Archive for February, 2013

I missed last night’s game against the Phoenix Suns because stupid Comcast/Fox Sports North decided to give up and show hockey instead.  All I know is that we lost by one point in overtime.  Here’s how it went down in my head:

1st Quarter:

We started off strong.  Pekovic looks like a beast and debuts a new tattoo on his forehead of Wesley Johnson getting peed on by Arizona snow-bird senior citizens.  Ridnour made some shots that makes you feel like we should keep him forever.  Then Ridnour missed some shots that make you think we should trade him the first chance we get.

2nd Quarter:

Adelmann has to be restrained from hanging himself with Chris Johnson’s shoe-laces (Chris doesn’t need them) when we go down by 30 to the Suns.  Steimsma gets punched in the throat by Arizona senator John McCain when Steamer’s bright yellow hair reminded him of the flashlight the Vietcong shoved in his face in 1971.  Michael Beasley smokes a blunt on the bench and nobody notices.

3rd Quarter:

The Wolves have their best third quarter of the year and lose the period by 20 points.  A bored Kevin Love gives free coats to homeless people in Phoenix, who then burst into flames from the heat.  John McCain personally thanks him.  Brandon Roy successfully undergoes knee transplant surgery using the hide of a gila monster and his own nose.

4th Quarter:

The Wolves come roaring back to pull within a few points.  JJ Barea does a flip off of Luis Scola’s mullet and does 40 spins in the air while the ball bursts into flames and the backboard shatters.  Derrick Williams gets called for a charge against a statue of Steve Nash.  The Suns try their hardest to get Wesley Johnson a point but he misses all of his attempts.  With 1 second left, Pekovic calls Wesley’s name and purposely passes the ball to his opponent.  Wesley makes the shot from one foot and the fans storm the court.  Overtime!

NBA Jam Fire Dunk

Overtime:

The Timberwolves forget that the point of overtime is to score more than your opponent and lose while comparing surgery scars by the free throw line.

Was I far off?

Well, the Academy Awards were last night.

You know it’s a depressing season when that’s my opening line.  This year’s Timberwolves feels more like the Razzies.

We lost again yesterday by one point to Golden State after leading most of the game.  If Minnesota were a movie, we’d be Water World.  Lots of money spent and a questionable Kevin.

If we’re going to be doling out awards, I’d like to give a few to the Timberwolves.  Welcome to the First Annual Tony Campbell Awards!

The Tony Campbell Award.  This is not the Tony Campbell from the Timberwolves but he's the only Tony Campbell I could find on Google holding an award.  Photo from beta.rider.edu

The Tony Campbell Award. I couldn’t find a photo of former Minnesota Timberwolf Tony Campbell holding an award so this Tony Campbell will have to do.  To excellence!  Photo from beta.rider.edu

Best Gimp:

And the Tony goes to Kevin Love for getting significantly injured not once, but twice in the same season.  When Love broke his hand doing knuckle push-ups/punching a wall, we thought the season was over.  But then, like Keyser Soze in The Usual Suspects, he surprised everyone by shuffling his way back to the team before breaking it again by waving hi to his mom or not bracing himself against the wind or something.  Can he come back and break his hand a third time this season to complete the elusive hat-trick of pussy injuries?

Best Last Resort:

And the Tony goes to Luke Ridnour for not missing any long stretches of time this year.  Luke is the Kevin Bacon of basketball.  He’s nobody’s first choice, but he’ll do.

Best Extra:

Chris Johnson.  He’s actually just a former mannequin for Jack Sikma’s sport coat that they roll out to make the roster official.

"Um, Chris?  It's Family Night man, can you put some clothes on please?"  Photo from mannequinstore.com

“Um, Chris? It’s Family Night, can you put some clothes on please?” Photo from mannequinstore.com

Best Foreign Player:

Everybody

Best Failed Lottery Pick:

Derrick Williams.  Derrick narrowly beat out Jonny Flynn, Corey Brewer and Wesley Johnson for this honor.  He was the #2 pick in the 2011 draft and I bet he would go at least in the second round of the 2013 draft.  For a Timberwolves pick, that’s amazing!

And finally, the Tony for most likely not to be here next year (i.e. The Michael Beasley Award) goes to:

Wow!  It’s a seven way tie between Derrick Williams, Greg Steimsma, Brandon Roy, Nikola Pekovic, Chris Johnson, JJ Barea and the entire Timberwolves fanbase.  The only guarantee for next year is that we will be called the Timberwolves and that putting the ball in the hoop is optional.

Next up we play one of the few teams with a more depressing future than us: the Suns in Phoenix.  Maybe a roving pack of havalinas will steal us all away and end the misery.

