On Friday, March 9, 2012, the Minnesota Timberwolves played its most-anticipated game in over seven years when Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol came to town. The team was 21-19, its best mid-season record since the Saunders Administration, the glamorous and championship-tested Lakers were a hot ticket, and just to fan the flames of the fiery matchup ahead, there was even buzz on Twitter that Pau Gasol might be traded to the Timberwolves over the weekend. I attended this game, and remember a palpable buzz around First Avenue during the Friday happy hour, with fans all eager to watch what promised to be a great game. Oh, and there was one more gimmick to celebrate what seemed like a momentous occasion in the franchise’s Post-Garnett Era. There would be a “whiteout” of the crowd, with white tees waiting on seats for fans to throw on in support of the home team. While a significant fraction of fans were donning purple and gold, the whiteout was there and was kind of cool to see after watching so many games in recent seasons with dead Target Center crowds.
Of course, this whiteout could not have ended worse for the Wolves. With Love sitting out with a suspension (for chest-stomping Luis Scola) the Wolves inexplicably led the Lakers the whole way, carrying a lead well into winning time and raising the hopes of the whited-out crowd that the team was on the verge of its biggest victory in years. The game’s prospects–and the season’s–were dashed when Ricky Rubio tore up his knee, ending the game and effectively ending the season. Was the whiteout a hex? Continue reading