By Myles Brown
First of all I wanna thank my connect, the most important people with all due respect…
Nah, let’s not do that again.
Whatever status I had attained as the high minded, self-righteous blogger that I was (Is there any other kind?…), evaporated on November 16, 2007 at approximately 4:35 CST when I attempted to make the leap to intrepid reporter. I’m still not exactly sure how it went.
Upon entering the Timberwolves administrative offices, I was greeted by an enthusiastic receptionist who obtained my press credentials and directed me to a stairwell leading to the media room. As I trudged through the bowels of the Target Center, I recognized two things: That I was going to see the NBA in a way that I never had and I was also going to see what I was made of. Of course I had already acknowledged these truths, but this time was different. Initially they were just two of many proclamations provoked by a crazed excitement, but when I grabbed that door handle they became the fluctuating beats of my heart.
This isn’t to say that I was scared, just excited. And nervous.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been passionate about not only the lig, but those who cover it. Years of schooling had exposed me to the footprints of literary giants such as Pope, Hawthorne, Dickinson, Bradbury & Orwell, amongst others. But to be honest with you, I don’t remember much-if any-of it, just that I actually read it. However, I can vividly reminisce on a Phil Taylor or Jack McCallum article in SI that I haven’t picked up in about a decade. Or a Ralph Wiley gem on the Worldwide Follower. Even those classic Sports Guy ramblings, and of course the ground breaking work done at this very magazine. I remember it all. If the finesse, power, athleticism and emotion of professional basketball was what captured my attention, then these men’s words were the timeless articulation of those elements. Michael Jordan made me watch the NBA, but these men made me love it.
So as I pushed that handle and opened the door to a new world, like I said, I got a little nervous. Again, not a fearful nervousness, but a “This is a great opportunity and I hope I don’t make a f*cking fool of myself” anxiety. I wondered if everyone got that feeling. If it showed. If there was anything one could do about it.
While contemplating the if’s, I waited for a pat on the shoulder and a reassurance that “You ain’t got no problem, Myles. I’m on the m*therf*cker. Go back in there and chill them n*ggas out and wait for the cavalry, which should be coming directly.” Instead, Nick Young came out of the Wizards locker room and asked me which way the court was. I wanted to be helpful and provide him with the direction that would be beneficial to both of us. Instead I looked left, then right, and decided to tell him the only thing I was certain of. “Sorry dude, first day.”
The smile on his face reiterated my own thoughts. “Well sh*t, n*gro! That’s all you had to say!”
From there, I navigated trough the phalanx of security and eventually found the Wolves den. With all the ambition and naivety of a high school reporter, I strode straight past the coaches offices, the plush furnishings of the locker room and into the adjacent trainers room where two players rested. Without hesitation, I asked one of them if I could have a few words with him for his featurette in an upcoming issue and he responded with a question of his own. “Are y’all gonna use a better picture of me this time?” I told him I had absolutely no control over that, and before getting any further, I was introduced to the trainer. “You need to go back into the locker room.”
Waiting in the entryway, I heard Al Jefferson and Gerald Green greet starting PG Marko Jaric with good natured ribbing about his jacket. When he turned the corner and stopped in front of his locker, I smirked to myself as I couldn’t help but agree with them. It was pretty ugly. Anyway, here I was in my first NBA locker room, recorder in hand, wits intact, with a player and an assistant coach inches away from me. I felt as though I should’ve been awash with a deluge of journalistic instinct, only to remember that this was Marko Jaric and there were only three things I could possibly ask him: “How did Kobe’s elbow feel?”, “What made you buy that jacket?” and “Why aren’t you Sam Cassell?”
During this revelation, Marko and the assistant were chatting and as I looked up I saw them acknowledge my presence and begin to speaked in hush tones between glances in my direction. After convincing them that I was not snooping, I was greeted by-unbeknownst to him-my impromptu tour guide for the evening, Stephen Litel of Hoops World. We exchanged a bit of background information and made our way to the Wizards locker room which was slightly a slightly more fulfilling experience.
