For a basketball fan that follows a struggling team, you live for these moments. Out of the blue, seriously NOT expected and then, poof, your team is not only posturizing ESPN’s nightly coverage but the naysayers have nothing to say. Silent. Lips of blue.
OK. Lots of real estate covered in the opening paragraph but suffice it to say I’m still Mo-tatting from the 52-dropped by Mo Williams the other night in Indiana.
I’m happy about it on several levels. Some might surprise you. The first is obvious; it ended that heinous 15-game losing streak. And unlike the media types to try to convince you that it’s good to set a losing record and it’s good to lose to get the top pick, it’s not. Losing sucks. Plain and simple. And regardless where you sit with each and every pro team (college or high school as well) in our great state, to a player, they will tell you why they agree with me. Losing is NOT an option and it’s great to see that streak bite the dust. And by indicating that losing is OK, it proves to the world and anyone who’ll listen that the only game you ever had was video and not one on court, ice, grass or anything off a couch. Let’s make that vividly clear.
Secondly, good for Mo! Along with Thad Young, Mo was my favorite Wolves off-season grab. I’ve followed his game and I’m one of those hoopaholics who stays up for late West Coast games so I spent many nights watching Mo-Will work over the years. Of all the T’Wolves players, losing affects him the most. That’s because he’s been there, he knows how to win and he wants that to be on his calling card here. Mo wants to make it work in Minnesota. Mo had free agent options and he came to Minnesota to make a difference, not to lose.
If you missed it, google those highlights and sit back to enjoy. Mo shot 19 of 33, missed only five 3-pointers in 11-shots. Importantly, Mo made it count down the stretch when the Wolves needed him. 37 points in the second half. As the guys say, dude also had 7-assists and 4-rebounds. He just wasn’t cherry picking and waiting for the ball. For those of you who just play video games and watch to criticize, “cheery picking” is an old school phrase for a player who just wants to shoot the ball.
But with those two points, this is my most telling. To see that impressive hard fought win shuts up so many so-called basketball know-it-all’s who think the Wolves are tanking or “losers”. It’s great to have the opportunity to have been around the game for so many years because you see, first hand, that those descriptions couldn’t be farther from the truth. To see how losing affects these guys is crazy. They make all this money and an outcome (in a game that many consider to be a business more than a game) can mess with their heads regardless isn’t easy to understand. Unless you consider that they DO give a darn. They actually do want to win and hate to lose. Just as they did in college. As they played in high school and junior high and AAU games. Even more that competitive you and competitive me. It’s also their job. They hate to lose. The fire still burns.
Mo reminded many that basketball, while not on fire here, has a flicker and on any given night, they can get it done. I mentioned some of these points on the radio a day after the Indiana win and a listener wanted none of it. Caller said, “You and I may watch the same games but we sure don’t see it the same. Must be your free press pass, they (Wolves) are losers and the only win they will get is possibly a top lottery pick. Always have been, always will be. Even if you can’t see it. Your opinion is weak”.
Friends and family who hear those shots recoil for me and often brim with anger at the caller’s tone but it doesn’t bother me. I’m around the team, I’ve watched the NBA for years and having covered all our pro teams and leagues, I understand a rebuild and know a “tanking” when I see it. This ain’t a tanking. Mo just took that nonsense off the table. The NBA’s a remarkable showcase of hard work, skill and determination. From my youngest days of seeing an aging Wilt, Willis Reed, my first in arena peek at Abdul-Jabbar, then covering Magic, Bird, “His Airness” MJ, all those Sonics and Wolves and “King” James (apologies for too many greats left out), these guys make opponents better. The “quit” theory is bogus.
As for the caller’s points, it’s true the Wolves are losing but losers, they are not. So, are the Knicks “losers”?! One of the games most celebrated and respected franchises is really hurting with the league’s worst record and a fan base in shock. Will the Knicks stay down? Don’t put a large chunk of change on it. Will the Wolves? I wouldn’t buy that either.
There are a lot of reasons to like what “could be” for the Wolves. It does start with A as in Andrew Wiggins and many of the parts will come together. But that’s where Coach/GM/player finding guy Flip Saunders will have to get better fits and stronger pieces to surround Wiggins. Some are coming into focus. The team remains porous on Defensive and many nights they are anemic on offense. Too many valuable veterans remain injured and useless to the team and fans, many who feel alienated by one more losing season, don’t know what to do.
