Timberwolves Reality TV: And the final rose goes to…..

Post date: Oct 16, 2018 8:3:22 PM

The Timberwolves open the season Wednesday night. In all honesty, I don’t have a ton of hope for this year and there’s a few reasons why.

First…Golden State. They have one of the best TEAMs ever assembled with a talented roster from top to bottom. Can anyone beat them? I don’t know a ton about how the NBA salary cap works, but how do you get that much talent on a team in today’s NBA? Either the Golden State GM is a genius, or our GM….isn’t.

Second…LeBron. Now that King James is in the Western Conference…the Lakers are also contenders. In fact, there’s really only a few teams that have a shot at winning the championship. The NBA might have a bit of a problem when it comes to parity, but I don’t think they really care. In terms of ratings, they would much rather see the Lakers or Golden State in The Finals as opposed to Minnesota. The point is…the Wolves have very little chance. And that was BEFORE all the recent Jimmy Butler drama happened. The sad part is that when KAT was drafted and Jimmy Butler signed we all thought maybe our luck was changing and we would soon be one of those teams to contend.

So why even bother watching now?

I was a teenager in the 80’s. The NBA at that time might have been the best it ever was. Magic, Bird, Jordan, The Bad Boys, Malone and Stockton, Sir Charles. Most teams had big name stars and every team was fun to watch. I loved the NBA, but my entire life at that point had been without a professional basketball team in Minnesota. We had the Lakers back in the 50’s and a few ABA teams in the 60’s (Muskies and the Pipers, but they each only lasted a year). When the Wolves were born in 1989, I was an instant fan. I attended the first ‘Hoops Fest’ downtown and even got to play against the first 3 Timberwolves, Rick Mahorn, Tyrone Corbin and Pooh Richardson. (True story. It’s documented in WHEN-ESOTA? - the film). I also attended the first home game at the Metrodome vs Jordan and the Bulls. I still have the poster they handed out that night. See the photo below.

That first game was almost 30 years ago, and the wolves have had very little success in that time. It hasn’t helped much that they’ve only had one 1st overall pick in franchise history. The NBA lottery was invented to prevent teams from tanking at the end of a season. The wolves do pretty well tanking on their own. They don’t need to try. (As I type this, I’m flashing back to Mark Madsen launching threes in the last game of the 2006 season) Besides, even if we had better draft positions over the years, the wolves probably would have screwed it up anyway. (I’m looking at you David Kahn, ….and Kevin McHale, ….and Glen Taylor).

The Wolves current drama seemed to start at the end of last season. There were rumors of Butler being frustrated with KAT and Wiggins. Then this summer there was a story about a laptop getting thrown through a window at team offices, presumably by Thibs. Hard to believe, because he seems like such a cool, calm individual. #sarcasm In September, Butler makes a trade demand and gives the team the weekend to get it done. Then last week he shows up at practice making a giant scene, swearing at the owner and team staff, and ESPN just happened to be there to interview him afterward. If Butler wanted out, was giving ultimatums and was bad mouthing the coach and team before this happened…why even let him in the building? What did they think was going to happen? On the ridiculous meter, its one step beyond excusing absences and paying a player who’s holding out and still under contract. Which is exactly what they were already doing.

I have 20 plus years of experience teaching and coaching. Ever heard the term ‘locker room cancer’? It’s a real thing. Sometimes your team can improve when a bad attitude removes itself from the locker room, no matter how athletically gifted that one person may have been. Addition by subtraction. I just don’t see any way this gets better with Butler back on the team. But alas, they are moving forward with him.

So who’s to blame for this mess? Butler is being a giant baby and giving the term ‘spoiled athlete’ new meaning. Thibs? I’m not sure his Bobby Knight-esque patience is the right fit for this team. KAT and Wiggins? Even if it is their fault…they aren’t going anywhere. What about Glen Taylor? I think he shares a lot of the blame. Although I give him credit for actually trying to build a champion AND being willing to spend money to do it (unlike some other Minnesota owners), he has made some bad decisions that have really hurt the team.

It will be interesting to see who survives the season. It might play out like a reality TV show with eliminations at the end of every episode and only one person standing at the end. I’m envisioning a bachelor style rose ceremony where Jimmy Butler gives the final rose to Pat Riley and Thibs is left broken hearted. Maybe an ‘Apprentice’ board room meeting where Glen Taylor fires himself. Or better yet, the promotions department has an ‘American Idol’ night where Paul Grant returns and sings “She-Bang’ (William Hung style) making it the 7th time he’s actually stepped on the court with a Wolves jersey on.

As a lifelong Wolves fan, it’s really disheartening to think that we’re done before the season even starts. I hope I’m wrong. But, like I said, I don’t have a ton of hope for this season, as a matter of fact I think it might be a disaster. Now that I think about it, I still might tune into this first game just to see if anything else crazy happens. Kind of like slowing down at the scene of an accident, you can’t help but look.