It seems like all that’s left to do is shake on it.
With news breaking of the NBA and its players finally reaching a tentative agreement that ended the lockout, it’s time to move past the mysterious station of limbo in which we all floated in for so long.
Once the Dallas Mavericks were named NBA Champions back in May, every fan of the NBA slipped into a state of comatose; your faith and fandom in the NBA stopped but time kept cruising on without any regrets. Days passed, then months but still no deal was in place. Billionaire owners and millionaire players sat at long, mahogany executive tables bickering over who deserves more of our hard-earned money. It was everywhere. It was sickening. But, most of all, there was nothing we could do about it.
But it’s all over with. The NBA season — or at least a part of it — has been saved and we can all go back to enjoying the sport we love. I’m not going to go through the ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ of every concession on the new collective bargaining agreement because, frankly, the CBA is as complex and confusing as the show Lost — I’m only starting season 4 on Netflix; don’t spoil it for me.
One thing we can agree on is the fact that the Timberwolves are officially back in business but they have some lofty expectations to live up to.
While players were gone, basking on the beaches of Southern California or hosting charity games at local high school gyms, the Timberwolves’ place in the Target Center was shifted. A new basketball power came to order — not like the Wolves were much of a power to begin with. The Minnesota Lynx defied all odds and went on to post the WNBA’s best record of the season and grabbed a championship trophy while they’re at it. The Lynx, just like the Wolves, have been historically bad for their entire existence. But crafty roster moves — I still miss you, Katie Smith — and the luck of the draft (Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus, the list really goes on) put them in position to break from their slump and grab the attentions of thousands in the greater Minneapolis area.
Just like the Lynx, the Wolves now have a roster that seems primed for a breakout season. The additions of Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams stabilize two positions the Wolves have failed to get consistent production from for years. Kevin Love is finally recognized as a top-class player amongst his peers. Depth, something Wolves fans know little about, now prowls the bench with veteran presence in Luke Ridnour, Martell Webster and even newcomer Brad Miller.
One reason the Lynx succeeded this season was because of the emergence of the once-forgotten Seimone Augustus. The former first overall pick has had an injury-riddled career that never shined like many had thought it would. She rose above all expectations this season and finally came to form, leading the Lynx to the championship. I find a striking resemblance between Augustus and Wolves’ forward Michael Beasley — And no, it’s not the hairdos. Both Augustus and Beasley are natural-born scorers. From anywhere on the court, they find a way to put the ball in the basket. What I saw in Augustus that was different from year’s past was her mental focus that helped her ignore the mere thought of getting hurt or failing. Beasley needs to find that focus as well. If he can soar past the thought of failing or getting hurt on any given play, he may finally have the chance to fully focus on the game and, in turn, breakout and crush the expectations he had after being chosen second overall in the 2008 NBA draft.
There’s one way the Timberwolves may be able to exceed their lowly expectations next season and that is Rick Adelman. The soon-to-be Hall of Famer enters his first season as the Timberwolves coach with a very special opportunity in Minnesota. A young roster, so talented it’ll make you salivate, needs a strict decision maker that will teach the game and discipline when needed.
Remember back to when David Kahn and the Wolves had Kurt Rambis hanging on a string. His future with the franchise was uncertain but neither side wanted to make advancements. Of course, the saga turned into the classic Timberwolves screw-up and we were portrayed to the basketball world as clumsy and flat-out stupid. Once Rambis was officially let go, the Wolves were lucky to toss such prestigious names into the drawing: Sam Mitchell, Larry Brown, Don Nelson. But one name, in particular, stuck out as the clear-cut choice, and that was Adelman. Minnesota sports, in general, usually have a difficult time choosing the right coach — Just ask the Vikings, for starters.
Adelman was officially announced and it was a day of rejoicement. For once, a professional sport in the state of Minnesota made the right decision on a coach. Thanks to that decision, even with the inexperienced roster, the season is just that much brighter than in years past because they have that passionate leader, poised to make basketball relevant again in the Twin Cities.
Speaking of the Twin Cities, have you ever seen Target Field? Or perhaps visited St. Paul’s Winter Carnival? The Twin Cities could very well be a hot spot for incoming free agents. Kahn worked his magic last year convincing David Lee to visit as well as Rudy Gay — even though he de-boarded the plane after the Grizzlies called and offered him stacks on stacks of cash to stay. The Wolves have serious cash to spend and a guy who’s not afraid to spend it. In year’s past, we’ve seen owner Glen Taylor hesitate to dish out the money for a winning team, but with the NBA’s economic status in dire trouble, it’s now or never on deciding when to go big.
It’s an exciting time to be an NBA fan, and a specially exciting time to be a Timberwolves fan. There will be a lot more analysis coming, but let’s just leave it with this: How excited are you for basketball to be back?