Farewell Transmission, Magnolia Electric Co.
The Timberwolves lost their first Vegas Summer League game on Saturday to the D-League Select team, 83-81. The basketball wasn’t pretty. There was no Ricky Rubio. There was no Kevin Love. There was really no one.
Except Shabazz Muhammad. Muhammad played like you would expect most rookies to play in their first ever pro game after just a few practices, with entirely new teammates, and with literally no point guard play. He finished with 7 points on 3-7 from the floor, with 1 assist and 1 rebound. Specifics are here.
What to make of it?
Well, Muhammad, the Wolves’ top first-round pick certainly didn’t play great. But he didn’t necessarily play poorly either. He looks aggressive around the hoop. He will get to the line. He will be a step slower on defense than we would like. He has useful skills. He has imperfections. He’s a #14 pick. He registered an assist. That means he exceeded the expectations of many naysayers who ridiculed the pick on draft night. An assist? That’s more than we expected, right? As Charlie Sheen said, “winning.”
But this post isn’t about Shabazz Muhammad and it isn’t about the Timberwolves. It’s about loss, and losing, in broader context.
Tonight’s loss didn’t matter. It was fake players and fake rules and fake everything.
The cat is out of the bag: Summer League doesn’t really matter.
At all. It’s cotton candy for fans when there’s no other NBA action. You don’t take Summer League losses, or wins, or stats, very seriously, unless you want to end up deluding yourself.
Juxtapose tonight’s loss with one that did matter–at least to me.
I recently learned that one of my favorite artists from years past, Jason Molina, had died back in March. I didn’t even know about it until a couple of weeks ago, when I had had a nostalgic “Where Are They Now?” moment. I had stopped paying attention to Molina a few years ago. His last few albums weren’t that good. Something was wrong. Either with him or me.
Farewell Transmission is still one of my very favorite songs. So is Riding with the Ghost.
Riding with the Ghost, Magnolia Electric Co.
Whatever the reason, I had moved on. But with a twinge of curiosity, I googled “Jason Molina” to find out what he was doing these days. Molina had always been prolific. Had he made a comeback? Was he still with his backing band, Magnolia Electric Co? Had they returned to making the kind of music I’d loved so much in the past? The rare kind you really feel a connection to? I needed to know.
When I started typing “Jason Molina,” Google auto-filled the rest of the search box with “Jason Molina dead.” I immediately knew he was gone.
As it turned out, Jason Molina, had died several months earlier. Molina had a drinking problem. He couldn’t control it. It destroyed his body, and eventually killed him.
What to say? I watched a couple hours of bad basketball tonight. I was frustrated by the Wolves’ loss.
But later in the evening, after I thought about how I felt when I learned that Jason Molina had died, far too young, I immediately let it go. There’s loss, and there’s *loss.* And whatever happens in the preseason, good or bad, it isn’t worth worrying about.
Here’s another Molina live clip, of his song “Tigress.”
A few additional Jason Molina tributes:
Esquire: “JASON MOLINA, 1973-2013: INDIE ROCK’S LOST SON” (link)
NPR: “Jason Molina, A Folksinger Who Embodied The Best Of The Blues, Has Died” (link)
BlackBook: “Magnolia Electric Co. Frontman Jason Molina Has Died” (link)
The Guardian: “Jason Molina Obituary” (link)
Billboard: “Jason Molina, Magnolia Electric Co. Leader, Dead at 39” (link)