Well, the NBA trade deadline came and went and the Timberwolves sat on their damn dumb hands and did nothing.  Come on! I need something more entertaining!  This season totally blows.  I need David Kahn to do something insane to keep it interesting, like get Paul Millsap in exchange for the entire Target Center.

“But David, where are we going to play?”

“Two words: Ice Palace.  We will dominate the league unless somebody brings a bag of salt.”

I guess we need to keep Derrick Wiliams, because Kevin Love is out for most of the season.  Brandon Roy would have been nice to get off the books since he’s really just taking up $5 million or so in contract.  JJ would have been bad or good to see go, depending on which one we’re talking about.  If it’s the one that destroyed the Oklahoma City Thunder earlier this year, then boo sad-face.  If it’s the one that runs around in circles and thinks he’s a 7-footer, then adios Jose!  Luke is the only guy who’s been there consistently for us all season without injuries.  He’s like an old couch that’s full of rips, smells like your grandma and may have an old french dip somewhere in the cushion but you’ve had it for so long that you can’t stand to take it to Goodwill.  Man, I hope nobody ever says that about me.

What concerns me is that by not making a trade, we didn’t clear up any salary space to sign Nikola Pekovic for what he’s worth this summer.  He’s expressed interest in staying, but there’s now a semi-decent chance he could sign as a free agent with the Portland Trailblazers.

Pekovic, don’t go!  Where else are you going to find a freezing cold place that feels just like your homeland of Montenegro?

Okay, so I just google imaged Montenegro and it looks nothing like Minnesota.  But all the swords and skulls makes more sense now.  Photo from nationalgeographic.com

Okay, so I just google imaged Montenegro and it looks nothing like Minnesota. But all of Pek’s sword and skull tattoos make more sense now.  Hazzah!  Photo from nationalgeographic.com

Sigh.  So this is it.  This is the team we’re going to have for the rest of the year.  Gimps, rejects and hobos.  If only we were in the East!  We beat Philly last night and they freaking suck.  So do we, but they’re in the East so they are still in the playoff race.  If we were in the East we would be 48-3 right now.  The East consists of the Miami Heat, New York Knicks and 13 other teams full of off-season soccer players, retired mechanics and last year’s losers from Project Runway.  The Charlotte Bobcats are actually just 12 holograms of 2-Pac that nobody’s noticed yet.

Next up, the Timberwolves play the Thunder in Oklahoma on Friday.  That’s great!  The third best record in the league against a team that’s excited just to not have an injury in the last week.  They should let us have Russell Westbrook for the night just to make it interesting.  Or make Kevin Durant play with his shoelaces tied together.

We’re going to get annihilated.

“Minnesota Timberwolves” and “All-Star” don’t pop up in the same sentence very often.  In 25 years as an organization, the T-Wolves have sent five players to the All-Star game for a grand total of 15 appearances.  Michael Beasley’s been to the Hennepin County Courthouse more than that.  And if you take away Kevin Garnett and Kevin Love (Stephon Marbury somehow never made the team), that leaves you with three All-Star appearances total for the Timberpuppies.  Latrell Sprewell’s choked more coaches than that.

These past non-Kevin All-Stars have been all but forgotten.  What are the odds of a young NBA fan even remembering these guys?  There’s a better chance of LeBron James choosing Minnesota in free agency.  “I’m going to take my talents to Lake Minnetonka.  Me and Kent Hrbek are going to win not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven ice-fishing championships together.”

Tom Gugliotta – 1997 All-Star Game

GOOGS!

The Timberwolves have a long history of playing frat-boy looking players, and Googs is the Godfather of Greek.  Don’t get me wrong, Googs was a great player.  But all I can think about when he comes to mind is that god-awful late-90s barbed wire tattoo on his arm.  So Pamela Anderson.  Big Baywatch fan, Googs was.  Did he get a tramp-stamp too?  Hopefully he covered it up with something more timeless like a tribal tattoo.  Wait…

Googs!  Oh god, that late-90s barbed wire tattoo is killing me.  So embarrasing.  Hopefully he covered it up with something timeless like a tribal tattoo.  Wait.  Photo from bleacherreport.com

Where’s your pooka shells, Googs?   Photo from bleacherreport.com

Wally Szcerbiak – 2002 All-Star Game

It actually took me a few years to figure out that Wally wasn’t Gugliotta with a different haircut.  If Googs was a frat-boy then Wally was the guy who paddles the pledges and makes them drink goat’s blood.  Szczerbiak also has the most impossible name in the world to spell.  It takes five letters to get to a vowel.  Unacceptable.  If it weren’t for cut and paste, he’d just be Wally S to me.

