Monthly Archives: September 2013

Media Day Takeaway: The Love & Adelman Edition

kevlaaarrr

For better or worse I went into my first media day without much of a plan, beyond “take an extra hour for lunch.”  I wasn’t sure exactly where to go. (Thanks Darren Wolfson for pointing me toward the press room.) Or how to act as a newbie in a room stock full of veteran sports reporters. (Thanks Britt Robson for the pointers.)  I had no questions prepared.  (So I didn’t ask any!)

But despite my naivete on the logistics and intramedia etiquette, I felt I had a pretty good idea of what to expect in terms of interview answers from the players and the coach.  I’ve read enough newspapers and watched enough SportsCenter to know that media day is not usually the time for candor or nuance when discussing a season on the immediate horizon.

Against this backdrop of low expectations, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised.  Sid Hartman asked Coach Adelman for a starting five; a notoriously skirted question for a team about to break for camp.  Adelman listed Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic as four locks.  After some hemming and hawing, he confirmed what many of us already suspect: Corey Brewer will probably be the starting small forward.

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Budinger Injured: What now?

budingerrr

The news of Chase Budinger’s knee aggravation and need for surgery brings two cliches to mind:

“Here we go again,” and “Things will work themselves out.”

We’ll take them one at a time.

“Here we go again…”

I hardly need to explain this one.  Budinger missed 59 games last year due to a torn meniscus.  His teammate Kevin Love, All-NBA the season prior, missed 64.  Ricky Rubio missed 25 and had to play his way back into shape after ACL reconstruction.  Andrei Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic missed 18 and 20 games respectively.  I suppose I should also include Brandon Roy, here.  For a minute, we talked ourselves into his comeback tour.  It lasted five games before the former Blazer great called it a career.

In short, what many expected to be the team’s first playoff appearance in years turned into a 31-51 season of medical updates and frustration.

With just a few days remaining before media day (Eds note: I’m excited to make my inaugural media appearance on Monday.) and the start of training camp, this Budinger news carries an inescapable sense of doom-and-gloom, in light of everything that went down a season ago.  Let’s hope it’s the only setback the team faces in the season’s early stages.

“Things will work themselves out.”

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The Epic Tales of Gus Johnson

Bullets 70-71 Home Gus Johnson, Pistons 10-28-1970

At TrueHoop, Curtis Harris shares an epic tale about Gus Johnson trying to cram on Wilt Chamberlain, only to get his self a dislocated shoulder.  Click on the link to check it out.

Hey, speaking of cool stories about Gus Johnson…

From Earl The Pearl’s biography:

Gus was hip, too. He had a gold star in one of his front teeth, wore great clothes, had style, sported a Fu Manchu goatee–I think he was the first player in the league to wear one–so all of the black cats on the team gravitated to him. Although he walked with a slight limp, he even made his walk look cool. Gus had a 48-inch vertical jump and could leap so high he could pick a quarter off the top of the backboard. He was a street cat, known to knock guys out and shit. But he was lovable, too. Still, you didn’t mess with him. Gus was very charismatic. He just drew people to him, and I like that. He had a funny way of talking. When we went out to restaurants he had this thing about trying to speak all proper, like he would say in his real deep voice, “Give me one of them excellent steaks and cover it with some of that War Chester Shire sauce.”

Gus Johnson: We salute you. Per the Harris piece, Johnson died way too young to a brain tumor in 1987.

RIP.

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by | September 24, 2013 · 8:41 PM

INBOX: Are the Heat still hated? (Now with more Ricky Buckets and Master P)

beas & lebron

The Heat welcome back the affable-but-troubled Mike Beasley. Does this pickup, along with the Greg Oden signing, flip the script on whether to cheer for the Heat?

Andy G: In I Wear the Black Hat, Chuck Klosterman devotes a chapter to hating rock bands.  He runs through a list of every band he’s ever hated, explains the specific point in his life, and why that particular group evoked irrationally negative feelings from him.  The chapter is largely focused on The Eagles.  In the end, Klosterman forms the discomfiting conclusion that he now no longer possesses the capacity to hate rock bands.  Even The Eagles.  (He included the band three different times on his list.)

He explains why this is problematic:

Being emotionally fragile is an important part of being a successful critic; it’s an integral element to being engaged with mainstream art, assuming you aspire to write about it in public.  If you hate everything, you’re a banal asshole . . . but if you don’t hate anything, you’re boring.  You’re useless.  And you end up writing about why you can no longer generate fake feelings that other people digest as real.

Klosterman goes on to explain his “brain’s unwillingness to hold an unexplained opinion,” and articulates a general feeling that I’ve struggled with on this blog.  Caring about sports — or art — is not a rational exercise.  Hating a professional athlete or sports team is as dumb as hating a rock band.  Hating a professional athlete is as irrational as loving one.  Those are emotions far too strong to hold for people that don’t even know that you exist.

