FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Even Torii Hunter is amazed by the parallels between his return to the Twins and Kevin Garnett's recent homecoming with the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves.
Hunter, 39, was a first-round pick by the Twins in the 1993 First-Year Player Draft, playing in Minnesota from 1997-2007, while Garnett, 38, was a first-rounder with the T-Wolves in 1995, and he also played in Minnesota until 2007.
Hunter went on to play for the Angels and Tigers for seven seasons before returning to the Twins on a one-year deal worth $10.5 million this offseason, while Garnett played eight seasons with the Celtics and Nets before being traded to the T-Wolves on Feb. 19.
"I thought it was cool for me to come back and play with the Twins where it all started, and for him to go back to the Timberwolves where it started for him," Hunter said. "It's crazy how things come full circle. He left for Boston and got that [NBA championship] ring and I left searching for that World Series ring. For him to do that and come back to Minnesota and the Timberwolves, and try to uplift those young guys in that organization, is a testament to who he is. He's a great man."
Garnett is tasked with leading a young Timberwolves team that includes budding superstar Andrew Wiggins, while Hunter is in a similar situation with the Twins and has been mentoring younger players in camp such as Byron Buxton and Aaron Hicks.
Hunter said he's already reached out to Garnett and that he plans on meeting up for dinner with him once he gets back to the Twin Cities for the start of the regular season.
"We just have a respect for each other," Hunter said. "He's one of the great ones in the game and knows how to make everyone around him better. He fights for his teammates and always wants to win. I'm kind of the same way. I try to uplift my teammates and try to get them pumped up and prepared for games. So we've always had that respect from the years I was in Minnesota and the years he was with the Timberwolves."