Laettner Calls Out Flip over Garnett
February 20, 1996
Christian Laettner kept up his attack Monday on the Timberwolves' younger players, citing "a lot of undermining on the team bench" as part of the reason for his brief spat with Kevin Garnett during the Wolves' 108-96 loss to Washington on Sunday.
Laettner declined to be specific in his allegations, but he challenged the Wolves' coaching staff to solve the problem.
"If the coaches are going to be quiet, then the players will start telling each other we're not doing our jobs," Laettner said before Monday's Wolves-Detroit game. "If no one puts their foot down and says 'We can't have that,' it's not going to help our team. It'll grow and grow like a fungus or a disease."
Wolves coach/general manager Flip Saunders met with the team Monday morning at the Palace of Auburn Hills for about 90 minutes, but neither the Laettner-Garnett spat nor Laettner's comments were discussed. Saunders, however, said he would consider dealing with those issues if things get worse.
"I've been concerned with our team chemistry since Day One, and so far it's been pretty good," Saunders said. "If Kevin and Christian or anybody else becomes an issue, we'll handle it. One way to do it is that guys won't play if the problem becomes more serious."
Laettner and Garnett argued briefly Sunday as they broke from a timeout huddle. Laettner got upset when Garnett told Laettner he wasn't passing the ball to him unless he was open. The exchange prompted criticism from Laettner that appeared in Monday's Star Tribune.
Garnett said he was unaware of Laettner's remarks ("You've got to have the rookies and young kids shut up. ... We've got a lot of people who know everything.") until some friends in the Twin Cities called him at the hotel Monday morning and read the comments to him.
"I really don't care about it," Garnett said before Monday's game. "It's just a grown man's opinion, that's all. I'm not going to let things get out of hand by making a big deal about it. I won't stop passing him the ball just because of what he said. I still have a lot of respect for Christian."
Laettner said he and Garnett "get along fine," but the fourth-year veteran might be having a problem with rookies Jerome Allen, Mark Davis and Marques Bragg. Laettner didn't mention the rookies by name, but it was apparent he was referring to the trio in discussing the lack of bench support.
Allen, Davis and Bragg have seen limited action the entire season.
"We're supposed to be helping each other, yet we have people who haven't accomplished anything yelling at the starters," Laettner said. "No one on our team has won anything. For us to be pointing fingers and saying 'You should be doing this or doing that' is not helping anything."
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