When Suffering Becomes Tolerable

I bet if you asked many Minnesotans about their favorite basketball team, you’d probably get these answers:

— “I don’t like basketball.”

— “Team X” (most likely the L.A. Lakers or Miami Heat, but certainly not the Timberwolves)

— “It used to be the Timberwolves until they traded Kevin Garnett, started sucking, etc.”

I belong to possibly the smallest group that you could find when asking that question. Yes, I’m still loyal to the Wolves, despite trading Kevin Garnett for what felt like half of a terrible Celtics team, despite Kevin McHale’s mismanagement, despite the cycling of head coaches.

Trust me, it’s tough. I liken it to watching a Twins blowout loss. It’s ugly, there’s not a chance of winning, but I still watch. Why? Because if the unexpected happens, I want to see it.

On April 17, 2009, the Twins were losing to the Los Angeles Angels by a score of 8-2 in the 7th inning. My roommate assumed that the game was over right there, so he decided to leave me to watch the rest of the game. Well, if you know your Twins history well, this was the game where Jason Kubel hit a grand slam to complete his cycle, capping off the 7-run 8th inning for the Twins and causing Dick Bremer to exclaim, “If you left this game, shame on you!” When my roommate returned, he was in shock to see the score at 11-9 with the Twins ahead. I don’t think many people stuck around to see Kubel complete the cycle with his go-ahead grand slam, but I was there.

That’s how I feel about the Wolves. Every game doesn’t look promising for the team, but I still watch when I can. For one, I want to recognize the players on the team. It’s not as fun for me to show up to a game and I can’t tell the stars and the role players apart. Second, as I mentioned above, it’s fun to see the unexpected happen, even if these events are few and far between. Well, on Friday night, the unexpected did happen.

In case you haven’t heard, forward Kevin Love scored 31 points and grabbed 31 rebounds in a 112-103 victory over the New York Knicks. Love’s performance was the first 30-30 game in 28 years, when Hall of Famer Moses Malone scored 32 points and grabbed 38 rebounds. Add in Michael Beasley’s 35 points (second consecutive game with at least 35 points, as Beasley scored 42 in his previous game), and the Wolves had two outstanding performances from two guys that should be cornerstones of the team once they return to respectability.

I’d love to gloat about how I saw Love’s 30-30 game, but I can’t. Very few people can, because the game was not televised in Minnesota. Yep, just like Eric Milton’s no-hitter in 1999, no one saw it.

That’s disappointing, because it almost makes Love’s hard work seem like a myth. Fortunately it was not, and it gave me a little more faith in supporting the Wolves. They still most likely won’t make the playoffs, and it’s still hard to watch the team when they’re losing by 25 on the road, but it’s games like yesterday’s that make the seemingly unending suffering tolerable.

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