Monday, May 14, 2007


"If a tree falls in the middle of the forest and no one is around, does it make a sound?" That riddle should be changed to "If the Minnesota Timberwolves franchise is falling into obscurity and no one is watching, are they really falling out of touch?" The NBA draft lottery is taking place in 8 days, there's is a 11 percent chance that the T'Wolves can move up from the 7 spot and snatch a top 2 pick in this years draft. The reward for moving up.... grabbing 7 foot manchild Greg Oden, the most dominant college center since Shaquille O'Neal left LSU in 1992. Or Kevin Durant, the 6'9 forward/Mr. everything from Texas who became the first freshman in NCAA history to win National player of the year honors, fact is he swept every major player of the year trophy there is. My question to anyone in the Twin Cities area is, does anybody really care?

I can remember the 1992 draft like it was yesterday. Being a puffy little 12 year old, I was big into college basketball and our new franchise here in Minnesota. We ended up with the worst record in the NBA in 91-92 at 15-67, the worst in the league. All I could think about was the draft, The Wolves had the most ping pong balls in the lottery, and I dreamed of having Shaq in a Minnesota uniform. The absolute worst position we could muster was the 3 spot, which more than likely meant they would be drafting Christian Laettner, Mr. Duke Blue Devil himself, the poster boy of college basketball. I'll be honest here, I wanted no part of Laettner. He seemed like a whiny brat who just happened to be a good college player on a phenomenal basketball team. Shaquille O' Neal or Alonzo Mourning were the 2 guys that I and every expert in the Country fell in love with. Both were tremendous low post players, could change a game with their interior defense and quite frankly big men have and always will dominate in the NBA.

So what happens? Of course the Wolves fall to the 3 spot, they draft Laettner. They continue to be dreadful for 5 more seasons until the best GM in sports according to Forbes Magazine (Kevin McHale....insert joke here) takes over and drafts Da Kid Kevin Garnett out of high school and makes the Wolves respectable for 9 seasons. Shaq becomes one of the 3 greatest centers of all time, winning 4 championships and is still the model of which NBA GM's look for to start a franchise. Zo becomes a consistent 20 point, 10 rebound guy who unfortunately has had a few bumps in his career. Kidney cancer slowed him down considerably, but nonetheless he was a borderline top 50-75 player when healthy and also has a ring on his finger with Miami last season. Laettner has bounced around 6 different teams, never showing the promise he did when he was at Duke. Where he also was on the famous original Dream Team in the Summer of Olympics in 1992. (Why Shaq was not on this team is still mind boggling to me!!)

While the Wolves don't have the best lottery odds, they are definitely due for a little lottery luck. They never have moved up in a draft lottery, they have fallen in 4 lotteries though. This franchise is in need of a lethal injection and fast!! Has everyone forgotten 3 seasons ago when this team had the best record in the league and made it to the Western Conference finals?? I haven't, but this team has fallen from grace ever since. Sam Cassell and Latrell Spreewell drove coach Flip Saunders out of town the following season, Cassell was traded with a 1st round pick (?? why??) to the Clippers for Marko Jaric. Spree was sent packing after a 3 year, 21 million dollar contract wasn't enough to "feed his family." Needless to say, he hasn't been in the league since.

What has also occurred is Mr McHale acquiring 2 guards like they were sports memorabilia items, and whoever the coach is these trying to convert them to play the 3 spot. No true center which to speak of, and KG looking like he is doing this on his own. There are some bright spots for this club, Randy Foye could be a good Point man (I preferred Brandon Roy last season myself), Rashad McCants could become a Ben Gordon type scoring option off the bench, and Craig Smith is a 2nd round pick gone right, a man who can rebound and defend in the low post. If they stay in the 7 hole in the Draft, I look for Corey Brewer to be the option here. A 6'8 swingman who is very athletic, Brewer has been said to be the best of the 2 time National Champion Florida Gator prospects. He is lengthy and can defend as well, he will need to grow into his body, but he definitely could become the 2 option here in Minnesota, supplanting Ricky (D)avis (He plays zero defense!)