I was googling Mr. Consonants to see what he was up to when I realized that he is the exact same age as me.  We’re both 35.  I am so depressed.  What have I done with my life? By his early 30s, Wally Szczerbiak had already achieved a successful career in the NBA.  In that same time frame, I worked at Jimmy John’s, went bald and unsuccessfully sued my landlord.

"Hey guys, do you wanna play Light As A Feather Stiff As a Board?" Photo from shamasportsheadliners.com

Wally Szcerbiak’s band camp picture.  Photo from shamasportsheadliners.com

Sam Cassell – 2004 All-Star Game

Sam Cassell was old and looked like ET.  But between him, KG and the coach-choker/spinning rims-maker we could have won a championship in 2004.  Unfortunately, he got lost in a forest and woke up half-dead by a storm-drain.  And even though I saw his flower clearly come back to life, our championship hopes disappeared right there like a trail of Reese’s Pieces into Oliver Miller’s mouth.  And it’s been “Next year!” ever since.  OUCH!

Sam Cassell chillin’ with his buddy Michael Jackson. Photo from postcarbon.org

The All-Star game is on tonight.  Hopefully the Timberwolves will be represented for years by future Kevins of all shapes, sizes and colors.

Technically, the Minnesota Timberwolves still have a shot at the playoffs.  But technically, I also have a shot at winning a break-dancing competition in Harlem while dressed like Kramer from Seinfeld.  In other words, NBA Lottery Draft here we come.  Summer just wouldn’t be summer in Minnesota without a suped-up hopper full of ping-pong balls.

I refuse to totally give up on this season, though.  Not because I am a hopeful little angel of light and joy, but because I am stubborn as a ice-fisherman in April and mildly obsessive-compulsive (self-diagnosed) and have pinned my entire happiness on how well the Timberwolves do.  Last season sucked shit.  The season before that sucked shit.  Everything that didn’t have Kevin Garnett’s name on it has sucked shit (and even a couple of those have too).  This was supposed to be the season of the ceasing of the shit.  Instead, shit got real.  So I have two options:  Cry and complain that I am a fan of the new Clippers.  Or smile big and wide and Stepford Wife my way through another goddamn Timberwolves season.

So…big smiles everyone!  There’s a lot left in this Timberwolves season to enjoy.  Ricky Rubio is really starting to up his play in the last half-dozen games.  At some point this season, believe it or not, we may even have all of our players back.  Except for Brandon Roy.  Let’s be honest, unless the NBA allows him to push himself around on a skateboard, that dude’s never coming back.  And then there’s a possibility of some kind of trade(s) happening before the February 21st trade deadline.  If one thing makes having a cast of gimpy, ill-equipped scrubs tolerable it’s having a slightly different cast of gimpy, ill-equipped scrubs.  To the trade scenarios!

Luke Ridnour for Raja Bell – According to 1500 ESPN Twin Cities, this trade with the Utah Jazz has been in discussion.  Oh Luke.  You know this poor bastard just wants to play on a contender just once in his career.  Just once!  Can we just trade him to Miami as a Make-A-Wish?  He’ll get a championship and we’ll get Juwan Howard’s ancient bones and his Cosby sweater.  Who cares?  He’d play as much as Kevin Love does.

Speaking of Kevin Love – The Minnesota Timberwolves WILL NOT trade Kevin Love.  All you bloggers/Bleacher Report hacks can just shut your faces about that.  I read some dude’s blubbery malarkey on RantSports about the Wolves trading Love for Carlos Boozer and a Bulls’ draft pick.  Are you fucking kidding me?  I know Glen Taylor and David Kahn are stupid, but that’s like dunking the ball at the buzzer when we’re down by three level stupid.  (I will never forgive you, Martell Webster!)  How insulting is it to us that people assume that since we have a superstar player, we just have to trade them because surely they’re not happy here?  Kevin Love is plenty happy, alright? His beard wouldn’t work in Los Angeles anyway, with all the heat and smog and spray-tanning.

Derrick Williams for Kyrie Irving – This trade involves a bit of mind-control and a mulligan on an entire year of basketball.  But I know a hypnotist/magician who might be able to convince someone to swap last year’s #1 pick/star of the future for last year’s #2 pick/Wes Johnson of the future.  All I need is some candles, a stereo that can play New Age subliminal messages on tape and someone willing to kidnap Dan Gilbert.

Greg Steimsma for Bigfoot  – Hear me out, okay?  First off, ticket sales would spike.  And Bigfoot would serve the exact same purpose as the Steamer by running around all willy-nilly and blocking a shot here or there seemingly by accident.  He also might freak out some of the more germophobic NBA stars.  And he kind of looks like Teen Wolf and that story ended with a championship.

