Did you see it? That star shining brightly from due east.
Northern Star? Perhaps. Likely though it has something to do with a constellation named Wiggins or Zach. You see, the All Star game is in the books and even though the Wolves didn’t have a player on the Sunday night main stage at Madison Square Garden, the young Wolves left an impression in the city that never sleeps.
I couldn’t have enjoyed Valentine’s Day anymore that I did. Hey, I love my wife and yes, we chose a very low-key V-Day at home just hanging with the family (after a long week of business of business travel here and there) but her gift of basketball/couch/popcorn/AllStarSaturday was heaven to me.
Here’s why. If you have been watching the on-court renovation work at 600 First (AKA Target Center) in Downtown MPLS, you know the young guys are improving and learning mightily each and every night. For a few of the players, their show time was this past weekend in NYC. And the vibe they left is still resonating from Philly to Phoenix, Boston to the Bay Area and every NBA city in between.
In the Friday night feast of Rising Stars, it was great to see Andrew Wiggins roll with the MVP honors. #22 was sensational! The broadcasters went on and on about him, the game A-Wigg has the delight of social media and fans watching worldwide were glowing with remarks and it all shines brightly on the possibilities here. Led by Wiggins.
For as much as I enjoyed Friday, I couldn’t have been prouder to be a Wolves fan than Saturday. OK, first of all, save the attacks you “casuals” and grumps. I cut-my-teeth as a journalist and make my living in the media, but I’m also a fan and have been through the thinnest of thin and the very lean losing days with the Wolves. It’s OK to enjoy improvement and these young players are real. They will make their mark in the game. And for as great as Wiggins was, fellow first round draft pick Zach LaVine might have left the biggest impression.
His Saturday stage was a monster. Just think about it. The much revered Dunk Contest and all those past winners from Jordan, Spud, Richardson and Nance. Kemp to Kenny Smith and all those dunkers from A-to-Zach. LaVine walked on to the Barclay Center court (with his opening Rap Pack right in tow) and looked ready to jump out of the ceiling.
LaVine was magnificent! OMG! I was glued to the TV and thru the monster long TV commercial breaks (Respectfully, if I ever have to watch another State Farm N-B-A commercial I’ll move to, er…Winnipeg). Zach’s attack was splendid and the dunks very LIVE! The announcers were in love with LaVine and for good reason; he was the best of the bunch. Even as Victor Oladipo was running low on gas, Zach’s tank was topped and I loved how teammates Shabazz and A-Wigg helped in the dissemination of his dunks!
It couldn’t happen to a better kid. He spent just a brief amount of time at UCLA and grew up an NBA fan and a Sonics fan. From Gary Payton to Kevin Durant, Zach knew he had the game to get to an NBA career. His work Saturday only cemented it all.
I’ve liked him from day one and cheer for him nightly. I first met Zach on the morning of the Wolves State Fair appearances and he couldn’t have been better. Chatty, articulate and friendly, Zach showed a wide range of people (he’d never met before) that this was the place he wanted to be. Not Miami or Atlanta, not in Clipperland or with LeBron. Minnesota baby and man did he, as they now say, represent! Zach was C-notin’ the slam dunk like never before. 100’s here, 100’s there. Zach expected perfection and delivered. Heck, the one and only Doctor J (Julius Erving) smiled when Zach peeled his Wolves top and donned his Michael Jordan “Space Jam” jersey before his first dunk. BIG shoes to fill and Zach didn’t disappoint. Not since Isaiah Rider 20 years ago has a Wolves player won the slam dunk. How cool was that?! I’ll tell ya. VERY.
So now, with hardware in tow, the youngster’s wing west to get back to work after a good but busy couple of weeks, who knows how the season will roll to the finish. Trades turned the Wolves roster last week with Mo Williams and Troy Daniels off to NOLA and coming in, Guard Gary Neal and forward Adreian Payne from Atlanta. More deals could be coming but it’s my hope the roster stays dotted with the veterans who make these kids better. The Kevin Martin’s and Thad Young’s, you know. The youth will be served soon but learning from a line-up that has vets who know how to win is SO important.
And you can tell the Wolves are starting to get it…to blend together and win. Beating Memphis, busting Miami, derailing Detroit then rallying to nearly upset Golden State and doing while most thought they could not. I’m excited to see what Ricky Rubio, Martin, Big Pek and the young guns can muster over the final months.
And I’ll say it again; the best thing that could have happened to team Timberwolves was the trade of Kevin Love that brought in Wiggins. The stars are shining brightly. They flickered in the final days of the NBA’s first half, they did in NYC this weekend and they’ll continue into the spring. Just watch.
Fan Jam via e-mail to SIMONSSAYS!
This from FarAwayFan Chris:
To start I have to admit that before this season I was not a wolves fan. In fact I was not really an nba fan. I live in Canada and started following Andrew Wiggins when he was at Kansas, then to The Cavs then the wolves. I have watched most of the wolves games. If I lived in Min I would get seasons tickets. It has been facinating to watch the devlopment of this young team. Being in a rebuild I can understand fans who take a wait and see attitude. But watching the rebuild has been fun. Being a newbie to the pro game it looks to me what the wolves need for the future is a really good backup point guard and a good rebounder on the off boards who can also play def. What are you thoughts on what they need to become grea. Cheers Chris
Chris, thanks for taking the time to write and I’ll sum it up in two words. Patience and Work. I’m convinced Executive/Coach Flip Saunders has the right idea on how to sculpt this piece of clay. He has Wiggins and young talented players for his foundation and he’s still working on the bricks to put into place. If they are patient with that side of it and bring in players who’ll work to make it great, the playoff drought will end and be a lazy afterthought for all those who have nothing better to talk about. I’ve seen it first hand. Next!
Big Fan Nate has this thought: Serious Twolves fan here, wondering your thoughts on Anthony Bennett's improved play over the last couple of game and his potential as a future starting power forward for the wolves. Also, what's your opinion on the Shabazz - Wiggins pairing on the wing.
Nate, great note….As for A-Bennett, not sure. Wants to be an NBA super star but has to find consistency. He shows great flashes and then other times, is nowhere to be found. If he is solid, night in and night out and does it all the time in practice, he’s in. First things first. Bennett will have to survive the upcoming NBA trade deadline. I like 15/22 as well. NO complaints there.
Team Flip is continues to be on the mend and I still insist that’s a good thing. That’s it for now. Spring’s closing in and until next week, 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 the casual fan is allowed), drop me a note with your thoughts. Write me at rod@gameONtvMN.com.
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.
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