As a sports fan in Minnesota now days it’s easy to fall into the self-pity trap when things go wrong. I know, I’ve been there, too. When the losses, injuries and general failings begin to mount at once it is especially difficult to avoid feeling this way.
Take this season’s Timberwolves for example.
After nearly a decade of middling to downright awful teams, it appeared this team had finally positioned itself for a playoff run once again. Then Kevin Love broke his hand, Chase Budinger’s knee gave him trouble, the Brandon Roy experiment flamed out, and naturally Ricky Rubio had to ease his way back into playing. This is of course on top of nagging injuries to everyone else on the roster. And I do mean everyone.
Even Josh Howard who was brought in to take Brandon Roy’s minutes while he got healthy suffered a season-ending knee injury, Rick Adelman missed time tending to his wife, and the losses began to mount and fans (and some bloggers) got restless. After all, it’s been a long, what, nine years now since the team had sniffed the postseason and it began to feel as if the promise of the new season was slowly slipping through our hands, right before our eyes.
Like a reflex or a crutch to lean on when you’re wounded, many played the “Woe are we!” card while bemoaning the recent lack of success of the local teams in general, not just the Timberwolves. And that’s the thing: we romanticize our misery to the point where I’m not even sure we’d know how to feel if teams started rattling off championships. Instead of realizing that losing seasons come and go just like the winning seasons do and that injuries are just a part of the game, we get emotional and exaggerate the magnitude of the disappointment.
The thing is, it doesn’t only “happen to us”; it happens to everyone, but some just have worse luck than others. With the Timberwolves, they signed Brandon Roy and Andrei Kirilenko — two vets with a history of known injuries — who have missed time. Nikola Pekovic has dealt with nagging injuries here and there since last season, so it’s no surprise that he too has had his moments. Frankly, when you add players with a history of health issues you’re taking a chance, and sometimes those gambles come back to get you.
The Timberwolves are not cursed, as unfortunate as their luck has been at times. They knew there was a chance these things could happen, and some acquisitions have worked out pretty well most of the time when you step away from it all. If the team were in fact cursed would we point to Jordan Hill’s injury trouble this season with the Lakers as a result of his visit with the Timberwolves this offseason? Ridiculous, right? Injuries and misfortune are just a part of the game, and there isn’t anything you can do about it. Heck, look at the Knicks right now and the injuries they’re dealing with, and you’ll see that everyone goes through injuries at some point.
I know that the frustration comes from losing and the frustration of having those high hopes for the season dashed from the onset by injury after injury, but these times will pass, too. After all, sometimes you’re the pigeon and sometimes you’re the statue, if you get my drift. But know that when we’ve seen this team at even 80% we know that this current roster has a ton of potential, and anything the organization can extrapolate from the 8-10 games they will get to see of the healthy Timberwolves will only give them more of an idea on how to improve them for next year.
The losing sucks and I’m as tired of it as the next person, but it’s beyond anyone’s control. It’s a bit of a lost season, but unlike past years we know that this is now a 20-win team at best. I’ve always believed that hanging in there through the lean times makes the winning all the sweeter, and with this team that winning is probably going to be pretty damn great.