Reading that chapter reminded me of the Miami Heat and its best player, LeBron James.

I hated The Decision. I hated LeBron’s *decision* itself to overlap his talents with Dwyane Wade’s, I hated the primetime stomach-punch to Cleveland, and I hated the Kobe rip-off, “taking my talents” delivery pitch. I hated everything about LeBron exercising his rights as a free agent.

Four things about Heat Hatred:

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Exploring the Timberwolves 2013-14 Vulnerabilities

Ricky's Summer Camp

Ricky’s Summer Camp

We’re t-minus 10 days from the beginning of Timberwolves training camp, and it’s time to begin musing about the upcoming season.

We know the big news from the offseason:

  • Flip Saunders is now running the show, with Milt Newton riding shotgun and Bobby Jackson in the mix too. David Kahn is gone.
  • Rick Adelman and Nik Pekovic are back.
  • Love and Budinger are reportedly healthy. Word on the street is that Love is in shape. If true, this is a very good thing.
  • Corey Brewer and Kevin Martin are in.
  • Luke Ridnour is gone. So is Andrei Kirilenko. (Mikhail Prokhorov apparently made AK an offer he couldn’t refuse. Can’t really blame him.)
  • J.J. Barea’s still here, and as far as I know, he’s also still divorced. Alexey Shved is still here, and as far as I know, he’s still partying. (Eds. Note:  I actually don’t know that, I just like to think he is.)
  • Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng got drafted.
  • AJ Price might come to camp and compete for prime real estate at the end of the Wolves’ bench.
  • Ricky Rubio has been bicycling and kayaking through Europe. He took a break recently to play for Spain in Eurobasket.
  • Oh, and Derrick Williams still has a pulse. (Eds. Note: That is confirmed based on his tweets, unless someone’s ghost-tweeting from his Twitter. Whether or not he has improved his footwork to a semi-competent level remains unconfirmed.)

All in all, this year’s team has the makings of a good one….(more below the fold)

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The ’98 Finals and 4 Categories of Defense

payton vs jordan

I found myself watching the 1998 Finals last night. Game 6 was on, Bulls versus Jazz, “The Shot,” you know the one. Karl Malone and Dennis Rodman were mixing shoulder bumps with hip checks, Jordan was scoring tons of points, nothing else was on, and since my journey to catch up on 5 seasons of Breaking Bad in as many weeks was complete (just in time for an epic episode), I figured there was nothing better to do.

Holy cow, the game has changed in the past decade and a half.

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Serotinal Musings

bobbyJ

Monday Night Football is playing its opening-weekend double header.  My hay fever is in full swing.  If I had kids, they’d be just starting their school year.

It’s late summer, the NBA’s dead zone, and we’re a full three weeks away from the start of training camp.  There isn’t a whole lot to kick around at Punch-Drunk Wolves.

But we’ll try our best.

Wolves Welcome Coach Bobby Jackson

The Timberwolves announced that former point guard, Bobby Jackson, was hired as a player development coach.  Phil Ervin has the story at FSN.  Local fans remember Jackson better as star Golden Gopher than reserve Timberwolf.  He was the dynamic point guard on the erased-but-not-forgotten 1997 Gophers squad that won the Big Ten.  Led by Jackson and Coach Clem Haskins, they also reached the Final Four; the first and only in school history.  Had Eric Harris not gotten hurt, they may have cut down the nets.

Jackson gave a short, but interesting, interview to Mark Remme of timberwolves.com.

It’s a learning experience for me.  How to draw up practices, how to draw up plays, how to run practices, how to manage players, watching [Rick Adelman] interact with players during game situations, everything’s a learning process.  Working out with the guys, helping develop them.  And also learning when not to work too hard, and when to shut it down a little bit.  So everything’s a learning experience for me because, again, I’m young.  I don’t know all the things yet.  I kinda got an idea how to be a coach, but I still got a lot of things I gotta work on to become a great young coach.

That’s pretty candid, isn’t it?

Jackson played a dozen seasons in the NBA.  Some of those were for the early-aughts Kings; one of the league’s best in the entire decade.  He’s 40 years old.  He’s already been an assistant coach for the Sacramento Kings.  On one hand, I think he’s short changing himself.  Clearly, he’s qualified to be an assistant coach at any level.  On the other, it’s refreshingly humble when compared to recent retirees, like Mark Jackson and Jason Kidd, who immediately landed head-coaching gigs without a lick of coaching experience.  Bobby Jackson, in that short interview anyway, seems geared up for a long career in coaching.

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