While watching the Spurs game on 1/11/11, I couldn't help but think perfect of an example it was of the current multifaceted problems that the Timberwolves are dealing with. It's not bad coaching, it's not just youth, it's not lack of effort, It's not just the zebras. It is a combination of so many things. Sometimes it's easy to question coaching decisions, like when Rambis wasn't giving Kevin Love minutes last year, and even early on this season. It is also easy to accuse players of a lack of effort. This is the kind of stuff that we post here on CH. I know, I do it to. Under my previous name I wrote an entire post questioning Kevin Love's hustle, and he's proven to be one of the hardest workers in the league. I'm going to try to explain the lens though which I watch the wolves, and I welcome comments of any kind.
Last nights game was a picture of what the wolves are dealing with. They're working hard and losing. They are working hard and being disrespected. Stop n pop's "Clown Patrol", here on CH, put a lot of things in perspective. First of all, there really was only the slightest difference between Richard Jefferson's steps against the Wolves and Luke Ridnour's steps against the Celtics. The difference is the numbers and names on their jerseys. Richard Jefferson's name and number represent a seasoned veteran who early in his career enjoyed bashing on people off assist from Jason Kidd. Richard Jefferson has always gotten to the rim. Luke Ridnour's name and number represent a little veteran point guard, known for his outside shooting, reasonably flashy passing ability, and his notable presents as a mentor for young star Brandon Jennings in Milwaukee. Secondly, it's the Spurs and the Wolves we are dealing with here. Spurs are respected because of their 32-6 record, and "there isn't enough chocolate icing in the world to make 9-30 taste good" (Jim Souhan, Star Tribune, 1/12/11). Unfortunately this is how it is. 9-30 doesn't taste good, and it sure as hell isn't respected. It's like Richard Jefferson is allowed to take the extra half step because he, or his teams record, has proven that he could of done what he did with in the rules of basketball. This isn't the same for Lucky Luke the wolf. The NBA gives the benefit of the doubt to the players and teams that have proved they deserve it, because it is stars and champions that make the league money, not friendly, not to mention talented, veteran 2011 Minnesota Timberwolves' point guards. The league benefits are huge if the spurs play well. They gain back three stars in Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker, and add another superstar filled team that everybody will want to watch when they face the Lakers in the playoffs.
The same thing happens with this new league wide procedure of not tolerating arguments with the officials. This originally sounded like a good thing. We don't have to see Kobe and LeBron wincing and complaining to refs when they don't get every call, or think they shouldn't have been called for a hack. But what hasn't changed is the fact that these guys still get their calls, and guys like Luke Ridnour, Corey Brewer, and Darko Millicic don't even slightly get the benefit of the doubt. So the result is what happened last night. Darko gets run into, probably curses in Serbian because, HE JUST GOT RUN INTO, and mister Ken Mauer drops him for a technical, because he thought he was just called a half albanian son of a serbian b****. Then Corey gets a little ticked of after a touch foul that Bruce Bowen would of gotten away with, and sticks his face within the 5 foot radius around Mauer, in which no one is allowed to go, and gets T-ed up as well. And you know the rest. Rambis, then Love got T-ed and the wolves gave the spurs five points. Five points they couldn't even try to defend in 10 seconds. (I never would have thought a Mauer form St. Paul would do something like that to a Minnesota sports team).
The wolves are not respected league wide. They need to win to be respected and in order to win they have to swim upstream. They've gotta be silent but deadly, cool and collected killers, assassins like Ezio (assassins creed II), well before they can be Al Capone and no one is going to make it easy. This brings me to another point. Many of us here at CH have been proposing trades that the wolves should conceder. Some with James Harden or O.J. Mayo or even J.J. Redick. But will that REALLY fix the problem? I think we Wolves fans, no matter how long suffering we might claim to be, are impatient, and for good reason. It's been far to long without seeing a winning Wolves squad. "I know everyone is frustrated that our effort doesn't translate into wins, but you can't look at this as a 'Year 2' for this ballclub" (Rambis, from Souhan, Star Tribune, 1/12/11). Rambis went on to mention that they essentially had to start over in training camp, and I think that's a good way to work after a 15 win season. This is year one folks. Unfortunately we had too many year ones before this one. Is what I'm saying clear? This team is showing effort, ability, talent, glimpses of stardom and they have only started. At this point we've gotta play with the hand we are dealt, and I think it's pretty dang good hand. We've folded to many times already and that ain't getting us anywhere. Discarding Wesley Johnson to pick up James Harden is only going to add one more piece that needs to catch up. Let them play, and let them learn. Let them learn to be a team that is cohesive. A team of assassins. Cold blooded assassins that are fearless and determined, but unfortunately happen to be stuck in a bog at the bottom of a mountain they have to climb. But ever foot and a half of progress, every defensive stop, every clutch shot made, is progress.
To progress! (however mucky and slow it might be)