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Passion and Patience: Your 2014-15 Timberwolves Season Preview

 

HOUSE OF LEAVES

 

Passion has little to do with euphoria and everything to do with patience. It is not about feeling good. It is about endurance. Like patience, passion comes from the same Latin root: pati. It does not mean to flow with exuberance. It means to suffer.” 

-Mark Z. Danielewski, “House of Leaves”

More than six months ago, on April 16th, following the Wolves’ season-ending 136-130 loss to the Utah Jazz, Rick Adelman and Kevin Love walked off the floor tired, disappointed and with their eyes on the exit signs.

A week later, Adelman announced his retirement and stepped into an advisor’s role, done with the daily grind of the NBA after more than four decades on the job. Depending on your level of cynicism, you might contend that Kevin Love’s exit strategy began to take shape the moment he was refused the five-year maximum offer in January, 2012. But the mechanics kicked into high gear in mid-May, and by the end of that month, it was fairly obvious Love had played his final game in a Timberwolves uniform.

In June, Flip Saunders’ search for a new head coach resulted in Flip Saunders naming Flip Saunders the new head coach. The Wolves selected Zach LaVine (12th) and Glenn Robinson III (40th) in the NBA Draft. In July, LeBron decided he was going to head back to Cleveland, which changed the offseason trajectory of the entire league. In August, Minnesota was able to finally complete the long-rumored trade of Kevin Love to Cleveland, acquiring Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Thad Young for their trouble. Training camp opened on September 29th, followed by seven preseason games over the next three weeks, and now we’ve arrived at opening night.

A lot happened in six months. Rick Adelman is a Hall of Fame coach, and Kevin Love is a superstar. Both are gone. This season, the franchise is in the hands of Flip Saunders and Ricky Rubio. A lot of the pieces are the same – 9 of the 15 players on roster were here a year ago, including 4/5ths of the starting lineup – yet everything feels different. People are excited about the future rather than worrying about expectations. There’s some passion in the air.

Other than the Kevin Love trade and subsequent introduction of the Timberwolves’ new players at the Minnesota State Fair, the signature moment of the offseason was “Dunks After Dark,” the midnight madness-inspired open scrimmage in Mankato, played in front of a raucous crowd and broadcast live on NBATV. It was the brainchild of Flip Saunders, whose more upbeat, positive outlook is a contrast to the quieter Rick Adelman. The organization, following Flip’s lead, spent August, September and October promoting the Wolves’ new identity – high-flying wings and team defense – in an effort to foster passion within the fan base.

The Wolves’ new leader, according to fellow players and various media thinkpieces on the subject, is Ricky Rubio, known to casual fans for his flair, passing ability and dreadful jump shot and known to more astute ones as a confident, competitive true point guard who plays lockdown defense. With a month to go in the 2013-14 season, he finally admitted some of his spark was gone, that he needed to start having fun playing basketball again. The weight of expectations, the pressure to succeed in what turned out to be Love’s final season, got to him. Free of those burdens, perhaps his passion, the joy we saw as a rookie, will return to his game.

*

“House of Leaves,” a novel by Mark Z. Danielewski, was published in the year 2000 and endures as a genre-defying mindtrip with a dedicated cult following. The main plot of the book centers on the Navidson family, who discovers that the house they’e just moved into measures larger on the inside than it does on the outside. Turns out, one of the closets in the home leads to a labyrinth. Will, the family patriarch, decides the mysterious, cavernous room in the closet must be explored.

Soon, the characters in the book aren’t the only one making their way through a maze; as they dive deeper into the labyrinth, the book itself becomes a maze. Some pages have few words, no words, or words written in various languages that must be translated in order to discover key plot points. The text changes color, font, and whether it’s written backwards or forwards. There are codes to decipher, maps to follow, clues to gather. The picture above gives an idea what I’m talking about.

Eventually, the main character comes to realize that his passion for exploring the labyrinth won’t get him through; he’s got to be patient as well. And passion, often associated positively with love or dedication to a craft, has a more subtle connotation: suffering. Loss. In basketball terms, culture change won’t come without growing pains. Patience, the Latin cousin of the word passion, is necessary to succeed.

