out of her hand so Kit can score at the end of a “League of Their Own”.

Was it a classic game? No, but the underlying struggle between two young men trying to achieve their dreams is worthy of being immortalized by emo rockers from Long Island.

Even if the band won’t admit that the song is actually about basketball.

Terry is from Massachusetts and is a passionate fan of the Patriots, Celtics, Red Sox and Bruins. He also will admit he only pays attention to Syracuse basketball when they're good. If there's a Twitter trade rumor even remotely associated with one of his teams, he's likely fallen for it. Finally, he believes 100% that if the Celtics had beaten the Heat in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals they would have swept the Thunder in the Finals.

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