Garnett sought out McHale, who was GM of the Timberwolves during Garnett's decade-plus in Minnesota, in the closing seconds of Houston's 101-89 victory over Boston, wrapping him up in a bear hug embrace that lasted for more than 20 seconds. McHale choked back tears as Garnett whispered in his ear, before the two parted ways and McHale exchanged words and handshakes with a number of other Celtics players.
McHale lost his daughter, Sasha, to a battle with lupus in November and he just rejoined the Rockets last week. Friday night's game was also played just hours after 20 elementary school children were killed in a shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
The Boston Globe reported post-game reaction from both men.
“KG and I, we go way back, he’s a good guy, there will always be a special place in my heart for Kevin,” McHale said. “We spent a ton of time together when he was a young guy. It was very nice. It was a long day today for me.”
Said Garnett: “I just want to say my condolences go out to all the families in Connecticut. Anybody that has kids, a niece, any kind of siblings, someone that they love, it’s just been a tough day. I just wanted to get it off my chest and say my condolences go out to all the parents out there. I seen Kevin and kind of had an emotional moment with him, so it’s been an emotional roller coaster today.”
McHale spent all 13 years of his Hall of Fame career playing for the Celtics, winning three titles. He traded Garnett to Boston in July 2007 and the Celtics went on to win the 2008 title.
To honor the passing of Sasha McHale, the Rockets held a pre-game moment of silence in November and wore patches on the sleeves of their jerseys.
A number of NBA stars, including LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant, offered thoughts and prayers to the victims of the Newtown shooting on Friday.