He would foul out slower than Greg Steimsma.  Photo from deathandtaxesmag.com

He would foul out slower than Greg Steimsma. Photo from deathandtaxesmag.com

Our last game before the All-Star break is this Wednesday against the Utah Jazz at home.  Will the Jazz show up with a salty pair of magic underwear just for Luke Ridnour?  Stay tuned, sports fans!

I know the exact moment in life when you become not young.  Not old.  I hate it when people say they’re old at 35.  Old is when your pockets are full of Centrum Silver and Gold Bond Powder at the old folks home while you scramble for the best seat by the parakeet cage.  No, no, I know the moment when you become not young.  It’s when things that were cool when you were a kid become retro.

It’s when you see some snot-nosed kid bopping around with a stupid haircut you had in 1991 and you think “What’s wrong with these kids?  Nobody who lived through that the first time would ever want to see that again!”

The first time I experienced this was when Reebok Pumps came back into style.  Reebok Pumps are THE WORST shoe in the history of the world.  It is literally work to wear them, like having to crank your car or one of those pump-carts on the railroad tracks that nobody seems to know the purpose for.  Yes, it looked cool when Dee Brown leaned down and pumped his shoes up before winning the slam dunk contest in 1991, but for me it was just another chance to fall down in the cafeteria because my body couldn’t handle bending over.  I lost so many brownies that way.  Pump your shoes up all you want, it’s not going to make you look any less like Cameron from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Mike Brody.

Kids actually started wearing those shoes again a few years back.  Are you kidding me!?  Just because it happened in the past, it doesn’t mean you should relive it.  The NBA’s not having throw-back peach basket games with only white players.

The New York Knick’s Iman Shumpert is leading the charge for early-90s revival in the NBA right now with his eraser-head haircut.  Technically, the Miami Heat’s Norris Cole did it first, but his is more of a short Frankenstein’s monster than a landing pad for Soul Plane like Shumpert’s.

Because everybody always wanted to know what Bell Biv Devoe and Cape Fear would look like together. Photo from style.mtv.com

I just worry about what’s going to happen next.  Retro is a gateway drug.  Your kid could be next.  Make sure you pay close attention to his/her wardrobe and attitude.  One minute they’re copying Iman Shumpert’s deer-hoof hair and the next they’re wearing backwards JNCO’s like Kriss Kross and listening to Snow.  You’ve got a case of the Shumps.

This movie doesn’t end well.  Just ask former New York Knick and 1st wave flat-topper, Kenny “Skywalker” Walker.

Look familiar, Shumpy?  Photo from tumblr.com

Kenny Walker – i.e. the Ghost of Shumpert Past. Photo from tumblr.com

Kenny Walker played in the NBA for 11 years.  He won the 1989 NBA slam dunk contest, but is primarily remembered for his hair.  What does the future hold for someone like that?  According to his Wikipedia page, after the NBA “Walker…raced against a horse named “Pugwash”, and won.  The New York Times wrote, “It is a well-established fact that a fast human can outrace a slow horse, at least if the human is unfettered and the horse is forced to pull a sulky and driver, and the distance isn’t much more than a 100-yard dash.”

“Hey Kenny!  What’ve you been up to?”

“Well, I outran a slow horse 20 years ago.  Wanna buy some watches?”

I realize I can’t win the battle against retro.  Inevitably, someday in the future there’ll be an NBA player with an ironic emo flop-cut and Affliction shirt.  It can’t be stopped.  But be careful how closely you copy the past.  You might find yourself at Canterbury Downs racing tomorrow’s Elmer’s Glue.

I didn’t realize that I got star struck.  Not until I was at an AT&T store in West St. Paul, waiting in line to meet Ricky Rubio.  Like he was the Easter Bunny and I was a six-year-old.

A chirpy, perky woman stood outside in the Minnesota cold with yellow wristbands.

“Hello, are you here to meet Ricky?”

I stood there in my Timberwolves shirt and hat and acted like I always hang out in strip mall parking lots in West St. Paul.

“Oh, yeah.  Sure.  I hadn’t thought of that but why not?”

“Well, Ricky’s not here yet and the store is full, but if you put this wristband on I guarantee you’ll get to see him.  In the meantime, feel free to wait in your car or go take a browse at PetCo.”

Oh, thank you so much!  I gave her an accusatory, knowing stare as if to say I know you’re in cahoots with the PetCo people.  Don’t try and manipulate me, woman!  I’m a PetSmart man!