Passion and patience. Without further ado, your 2014-15 Minnesota Timberwolves season preview.

1. The Coach

FLIP COACH

I’ve already written extensively about what the Wolves’ new offense will look like – lots of midrange jumpers, with only players who’ve passed Flip’s “system” having the “right” to shoot threes. When Saunders’ offenses operated at their peak, they were beautiful, freeing up wide open midrange looks with regularity. Can he adapt his offensive philosophy to fit the modern game, predicated so heavily on looks from outside? Or will he stick to his guns?

Defensively, there were some exciting things in the preseason. There was a little matchup zone, some traps, and very active defending going on. One of the benefits of having a deep roster (more on that later) is the ability to play a more intense defensive style. Shorter stints with higher energy output could be what Saunders is after.

Zach Harper of A Wolf Among Wolves wrote about Saunders’ late-game effectiveness as a head coach, citing his teams’ good records in close games. A little late-game magic would be a welcome change from last year’s all-too-common fourth-quarter meltdowns. Flip is the most successful coach in franchise history and has been to the Conference Finals four times; he’s got the chops to do the job, and seems eager and ready to get back to the grind of coaching.

2. The Starters: Amaze

STARTERS

Hey, it’s four of the five guys who were starters last season. They’ll be pretty much the same, right?

Well, no, of course not. Thad Young can shoot a little bit from outside, is an above-average passer for a power forward and allows opponents to shoot a high percentage at the rim, so you might think he’s a poor man’s Kevin Love, but what he can’t mimic is Love’s gravity, the way he pulled a defense towards him, freeing up teammates with lanes to the basket.

Spacing is going to be an issue with this group; Kevin Martin is the only above-average three-point shooter of the bunch. Of course, perimeter attempts will be down for the Wolves under Saunders, but even the looks they do try to generate won’t be easy with this personnel group.

In the frontcourt, Pekovic and Young complement one another nicely. Pek ought to see a minutes reduction given the rise of his backup, Gorgui Dieng, which will hopefully keep him fresher, healthier and more effective. Young will do all of the little Thad Young things that make basketball nerds swoon; he’ll defend, he’ll pass the ball, he’ll play smart and he’ll be a leader on and off the floor.

As far as the backcourt goes, Kevin Martin is Kevin Martin, Corey Brewer is Corey Brewer, and it’s unlikely either will change their ways any time soon. Martin will score and knock down free throws but play defense like a swinging saloon door. Brewer will hustle in transition and give a lot of effort on defense, but he’ll also clank threes and gamble for steals a little more often than he should.

The real key is Ricky Rubio. Can he embrace his role as a leader? Can his play back it up? Will he successfully execute Flip’s offense? Expect to see steps in the right direction from Rubio this year – maybe not enough to transform the team from lottery-bound to playoff contender, but enough to make fans and the front office believe he’s a foundational piece for years to come.

3. The Bench: A Maze

A. The Second Unit

BENC

Pour one out for J.J. Barea, whose spot as the second unit point guard was lost to Mo Williams. Barea was bought out the other day and is free to head wherever he’d like (he’s already been linked to Dallas). The Wolves’ dreadful bench from a year ago looks completely different, and it starts with Mo Williams, who is a much better fit as a backup point guard. He’s already taken on a leadership role with some of the younger players and is much more adept at finding the balance between when to look for his own shot and when to be a distributor, something J.J. never quite figured out a season ago.

A healthy Chase Budinger (knock on wood) will also be a major upgrade over the Chase Budinger of 2013-14, who struggled to find his legs (and subsequently his jumper) after having his second knee surgery in as many years. Andrew Wiggins will probably graduate from the bench to a starter’s role at some point (or he may start tonight, and I’ll look stupid) and I’m totally fine making him earn it. His ceiling as a defender is really exciting; the kind of “casual athleticism” and instincts he display is something the Wolves have never had on the wing. Offensively, he’s a work in progress. His jumper needs work and he needs to work on his handle, but the raw ability is undeniable. He’ll learn on the fly, and it’ll be good for him.

