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Sports

November 29, 2007

Curley: Garnett, Marbury duo would have been great

BOSTON - Once there was a time when Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury were on the floor together, like they'll be tonight, and the chilly city they played in, long noted as a hockey town, cared about basketball. Similar to how Boston does again.



Garnett and Marbury were on the same team then. Drafted in the first round, a year apart, a couple of kids who just turned 20 were going to put basketball on the map in Minneapolis.



Marbury, a point guard who was drafted in 1996, the year after Garnett was chosen, had an immediate effect on the franchise. With Marbury's help, Garnett and Tom Gugliotta became the first Timberwolves to be selected to the All-Star team, and the team made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.



A rookie named Bill Curley, the former Duxbury High and Boston College star, had a front-row seat to this show as a second-year player on the Timberwolves.



"It was obvious pretty early that Garnett and Marbury were probably going to be great players," said Curley, who recently took over as head boys basketball coach at Thayer Academy. "And then you throw Googs in, that's three stars. That was a team to build on."



But something happened, something even Curley didn't get when it happened before his eyes.



Garnett signed a huge contract for $126 million before his third season. Marbury had a problem with that.



After the Garnett deal, the NBA changed the rule regarding maximum contracts. The most Marbury's new deal could be worth was "only" $71 million.



Marbury couldn't accept the drastic difference and asked for a trade.



It was called, and might still be, one of the most selfish moves in recent memory - a 22-year-old not being happy with $71 million.



"I realize it doesn't look good, but Stephon had different kinds of pressures on him," said Curley. "He had a lot of family, brothers that he was playing for. The money was important to him, probably too important. I'm not saying it was right, but each player is his own man. It's too bad."



Garnett had no such issues. Curley says that had nothing to do with the fact that he had $126 million coming his way.



"With Kevin, it was never about the money," said Curley. "He was the hardest-working player I've ever seen. He would play 48 minutes one night and he'd be the first player in the gym the next day. I could tell you Kevin Garnett stories all day. He wanted to win. That's all he ever wanted. The contract thing was not his fault."



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