“And I don’t need a hook for this sh*t!”, DeShawn Stevenson exclaimed as we entered enemy territory. I wanted to ask the American Gangster how the beard growing goes, but he seemed to be enjoying a bit of “me” time. I quickly scanned the area for Gilbert Arenas, only to find Brendan Haywood, Darius Songaila and um, I forget who else. Disappointed, I took a bathroom break only to miss the Wizards assessment of opponent Rashad McCants. To paraphrase, “That’s the cockiest m*therf*cker in the league who hasn’t accomplished anything.” They might not be in the minority on that opinion.
What I did catch upon my return was a nugget of nostalgia from the days of the Target Center’s previous landlord, Kevin Garnett. DeShawn recounted the tale of an earlier visit to Minnesota where an unnamed teammate received one of K.G.’s infamous tongue lashings. “Dude was like ‘Did I get get fouled?’ K.G. said, ‘He blew the m*therf*ckin’ whistle didn’t he? Yeah, I fouled you b*tch!'”
Those were the days.
-There are a LOT of Gilbert jerseys in the building. As I notice this, about seven women walk past me in matching rhinstone studded “Operation Arenas” t-shirts. There’s a cruel groupie joke to be made that I won’t about women that age. Stay classy ladies.
-Gil uninpeded to the hoop, 2-0, Wizards.
-Bounce pass across the lane from Shaddy McCants to Al Jefferson for the dunk, 4-2.
-Al loses control of ball on the way up for a shot, travels instead.
-Two more buckets and a runner in the lane from DeShawn. 10-2, Wiz. Timeout Wolves.
-Al gets the roll on the baby hook, 10-4.
-Shaddy with the trey.
-Ryan ‘I’m bringin put back’ Gomes with the 17’er, 12-9.
-Shaddy feelin’ it, forces the airball.
-Gil, jumper, 16-13
-Shaddy drives, stripped.
-All-Star guard Antoine Walker substituted for Jefferson, 21-15, Wiz.
-Wolves turn the ball over on three straight possesions.
-Coney Island’s Finest, Sebastian Telfair, in for Jaric.
-Shaddy with the offensive foul.
-Gil from 27′ for three, 26-15, Wiz.
-Shaddy answers from 16′ with the fadeaway.
-Bassy to Craig Smith, 26-19.
-Corey Brewer in for Gomes. Corey is always smiling.
-Gil forces a bad pass.
-Gil with the easy basket, 27-22.
-Jamison for three. 9 points in the quarter.
-Shaddy from 20’ft.
-Gil to Songalia for the lay before he buzzer. End of 1st.
-One of Craig Smith’s favorite movies is ‘Jerry Maguire’. Gomes loves ‘Anchorman’. Thank you, Jumbotron.
-Wiz shot 60% in the 1st.
-Toine for trey, 32-27.
-Bassy is even faster in person, if possible. He puts a lightning quick cross on Daniels that didn’t result in anything but was still impressive. I bet he’d get like 30,000 points for it on that AND 1 video game.
-Toine again for trey!
-Toine on the low block over Songalia! New Orleans, here he comes! 32-30.
-Bassy penetrates, kicks out to Brewer for three 35-34, Wolves.
-Jamison back in for Songalia.
-Greg Buckner makes two FT, 37-34.
-Toine strips Nick Young in the corner, trails upcourt for, yup, you guessed it…three! 40-34, Timeout Wiz.
-Al having a rough night so far, misses everything on the hook shot.
-Bassy, drives, double clutches, 42-34.
-Caron Butler with the 18’er.
-Bassy pulls up from 15′.
-Gil with the lay in and a questionable blocking foul on Toine, makes the FT, 45-39.
-Al misses another hook, Wiz on the fast break, Gil to Caron for two.
-I missed the last three minutes of the half meeting Amy, a player program coordinator. Her being more attractive than about 65% of you excuses this. 51-47, Wolves.
-In the herd of fans rushing to exit the court for the break, I found myself standing next to Wolves owner, Glen Taylor. Everything I ever wanted to say to him never left my mouth. Especially about Kevin McHale. In fact, I didn’t say anything. Yes, it was the smart thing to do under the circumstances, but the fan in me still felt like a p*ssy. Meh.