The same goes for the other arrival and former number 1 pick from Cleveland. Anthony Bennett. A myriad of health issues teamed up to submarine his rookie season, from sleep and breathing issues, to shoulder problems, knee and even vision problems. Finally healthy and afforded a fresh start, Bennett ought to be granted a long leash as well, empowered to learn on the fly. Again, the glimpses of talent are undeniable, he just needs time and the patience of the coaching staff and fans.

The true “sixth man” on the team is Mo Williams, but Gorgui Dieng will likely be the first man off the bench most nights for the Timberwolves. Expect 20-22 minutes per night for the second-year Louisville product, who averaged 12 points, 11 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game over the final month of 2013-14, breaking out of his spot on the deep bench (he averaged 6 minutes per game prior to that run, with 22 DNP-CDs) to show he belongs in the rotation. His continued development provides the Wolves with insurance for the oft-injured Nikola Pekovic, as well as a nice complement to him in the big man rotation when he’s healthy. Dieng can shoot jumpers a bit and is more of a rim protector than Pek has ever been. Dieng’s arrow is pointing up, and it’s exciting to think about him taking the next step this season.

B. The Deep Bench

DEEP BENCH

 

Speaking of J.J. Barea’s buyout/release: if either Rubio or Williams suffers an injury, Zach LaVine is next in line to get minutes at the point guard position, which is sort of frightening, because he’s extremely raw. Wiggins and Bennett have to learn on the fly, but the team could have some success as they do so, and neither of them play ball-dominant positions. In Flip Saunders’ offense, point guards are extremely important. Hopefully, Ricky and Mo stay healthy so LaVine can be brought along at the proper pace, maybe even as an occasional fill-in for Chase Budinger as the second-unit shooting guard, where he’d have less responsibility. For all of his dunking ability (and my God, the kid can dunk), his jumper is inconsistent, his decision-making skills need work and he needs to put on some weight and muscle in order to hold up on the defensive end.

Shabazz Muhammad deserves more minutes than he’s probably going to get, and I say that as someone who likes his game an irrational amount, so take that for what it’s worth. He completely remade his body in the offseason and is in the best shape of his life, and his game is particularly difficult for opposing shooting guards to handle. He does his best work from the low block and bullies his way into position for his little lefty hook. Rounding out his offensive arsenal and improving on defense ought to be his two main goals this season.

Glenn Robinson III will be inactive most nights, but it was nice to see the Timberwolves hang onto the second-round pick out of Michigan, as he has a little bit of upside as a wing. Robbie Hummel might be the other inactive, but offers plenty of flexibility when he does dress, as he can play three positions (shooting guard and both forward spots) and is a smart team player on both ends of the court. Ronny Turiaf is Ronny Turiaf, and I love him for it, and everyone else should, too. This is the start of his tenth NBA season, and the veteran big man has embraced his role as a mentor to the younger bigs on the roster. He also keeps things, um, light.

The issue with the bench is going to be distributing minutes effectively. Conceivably, there are ten guys with strong cases to be in the rotation (Ricky, Mo, Martin, Bud, Brewer, Wiggins, Thad, Bennett, Pek, Dieng), three veterans who ought to get some regular bench minutes to stay fresh and sharp (Shabazz, Hummel and Turiaf) and two rookies who deserve occasional developmental minutes (LaVine and GRIII). That’s quite a maze for Flip Saunders to manage. This squad seems coachable, and so far everyone is saying the right things. But after a month or two, will the sentiment be the same? The one downside of so much depth is managing minutes, expectations and personalities. That will be the challenge for Flip as he deals with this roster.

4. Passion and patience in the maze, and what a successful season would be…

labyrinth-wallpaper-1-1024x768

It’s not about wins and losses with this group. It’s about players buying in. It’s about finding out what the young guys have, and starting their careers off on the right foot. It’s about veterans leading, rookies following, and everyone adapting their styles to fit the coach’s strategy. It’s about the franchise moving on from the Kevin Love era. It’s about a little bit of excitement being back with the fan base. It’s about patience and passion and taking steps in the right direction. It’s not about wins and losses.

That being said, it’s time to predict wins and losses, as well as a few other tidbits…

5. Predictions

Crystal Ball 2

The Timberwolves will finish with a 34-48 record.