Will Brewer draw fans attention again?? Not as much as Oden or Durant would. Landing in the top 2 would springboard ticket sales and attention to this team again immediately. The logical option in my eyes is to wake owner Glen Taylor up and have him notify Mr. McHale, your Forbes Magazine GM of the year that his services are no longer needed. If they land in the top 2, McHale couldn't possibly screw this up again.....or could he???

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Howling Wolves

(*Note* The following is a piece taken from the Just Joey section of MNSG written about the Minnesota Timberwolves.)

. . . . . . I have this vision in my head of Timberwolves’ GM Kevin McHale paging though scouting reports from years past, landing on a page that says “LeBron James” and quickly gasping.

“I wanna take HIM this year!” He would say, excitingly.

There would only be one problem with this: It’s 2007. His scouting report is already a few years old. I wouldn’t put it past him; reading the wrong player reports from the soon-arriving NBA draft. Imagine the exchange with McHale and David Stern backstage.

McHale: Here you are, Stern. I want this LeBron James guy.

Stern: What? He was drafted three years ago. You can’t have him.

McHale: *Jumping up and down, whining* But I want a LeBron James NOOOOOWW! Get up on that god damn podium and make the call.

Stern: Kevin, he’s already been dra…

McHale: Do it, Stern! F---in’ do it!

Stern walks out to the podium and announces the drafting of LeBron James to the Wolves, leaving with his head hung in shame. The room is silent as other front office officials of the Wolves quietly applaud McHale, nodding in approval. Fred Hoiberg also decides to swallow a bullet.

These are the kinds of things I imagine Kevin McHale doing. I can’t possibly defend the starting five he put out on the floor this year and I can’t say I expected more out of him. It’s incredibly frustrating for me to watch him sit in the stands with a confused look on his face that says “Now why isn’t this working?”

But this year was suppose to be different. We brought it Mike James, after all. He was the guy that could score 20 a game and make the big plays. Everyone looked at his numbers and thought he would be a big acquisition. But the truth is, he put up 20 points per game with a terrible Toronto team. Outside of Chris Bosh, he was their offense. Before James had come here, I honestly didn’t know anything about him, outside of his name.

Mark Blount acted as our ‘center’ this year, impressing all with his range and agility for a big man. He was also a coward on the boards. Ideally, the idea is to have a big man take the rebounding load off of KG so Garnett can run the floor in transition. That’s not to say that Garnett would never have to crash the glass. He’s a great rebounder, but he shouldn’t have to be defined as a guy who must camp under the glass for our team to get a board.

I believe Ricky Davis also proved a lot this year as well. He showed us he can score 42 points and still be apart of a T’Wolves loss and he showed us he can score 13 points and lose as well. Very versatile that man is.

I have no words for Marko Jaric. There are times when he hits a shot from an impossible angle and I have a small bubble of hope for him. There are other times when I wonder if the equipment guy has to tie he shoes for him and suction spit out of his mouth during timeouts. He could be the clumsiest guard in the league; and that could be attributed to his size. I think the only thing he has going for him is his flawlessly gelled hair night in and night out. On nights when he breaks out the little spikes… untouchable.

Our rarity of a first round pick saw us take Randy Foye. Aside from essentially dumping the team on his shoulders when KG was taking a breather, the Wolves also thought it would be fun to exploit his medical condition during a halftime. See, Foye suffers from ‘situs inversus,’ meaning his internal organs are mirrored in comparison to a normal persons. I believe it was more of a public service announcement: “If you ever see Randy Foye passed out in an alley of the Warehouse District, compress the right side of his chest when administering CPR. Anything else will be considered futile.”

I think you get the gist of where I am going with my Wolves rant. The team was poorly put together and McHale acknowledged that. If they ruin their lottery pick this year, that is to say if they take anyone other than a player who can come in a contribute right away, I will forever hold it against McHale for ruining Kevin Garnett’s career. None of the Ndi Ebi crap. . . . . .

