It’s been a magical early fall in Minnesota. We are making a smooth transition from what little summer we had into fall and in time, we’ll be freezing off our rumps. The smooth transition label works for our winter pro sports teams too. Congratulations to the NHL Wild as they make their home opener look easy against Colorado. And for the Wolves, I can’t wait for our pre-season look at the lads.
I’m excited because the Wolves have won in the transition from Kevin Love to this Run Bunch. Fans get it. A guy doesn’t want to be here, let him go. If you recall, that was the mood when Kevin Garnett was belly-aching about playing for a “contender” and was shipped to Boston. This Wolves team, I believe, will surprise many in the NBA. The stockpiled from the Love deal is already meshing well with the veterans on hand and that will continue to grow.
I was thinking about this and over a brief conversation with my buddy “Hoops” the other day at Rod’s Coffee Shop in Plymouth. I was telling Hoops that I had the good fortune to cover Coach Saunders when he had that Western Conference powerhouse of KG, Latrell Sprewell, Sam Cassell, Fred Hoiberg and so many more. Hoops barked at me, “Dude, this ain’t that team. What are you getting’ at”? I told him, “Hoops, don’t end your sentence with a preposition…didn’t you take English. AND as for the Wolves, Saunders gets it. He’s excited about this team, this time and THIS CHALLENGE.” Hoops was silent.
I tell you, Flip just might surprise many of his detractors. Sure and certainly, there are always those who won’t be convinced but Coach Saunders is a good fit to blend these immensely talented young players with the solid veterans he has on the team. For those who scoff at the “solid veterans”, allow me to offer this.
Before last year’s NBA Finals, who’d heard much of Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard or Tiago Splitter? Growing up, I cut my teeth on some of the greatest NBA “teams” ever. I remember “role” playing veterans like in Portland’s amazing 1977 run with Bill Walton leading the way with Bobby Gross, Maurice Lucas, Lionel Hollins and Head Coach Dr. Jack Ramsay. In 1979, my Seattle Super Sonics won it all with Gus Williams, Dennis Johnson, former Wolves assistant and Sonics center Jack Sikma and bench players “Downtown” Freddy Brown (from Iowa) and John Johnson.
The list is long of NBA teams that grow and prosper with the recipe that the Wolves are now using. It’s THE way to do it. The Spurs just keep stocking their basketball cupboard with players you have never heard of. You know Kwame Brown before you ever heard of that man named Splitter. Right?!
The point is, give this team time. Exercise some patience. Sometimes it’s tough being a fan. I get it. But remember, this recipe certainly worked for the Wild over the past few seasons. I do recall when hockey fans wanted to run former GM Doug Risebrough into exile for questionable trades and fan disenchantment was tangible.
Last year, the Wild mix of youth and savvy Vet’s began being served on the “X” ice, it showed up on the playoffs and it’s being counted on heavily for the team’s Stanley Cup hopes. I see more similarities than I do anything else between our two winter pro teams here.
So, back at RCS (Rod’s Coffee Shop), Hoops is playing hard to get. My buddy wants little to do with, what he calls, my goofy examples. One reason, he never saw the domination of those Blazers teams. The breathtaking Walton rebound then laser-guided outlet passes for an easy fast break bucket. Hoops wasn’t blessed to see the king of the now-3-point-bomb, “Downtown” Fred Brown. All net. Sadly, Hoops knows names like Trump and Kardashian before Lonnie Shelton. Number-8 was basketball’s Berlin Wall when it came to setting a pick.
I just know you have your options. Gripe or get on board. Allow the man (that being Coach Flip) to guide and sculpt, to X and O to his heart’s content and let’s see if that self-proclaimed “King of Being Hard on Point Guards” can find Ricky Rubio’s shot and more leadership from JJ Barea. You go Flip, get Wiggy-with-it and let Thad be Thor in the paint. I’m hoping for fewer injuries, more upsets, a last January Wolves Cav-feast on Kevin Love & LBJ.
I choose to leap, a little dreamy and optimistic, into this upcoming NBA season. I might even listen to my daughter’s Taylor Swift “Shake it Off” download for a little if some inspiration. I might even sit with the crazy Wolves Army (uh…maybe).
Bring it on. SimonsSays is ready. Are you? Just remember that this IS a new start. This is not patchwork stuff. Flip’s firing new material and it should be fun. Young and athletic. Players eager to show the other teams what they passed on.
This is what new seasons are supposed to look like. And it’s always good to have this time with you each and every week! Enjoy the arrival of fall and ready or not, basketball is here again! Keep that glass half full and keep your GameON!
SimonsSays on TV/PODcast:
GameON! and Rod Simons are winners of a 2014 Emmy award for show host! It’s exciting news as GameON! starts its new season and continues to showcase the Timberwolves like no other broadcast show in the region. GameON! is powered by Budweiser and is broadcast in High Definition and can be found on ITunes, on demand via our new GameON! App (free and available for Apple/Android) and online @ www.gameontvmn.com. There is always a Wolves update on my TV show, GameON! Don’t miss an episode of the Emmy winning GameON! @ 10am this Sunday morning on FOX’s My29 and throughout the weekend regionally on MidCo Sports Net.
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We talk Wolves. Every day. High’s & lows. We’re there because we are fans, just like you! Keep your GameON! See you soon!