That will be the 12th-best record in the Western Conference.

Utah, Sacramento and the Los Angeles Lakers will finish with fewer wins than the Wolves.

Only the Lakers will shoot fewer threes than the Timberwolves this season.

Mo Williams will play more fourth quarter minutes than Kevin Martin.

Chase Budinger and Corey Brewer will be linked to trade rumors as the deadline approaches.

Neither will end up being dealt.

Zach LaVine will not appear in the D-League this season.

Glenn Robinson III will.

Andrew Wiggins will be the starting small forward by December 15th.

Thad Young will be an absolute treat to cover.

Nikola Pekovic will average under 30 minutes per game.

Ricky Rubio will shoot 40% from the floor.

He’ll lead the team in minutes played.

He’ll finish in the top-5 in assists per game.

He’ll lead the league in steals per game.

The Wolves, as a team, will lead the league in steals.

The Wolves, as a team, will take the most midrange jumpers in the NBA.

The Wolves, as a team, will follow Ricky’s lead, and by the end of the season, we’ll know if he’s a building block for the future or not.

6. Conclusion

If ‘passion’ implies suffering, the Wolves will suffer. They’ll lose more than they’ll win. But if patience is kept in mind, if ‘endurance’ is the aim, if making it through the maze of this oddly deep roster, this mix of veterans and young players, the season will be a success.

house-of-leaves-book


New Impressions of an Old Offense

In my latest over at A Wolf Among Wolves, I break down the above video and discuss how the Timberwolves will shoot a lot of midrange jumpers in 2014-15. Analytical trends in the NBA show that midrange shots are the least efficient in basketball, yet Flip Saunders’ track record as a coach suggests they’ll still take plenty of them. I discuss why it’s somewhat problematic, but far from a tragedy.

You can lead the full thing here.


Where has the time gone?

SYNERGY

 

Seriously, it’s October? Are you serious? I’ve been absolutely terrible about posting here, but with Wolves season just around the corner (their first preseason game is Tuesday night), it’s time I got back to business. Oh, I have been writing plenty of places on the internet, believe me. I even have a new gig (Fear the Sword) that I’ve never posted about, because like I said above, I’m terrible.

That said, I wrote an elegy to mySynergySports over at Hardwood Paroxysm on Friday, and I figured, what better way to update my personal blog than with an elegy. An excerpt:

“Farewell, adieu, auf wiedersehen, goodbye mySynergySports, you ugly though beautiful flower, you pricy but valuable asset, you clunky yet vital tool. The consumer version of you, the kind the common man could afford, no longer exists. We were unceremoniously informed of your demise via an error message, a cold, impersonal greeting awaiting us as we hoped to scout NBA games via your glorious, laborious software.”

Check out the full thing here.

And I promise, it won’t be nearly a full month until I post next.


Make or Miss Podcast with Seth Partnow

Radio Mic

Last week, I joined fellow Hardwood Paroxysm member Seth Partnow on his ‘Make or Miss’ podcast to talk about the Kevin Love trade from a Minnesota perspective, as well as to break down how Love will do in Cleveland and where the Timberwolves will go from here. Seth is a talented writer whose ‘Wire’-themed blog is a must-read, and whose podcast books some seriously awesome guests, so it was an honor to be invited. You can listen to the full thing right here.

 


Freaks and Fried Alligator

Jerseys 2

 

Despite my disdain for consumerism, large crowds, unruly children and price gouging, I made my way to the Minnesota State Fair today because that’s where the Timberwolves were introducing four of their newest acquisitions: Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, Thaddeus Young and Zach LaVine. I wrote about the experience over at A Wolf Among Wolves:

“People began packing themselves around the stage nearly an hour prior to the start of the show. The atmosphere was jubilant and peppy – fans cheered loudly for each of the four players (loudest of all for Wiggins) and lingered long after they were done speaking, taking selfies, asking for autographs and hollering praise to Flip for getting the deal done. It was certainly an interesting environment for an introductory press conference – the Fair’s enormity shrinking for an hour into a very intimate, uncontrolled setting. A few barely audible catcalls arose from the crowd and drew chuckles from the guys onstage. Those awkward moments aside, today was a very positive day for everyone involved. The weather was perfect, the Wolves garnered some much-needed buzz, and Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, Thaddeus Young and Zach LaVine got their first taste of Minnesota’s atmosphere.”