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Timberwolves Recap; Wolves 105, Magic 104

This afternoon the Timberwolves were in Orlando to take on the Magic with potential draft pick/playoff implication on the line. The Magic, led by young power-foward/center Dwight Howard put up a good fight for most of the first half even when trailing by as much as ten, routinely out-hustling the Wolves for both rebounds and loose balls. The hustle paid off and by the break the Magic found themselves down only one. The Wolves jumped out in the third led largely by much maligned Ricky Davis who finished the game with 36 on 13-21FG, and 7-7FT. Kevin Garnett struggled for much of the game on offense going just 6 of 21 from the floor. After a back and forth fourth quarter the Magic came back to tie the game in the final minute and a half and the teams traded unsuccessful attempts until regulation expired. In overtime the Magic pulled ahead on a layup by Grant Hill who the referees awarded a goal-tending call to when Garnett trapped the ball against the backboard in what I think as questionable call. Hill however showed he's still got something left on that play by absolutely blowing by Marco Jaric like he wasn't even there. Hill Finished the game with 21 on 9-15 shooting. The Wolves won the game though on the ensuing possession when, with about 17 seconds left Davis who had been hot all night nailed his third triple of the game to put the Wolves up by one. On the Magic's final possession Jameer Nelson drove the lane with seven seconds remaining, stepped into the lane and put up a floater which Garnett Got absolutely every millimeter of and yanked out of the air to seal the game.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Free Garnett

Do you remember Kevin Garnett? Do you remember his 10 years ago? Back when his youthful energy and charm captured the hearts and minds of basketball fans around the state? I do. Ten years ago I was thirteen years old and all of 5' and maybe 95 pounds, I had never played basketball, never had an interest in basketball, heck I barely even knew what a basketball was. But my neighbors at the time had a hoop in their driveway so, after finding a ball that they had left out one night I decided to give it a shot. I sucked. Bad. I mean I was worse than a blind paraplegic with no hands. But I stayed with it and I got better, eventually learning from playing with neighborhood kids the basic of how to shoot, pass, and handle the ball. As I got older, I got better but I always looked to one person for inspiration, Garnett.

It was a different time back then, Kevin was twenty, just coming into his own. Watching his youthful exuberance as he took the floor and the energy and passion which he brought to the game each and every night gave me a role model. As my admiration for Kevin grew so did my passion for the game, I found myself regularly checking the box scores of the players around the the league, keeping track of the transactions and standings. But something gradually changed. For one I began watching college ball, Syracuse in particular, and I fell in love with the game. It wasn't like the NBA. Players seemed to play with more heart, they're weren't as many huge egos; it reminded me more of my first true love, baseball, where players are typically humbled by having to take buses from town to town and sleep in ratty motels for years before becoming big-leaguers. Ever since then my passion for 'the association' has gradually been on the decline. Too many Rasheed Wallace's, not enough Hakeem Olajuwon's. The glorification of gangster culture, all of it. Today I can honestly say I've watched maybe one game this year. And the only reason I did that is because I was given tenth row seats to a Wolves game. A game which I remember more because Joe Nathan was there than because Garnett won it in overtime at the buzzer with a turn-around 8 footer.

I long for the days when the NBA excited me. The days when Kevin Garnett didn't have that look in his eye. The look of a lion who had been caged too long and kept without adequate food. The days of 'Da Kid have long since come and gone, and so has his fire for the game. He still plays the most passionate 48 of any player I've ever known, laying himself out each and every night to try and make an awful team better, but you can just sense his hearts no longer in it. And as the years and losses mount I begin to wonder if its not our responsibility as fans to demand that he be traded. Preferably to a contender. I'd take nothing back for him, I just feel so bad. I feel bad as a person, as though its my fault his life and game have been reduced to this. To playing to half-empty arenas (on the good nights) for the most incompetent front office perhaps ever assembled in professional sports, and in front of fans who barely cheer. Going to the game regretfully to say felt like about as much fun as a trip to the morgue. For as much as I long to see Garnett 'bring one home,' I just know its not going to happen. This is a team full of holes, laden with bad contracts, and bad personalities, and I'm sick of it. He must be too. Just let the poor guy go, he's given too much for too long to have to spend the rest of his basketball life dying a little more each day.

Free Garnett.