On that one night, in the midst of a brutally cold January Minnesota winter, there was a flicker from that campfire out back that you thought was stone cold out. What does it mean? It likely does not mean a swift turnaround and 10-game winning streak. But it shows one thing far more important. The guys driving the ship haven’t run aground. They haven’t quit.
And in the eye of this stormy season that’s most important. We’ll get thru it and be better next season. As I say weekly to you and those who read, I really believe it. I’ve seen it and will see it again here.
Next week (and I’m already working on it) all your recent letters and emails to me regarding Team Timberwolves. Fascinating reads and I’m grateful for your time to contribute. We’ll spend the blog discussing, one on one, and figuring it out our way!
Until then, keep your Game ON! and do not be a “casual” fan. Stay on board. Keep the faith! See you on TV!
What’s on your mind?!
If you are a serious Timberwolves fan (and even casuals are allowed), drop me a note with your thoughts. In fact, the best note before the end of the holiday season gets tickets to a game, on me! We’ll talk Wolves tip-off to the final buzzer. Write me at rod@gameONtvMN.com.
A big honor for Lynx All Star Maya Moore. Following a summer in which she helped lead USA Basketball to the 2014 FIBA World Championship gold medal and was named MVP, Maya is the 2014 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year.
Moore started in all six games and averaged a team-high 15.3 points per game to go along with 6.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 24.3 minutes per contest to help the USA Basketball Women’s World Championship Team to a 6-0 record and the gold medal at the FIBA World Championship from Sept. 27–Oct. 5 in Istanbul, Turkey. The win qualified the USA for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.
The 2014 gold medal was Maya’s second-consecutive FIBA World Championship title, and her sixth gold medal overall with USA Basketball. USA Basketball teams with Moore on the roster have combined for a 56-2 all-time record.
This is cool! The Wolves have launched a new mobile app that gives fans instant access to exclusive Wolves content and live game coverage. Fans can download the free app on iOS and Android devices by visiting Timberwolves.com/mobile.
The official Timberwolves app offers fans the ability to follow live game content including the score, stats, shot charts and related social media conversations via the Game Tracker. The app also allows fans to seamlessly check the team’s schedule, roster and conference standings. Fans on the go can stay engaged and updated with the team by accessing Wolves articles, photo galleries and original videos through the app. New features including ticket sales integrations, fan experience modules, exclusive membership content and more will be added to the app in the near future. The app is another step the Wolves have taken to accommodate the continued growth of mobile web use. Last season, the Wolves launched their re-designed website that is optimized for mobile viewing.
Tune in for Twolves!
Timberwolves games will be on radio for the 2014-15 NBA season and all 82 regular season games can be heard on News Radio 830 WCCO-AM, while La Mera Buena 107.5 and La Neta 95.9 will carry 15 games.
This is the Wolves’ fourth season on their flagship station, News Radio 830 WCCO-AM. Alan Horton returns for his eighth season as the Wolves play-by-play announcer. Horton will team up with studio host John Focke to produce 30-minute pre- and post-game shows that will be featured on-air and streamed online at www.wcco.com for every game.
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.
GameON! offers in-depth interviews with the top players, great food, sports newsmakers and we get you inside your favorite teams (including the Wolves). We’d love for you to “like” us on Facebook @ GameOnTvMN. Drop me a note, Rod@go963MN.com
GameON! is also seen in North & South Dakota and Western Minnesota on MidCo SportsNet several times a weekend. We reserve the right to use your e-mails here in SimonsSays @ Timberwolves.com. You can now get SimonsSays in new PODcast form with insight/input from fans just like you and exclusive player interviews! Keep an eye out for SimonsSays PODcast @ Timberwolves.com each and every week.
And last but not least, please catch Rod throughout the day on GO96.3 FM. Rod keeps you inside the team with This Is Twins Territory & the signature Prep Playbook which can also be found @ www.go963MN.com.
We talk Wolves. Every day. High’s & lows. We’re there because we’re fans, just like you! Keep your GameON! See you soon!