You can read the full thing right here.

 


Get to the Point (Guard): LeBron’s Search for a One

Bron and Kyrie

 

Today at Hardwood Paroxysm I discussed LeBron James’ affinity for point guards, and how playing without an elite one the past few years may have contributed to his decision to head back to Cleveland (where he will team up with Kyrie Irving). An excerpt:

“(T)he decision to move to Cleveland wasn’t motivated solely by 2015 title hopes. It’s possible this was LeBron’s last move, and he wanted to find a place where he can age well. Having a young, accomplished ball handler around – someone else who can take the ball into the teeth of the defense and soak up the abuse handed out in the lane – could aid in LeBron’s self-preservation. Rather than doing the driving and dishing, he can be free to be a spot-up shooter, a post-up master, or a devastating off-ball cutter. All of those options are much less taxing than gaining a full head of steam and charging into the paint, over and over again, night after night after night.”

Check out the full thing right here.


The Evolving Nature of NBA Ownership

TAYLOR

 

For Hardwood Paroxysm, I dove headfirst into the world of NBA ownership. Over the past decade, half the league’s teams have changed hands, and many of the new faces in the fraternity of owners have backgrounds in investments, hedge fund management and private equity firms. Do these teams have any advantages over franchises whose owners made their millions in more traditional fields?

That probably depends on the influence you believe owners have in shaping their teams, which can vary from situation to situation. For some, buying a team is a vanity purchase. They’re interested in the social status (and prospective profits) of owning a franchise rather than the day-to-day minutiae of running one. Think of Glen Taylor in Minnesota, who is content to hire someone from within the state and turn the reins completely over to them (see McHale, Kevin and Saunders, Flip). Some are interested, but understand it’s best to hire smart people and get out of the way. Peter Holt and Micky Arison, owners of the Spurs and Heat, respectively, fall into that category. Some owners are aggressively meddlesome. Dan Gilbert made his money in mortgage lending, a numbers-driven, future-oriented business, and his tenure as the owner of the Cavaliers has been uneven, to say the least. The league’s only banking magnate, Robert Sarver, has had somewhat of a checkered history since he bought the Suns in 2004. Tom Gores has a less than sterling reputation, and just empowered advanced stats-skeptic Stan Van Gundy to run the show in Motown.

A few members of the NBA’s circle of “investment” owners have had success. Clay Bennett hired Sam Presti away from San Antonio, where the former Rhodes scholar candidate had worked his way up the organizational power chart, to run the Sonics/Thunder, who are now one of the most successful and profitable teams in the league. Leslie Alexander, who made his millions on Wall Street, hired and empowered Daryl Morey, who’s now the face (for better or worse) of analytics in the NBA. Other situations are more mixed – Boston employs a basketball lifer as its chief decision maker (Danny Ainge) but employs a coach famous for embracing advanced statistics (Brad Stevens). The Sixers’ primary decision maker, Sam Hinkie, is a former Bain Capital employee and Stanford alumnus who apprenticed under Morey, but his vision is far from complete (or even taking shape). Joe Lacob’s first GM hire was a former agent. The Milwaukee situation is too fresh to judge.

Despite the mixed results of the group to this point, having an owner with an investment background is certainly appealing. For one thing, they’re probably used to taking the long view. Secondly, in a salary cap league, managing a finite amount of resources in an effort to put a competitive team on the floor without risking your future is paramount. Owners who made their millions in other ways can certainly understand and appreciate these values as well; it’s less a dichotomy between members of the “old guard” and members of the new, and more a prism.

The post is somewhat lengthy, but totally worth your time (would I lie to you?). Check it out by clicking here.


Sticking to Basketball

Reflections on Twitter protocol.

TWITTER

Photo credit: Shawn Campbell, wired.com

My name is William Bohl. I blog about the NBA.