-Outside during a cigarette break, I mention to the girl standing next to me that I like her T’Wolves gloves. Turns out I’m standing next to a bonafide internet celebrity, I Heart KG‘s own Sonia Grover. To my surprise, she knows who I am. Max too. Both of us think that Sonia is the coolest internet celebrity we’ve ever met (*Note: She’s the only one, but still…). Tobacco:Bringing people together for more than a century. So let a m*therf*cker smoke inside! Man!
-Shaddy with the runner, 55-49.
-Jamison for three.
-Shaddy turns it over.
-Shaddy turns it over again a minute later.
-Brendan Haywood dunks all over Theo Ratliff. With two hands, for safety. 56-54
– Shaddy for three.
-Haywood with authority again.
-Al lays in the reverse.
-Then misses from a foot away. Couldn’t get the roll.
-Shaddy again for three from the same spot, 68-56 Wolves.
-Gil answers right back from deep, 68-59.
-During the ensuing Wolves timeout, Theo Ratliff left the game. Turned out to be a problem with his knee.
-There’s a man in the front row behind Minnesota’s bench with a perm that makes him look like Katt Williams father. Corey Brewer catches a glimpse and seems nothing less than amused as he turns away.
-Offensive foul, McCants.
-Jamison floats one in, Wiz gaining momentum, trail 68-65. Timeout Wolves.
-Al with the bucket and the foul off of Toine’s assist, 71-65.
-Songalia from long range.
-Butler bangs home the reverse, a quiet-but impressive-18 through three on 7-11 from the floor. Brewer is waaay too small for him.
-Songalia again. Tie game.
-Shaddy turns it over. Again. That’s six times if you’re counting at home.
-Toine lays one in and McCants makes one of two FT. End of third, 74-71, Wolves.
-10 year old Andrew Somethingorother, does the cabbage patch all over two rhythmically challenged teenagers, and seals the dance contest win with the worm. Sponsored by the Do campaign. Meh.
-Brewer gets the runner to fall.
-Bassy with a block, but Songalia recovers.
-Craig Smith has trouble in the paint. Jefferson subbed in.
-Butler knocks down an elbow jumper.
-Buckner makes one of two, 81-79, Wolves.
-Gil over Bucker, tie game. 6 minutes left. This is where the Wolves have been running into trouble.
-Gil from a dead standstill over Brewer from 20′.
-Bassy with the pullup.
-Gil again from 20′.
-Shaddy McTurnover back in the game for Buckner.
-Bassy sits down for Marko.
-Caron with two FT. 87-83, Wiz.
-Shaddy with a questionable shot with lots of time on the clock.
-Antonio Daniels with two FT.
-Marko turns it over, Haywood gets the bucket and the foul. 91-83, Wiz. Timeout Wolves.
-Toine makes one of two.
-Gil lulls Brewer to sleep and then pulls up in his face for three. Nachooooooooo!
-Toine turns it over, Wiz break ends with a Blatche and one. 97-84 Wiz.
-Toine turns it over again, Wiz break again, Gil alleys to Blatche and the Target Center empties.
-I was particularly impressed with how Bassy handled the T’Wolves offense. The ball moved with a lot more purpose than when Marko was running the point. The lapses in offensive production definitely began when he sat down.
-Al Jefferson attempted his first shot of the 4th with about 35 seconds left in the game. Shame. With Randy Foye out, other than Al the Wolves lack a definitive go-to-guy, which makes everyone think they’ve got a license to shoot. When they can’t. And shouldn’t. Tough night or not, give the ball to Jefferson and build off of that. He was noticeably disappointed during postgame interviews.
-Didn’t ever get any closer than shouting distance to Gil. Damn. So many questions. Video games or P0rn? Why hasn’t anyone tried to make a chocolate gum? Murder, Marry, F*ck: Star Jones, Whoopi or Oprah? Ann Coulter, Nancy Grace & Hillary Clinton? Another time.