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Of toils and toes

National | Minnesota star forward Kevin Garnett said this would be the year he'd lead his team to a playoff series victory.

Issue: "Staying underground," May 3, 2003

Minnesota star forward Kevin Garnett said this would be the year he'd lead his team to a playoff series victory. Coming into this season, Mr. Garnett's Timberwolves had dropped all six of his playoff series. Last year fellow power forward Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks bested him; this season the Timberwolves locked up a home-court advantage for the first round, but then drew the Los Angeles Lakers in the opening round.

Watching the Lakers play in the first round, it's hard to imagine how the defending champions lost 32 games this season. The answer is found in behemoth Shaquille O'Neal's big toe. Mr. O'Neal had his toe surgically repaired this off-season, and that caused him to miss the first part of the season. While the Lakers floundered early, Mr. O'Neal's big toe healed. And though the Lakers star insists his toe isn't completely healthy, he says it's healthy enough. That's bad news for Mr. Garnett, who will likely take yet another early exit from the playoffs. And the Lakers will march on as far as Mr. O'Neal's big toe can take them. Onward to the championship? Only a toe will tell.

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