An important part of being a blogger is using social media, particularly Twitter, to promote what I’ve written, connect with fellow writers to collaborate on projects, and find elite basketball minds to admire and try to emulate. It’s a forum to make jokes, learn about current events and pop culture, connect with like-minded people (occasionally), politely disagree with respectable opponents (rarely) and get frustrated at irrationally angry people attacking something I’ve written (all the damn time).

Twitter is how the crew at A Wolf Among Wolves (the site through which I’ve gained a press credential to attend games) found me in the first place. I’m not saying I’ve “made it”, or anything, but because of Twitter, I went from writing about basketball based on watching games on television to attending games for free and getting to talk to players. I get to take a peek behind the curtain. That’s pretty damn cool. Plus, I get to try to tell truths about basketball, which is a niche interest, a light-hearted pastime. If I’m wrong, it doesn’t matter. I try to find the truth without consequence. I’m a lucky guy.

I’ve always had two rules for Twitter – first, keep things positive (which is tough, sometimes, because I’m a hopeless cynic) and second, try to stick to basketball. I’ve found people dislike negativity (imagine that) and enjoy following someone who generally hovers around a particular topic. News reporters gain followers interested in the news, sportswriters gain followers interested in sports, pastors gain followers interested in religion, and so on, and so forth. A bit of variation is acceptable, of course. People hop out of their respective areas of expertise to tweet about the Super Bowl, or the Grammys, or Game of Thrones, and no one bats an eye. But obsessing over topics outside of your “lane” will earn you criticism and a mass exodus of followers.

Losing followers is certainly the most trivial aspect of what I’m about to discuss, but the reason I open with it is that it reflects a pervasive mindset that is harmful to public discourse and well-rounded thinkers, in my opinion. Twitter is not only about sharing; it’s about being shared with. Despite the fact that no two feeds are the same, when big events happen, most of us end up in the same place – talking about them. Despite the fact that no two lives are the same, when big events happen, they touch us all, if we’re inclined to pay attention.

Such an event is happening now in Ferguson, Missouri, and I’m inclined to pay attention to it. But as a white, middle class American male, the struggles, needs and concerns of most other groups of people, especially minorities, are foreign to me. As a white, middle class American male, I am part of the largest, most privileged subset of people who has ever lived on this earth. As a white, middle class American male, I feel it’s my job to read as much as I can, and to listen, and to understand that I am tourist perusing the struggles of others, and that no matter what I try to do, no matter how much I empathize, no matter what books I read or podcasts I listen to, I may never fully understand them.

Exploring that alien nature is a worthwhile task, and occasionally, God help me, I do it on Twitter. I listen. I absorb as much as I can, from a variety of perspectives and sources, and the result has been a great deal of soul-searching and anxious hand-wringing, hoping the tensions ease and justice prevails. But I don’t just listen. I talk. I tweet. I don’t just stick to basketball, because a Twitter full of insular writers and thinkers sticking strictly to their self-defined specialties isn’t utilizing Twitter to its fullest potential.

I’m not saying there isn’t a time and place for getting out of the way and letting experts be experts. A madhouse of rapid, uneducated reaction doesn’t help, either. But Twitter has been a powerful tool in the spread of news surrounding Michael Brown’s death and the aftermath in and around Ferguson. Watching the murder of unarmed black teenager, the subsequent cries for justice and brutal (and bungled) police response all unfold via social media has me thinking about racial tension, the American institution of white supremacy and minority suppression, the proper role of police, why white people have to make everything about themselves (like I’m doing right now, but I have a point, I swear), and the nature of mass communications, all of which are big subjects, and deserve hearty exploration by anyone who hopes to live a fully compassionate human life.

I’ve seen many of my writer friends comment that it’s tough to write about basketball at the moment, it seems so trivial compared to what’s happening in the world, to which I’d like to reply a) basketball is always trivial, it’s a game and b) explore that. Basketball is a mere pastime. Sure, they’d like to make a career writing about it – so would I – but when something heavier comes along and alters your perceptions, follow it. Let it change you.