I took the wristband and agreed to wait outside the door in the cold with the three other sad saps who couldn’t get in.  We stood huddled together like a bunch of bums looking in on a nice, warm Thanksgiving dinner.

Looking through the cold, fogged up window of the AT&T store.

Looking through the cold, fogged up window of the AT&T store from outside.

We waited for 30 minutes in the cold.  Finally, a dirty, salt-covered Range Rover pulled up.  It just goes to show that Minnesota weather can make any car look bad.

“That’s him,” whispered one of my fellow transients in awe.  We stood and stared as Ricky, and a clown-car full of the saddest entourage you’ve ever seen, stumbled out.  I mean, they actually looked sad.  They all walked with their heads down, with their hands in their pockets and their hoods up.  The general mood seemed to be “I can’t believe you got drafted by Minnesota.”  And they all looked exactly like him.  Either they were his brothers or he bought an 80s music video machine that produces a trail of Rickys like a Michael Jackson video.  I believe their names were Dicky, Sticky and Ricky III (Ricky II was sick.)

I diagrammed in my head exactly how I was going to take a picture of me with him.  I’m 6’5″ and he’s 6’4″, so I imagined I would stand next to him and make a motion like “How short is THIS guy?” with one hand while I pointed at him with my other.  Maybe even a playful headlock.  I felt like there was a distinct possibility that he’d ask me to join his posse (I’m tall and dopey enough) and that I could become chief Range Rover washer.

Meanwhile, a large man walked up to the fans inside and started wildly gesturing at them about something or other.  I couldn’t tell what, because we were outside in the damn cold and couldn’t hear a word he was saying.  Maybe it was specific rules and instructions like “Don’t look Ricky in the eye” or “He won’t sign an autograph from Estonians” or “Please be careful as Ricky returns all autographs with no-look passes.  Four people lost an eye at the Verizon store in Chaska last week.”

Finally, we got inside.  At once, we realized that we were the only people there who weren’t a young girl, woman or man with a child.  Without a word, we separated so as to not look like an unsuccessful boy band.

Ricky Rubio AT&T Signing

That’s when I realized that it had not occurred to me to bring something for Ricky to sign.  Everybody else had jerseys and basketballs and posters.  Damnit, Mike Brody!  This is so like you!  It hadn’t even occurred to me that people sign things at autograph signings.  And because he wasn’t taking pictures with anybody, the line was moving fast.  Too fast!  I was getting closer to Ricky by the minute.  I began to panic.

Shit!  Uhhhh…he can sign my stocking hat.  No, it’s too dirty.  My shirt?  I don’t have enough shirts to spare because I gained weight and only have five left that fit me.  My pants?  My forehead?  My wallet?  I’ll buy a new AT&T phone and have him sign that!  Is this what AT&T had planned all along, you wiley bastards!

By the time I realized I had a business card in my wallet, I was only a foot away from Ricky.  I tried frantically to snap photos of him.  But none of them turned out in focus.  Because I was waving my phone around all fast, so he wouldn’t know I was taking pictures.  What?  Why?  Everybody was taking pictures.  I was holding my phone up in the air!  What did he think I was doing, playing Angry Birds?  What’s wrong with me?!  Get a good picture, dummy!

Ricky Rubio...or Bigfoot?

Ricky Rubio…or Bigfoot?

But there was no time!  Because HERE’S RICKY!   I never even looked him in the eye, because my phone was planted directly in front of my big, dumb face.  I just remember having a knowledge that it was my turn and that I was supposed to hand him my stupid, tiny piece of paper.

I handed him my card silently and without ceremony.  He signed and gave it back to me and then I realized that there were so many things I wanted to say like “How’s your knee feeling?” or “You’ve really been playing great lately” or “Do you realize you look exactly like a Japanese anime character?”

But all that stumbled out of my idiot mouth was “BUH HUH…THANKS RICKY!” in an overly loud voice.

Ricky signs my stupid business card.

Blurry photo – tiny card.

“Uh-huh,” Ricky responded, in a volume that was appropriate for someone a foot away from you.

Ricky Rubio autograph

Ricky’s signature. The loop represents his behind the back passes, while the high-reaching middle cleft is him aspiring to the heavens. The two small lines are representative of turds flying out of both David Kahn and Glen Taylor’s mouth.  At least that’s my take.

Then just like that, it was over.  I shuffled to the side as the remaining blank-eyed children and fawning women crowded around.  I briefly contemplated looking at phone chargers, then decided to head home.

Perhaps someday I’ll meet him again. But until then Ricky, Godspeed.  And “BUH HUH…THANKS!”

So long, Ricky.  And Godspeed!