And I’m saying that fully aware that I’m writing about how the death of an unarmed 18-year-old African-American at the hands of a white cop is changing the way I view Twitter, which sounds absurd. But the role of social media in how we learn about Ferguson and how we comment on it is relevant. It affects our minds. It affects our lives. Even me, a white guy from a small town in Wisconsin who now lives in the Twin Cities suburbs, who gets to cover basketball games, who has never experienced discrimination or violence firsthand. I’m not saying I have it figured out. All I can say is that the past week has changed me, which might sound condescending or absurd, but it’s the honest truth.

Not all search for truth, or the closest thing any of us can come to knowing truth, comes without consequence. I’ve been living and writing in a happy bubble of basketball myopia. But I believe if we lightened our sensitivity to alternate viewpoints and opened our minds, refused to let lanes box us into corners and opened our Twitter feeds, it would lead to all of us being better thinkers. Use Twitter in the search for truth, to challenge preconceived notions, rather than as a tool for mining tidbits of reinforcement or pure escapism. Suffice it to say, my rules about sticking to basketball and remaining positive are beginning to look silly. Be as authentic online as you’d like to be in person.

Maybe I’m overstating Twitter’s role in the search for becoming better, but considering how much time we all spend with that little blue bird, I firmly believe it’d help if we all got serious about what we take in, and more understanding about what comes out, we’d change ourselves. Then maybe instead of writing about it on Twitter (or personal blogs, like I’m doing) we’d mobilize and make an effort to change the real world.

You know, the real world? That’s the thing all those people in Ferguson are tweeting about.


Long Live the 1953-54 Minneapolis Lakers!

1953-54 NBA World Champion Minneapolis Lakers

 

 

Once a week, the writers at Hardwood Paroxysm collaborate on an article for FanSided, our parent website. This week’s topic was our favorite basketball teams of all-time, and wanting to honor Minnesota basketball history (while simultaneously being cheeky and unique,) I chose to write about the last NBA champion the Land of 10,000 Lakes produced: the 1953-54 Lakers.

An excerpt from the piece:

(F)rom 1948 until 1954, Minnesota was home to one of the greatest dynasties in the history of professional sports: George Mikan’s Minneapolis Lakers. The 6’10, 245 pound giant from Joliet, IL led the Lakers to five titles in six seasons, dominating the NBA’s early years in Ruth-ian fashion. He was first team all-league six times, a four time scoring champion, a two time rebounding champion, led the league in defensive win shares five times and averaged 24 points and 14 rebounds at a time when the average team scored fewer than 80 points per game.

The 1953-54 season was Mikan and the gang’s last hurrah, and oh, what a gang he had. I mean, check out these names: Slater Martin. Vern Mikkelson. Whitey Skoog. Pep Saul. Jim Holstein. Dick Schnittker. (Read that last one again. Read it out loud. SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS. DICK. SCHNITTKER.)  It’s not just the hilarious old-timey names that make me love the team – four members of the ’53-54 squad were eventually inducted into the Hall of Fame (Mikan, Mikkelson, Martin and Jim Pollard) as well as their coach (John Kundla).

Here’s a video of the Lakers playing the Syracuse Nationals in Game 1 of the 1954 Basketball World Series (yes, that’s seriously what they called it):

Check out the full article right here.


In Defense of Kevin Love (Yuck)

Olympics: Basketball-Men's Preliminary-TUN vs USA

 

The other day, news broke that current-but-soon-to-be-former-Timberwolf Kevin Love withdrew from USA Basketball’s FIBA World Cup roster due to uncertainty over his future. Basically, an injury would just about halt any ongoing trade talks, which could affect Love’s ultimate goals of being traded to a winner and signing a lucrative extension with them. Makes sense, right? Well, that didn’t stop some Love critics from firing away at him:

“Usually, I’d be content to let it go, but even Bill Simmons, perhaps the most widely read NBA writer out there, found time to pile on Love. Of course, it came out after the fact that Love’s withdrawal was the result of a mutual agreement between the Timberwolves and Love – but the fact that such popular basketball minds missed the point, and were ready to lay it all at Love’s feet, has prompted me to speak up in his defense.”

You can read the full post over at Hardwood Paroxysm by clicking here.