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Thursday, November 6th, 2008 at 12:57 pm  |  46 responses

Game Notes: Spurs at T-Wolves

Talking change. Seeing change.


by Myles Brown

The murky, overcast skies above the Twin Cities on Wednesday certainly didn’t reflect the dawn of a new day, but the winds of change that swept an entire nation Tuesday night were clearly still reverberating throughout the Target Center. As the Timberwolves prepared for a visit from Gregg Poppovich’s Biennial NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs, much of the locker room chatter centered around Electoral College Champion Barack Obama and his historic victory. I had a chance to catch up with a few of the players and get their thoughts on the matter. Here are some highlights…

SLAM: What was the biggest issue that factored into your decision making?

Al Jefferson: Just to keep from going through another four years of what we’ve been seeing for the past eight years. Even though for tax purposes, voting for McCain probably would’ve benefited me more, I haven’t always been in this situation. I grew up struggling and so did my family so I can relate to what people are going through. I just think that Obama-regardless of whether he was yellow-it wouldn’t have mattered. It was what he was saying and the changes he wanted to make were what we needed. And if McCain was saying the same things I would’ve voted for him.

Mark Madsen: Having studied economics, I was a little worried about the tax plan in the long term. Short term, I think it’s gonna be really nice. But I was a little bit nervous about the long term sustainability of the tax plan. I’m actually thrilled though, with the outcome because I thought that both candidates were so qualified. And I think that internationally, our stature is going to regain what it was in the late nineties and 2000. I spent two years in Spain and the biggest thing for me is how we’re perceived internationally. Unfortunately, in the last six to eight years, it’s gone downhill.

SLAM: How much did you consider the tax breaks that you would have received under a McCain administration?

Mark Madsen: I’ll be paying higher taxes and that’s fine. Cause for the longest time, I was telling my friends that ‘I want to pay higher taxes’. The big issue for me is that we’re in a recession and to raise taxes in a recession, that’s what got me nervous. I talked about that with some of the guys on the team and their counter arguments, there’s some strong counter arguments.

Sebastian Telfair: A lot of people would say that Obama wouldn’t be the man for us as far as our tax breaks are concerned, but when you look at the overall picture and only a small percentage of us are making over $250,000, to judge your vote on that would be completely selfish. So I really didn’t care what the breakdown was on the tax brackets.

Kevin Love: I think Tyson Chandler said it best. There’s people in my family, there’s people in a lot of families that have been struggling. They don’t have much money and we’re in the upper one or two percentile in this country. If we have to take a little bit of a break from the money that we make and they’re gonna be able to live a happier life, then so be it.

SLAM: Did race influence your decision at all?

Sebastian Telfair: Absolutely. You can’t ignore the fact that this is going to be the first black President and the history of everything we’ve went through in this country. That was definitely a huge factor for me in becoming a part of history with that vote.

SLAM: What is the personal significance of America electing its first Black President?

Mark Madsen: I think it’s just a great statement about where we are as a country, that we can say ‘Who is the best candidate?’ and that any concerns-or what might have been concerns forty years ago-aren’t an issue today. And that’s the way it should be.

Sebastian Telfair: I’m pretty young, but I know a bit of my history and everything that we went through and all the obstacles we had to overcome. But to see that day, for me to be alive and know that my time saw the first black President, my Grandmother probably wouldn’t have even thought of that. She passed away last year, she didn’t get an opportunity to see this, but I know she’s smiling for everything that she went through.

Kevin Love: It’s great. It’s just us moving forward. I think he’s going to do a great job. He’s a great leader and he speaks very well and he’ll be able to create a lot of change.

SLAM: He’s articulate.

Kevin Love: Oh my God, he can really speak. More than anyone I’ve seen.

SLAM: That might get you in trouble, a white guy calling a black guy articulate.

Kevin Love: Why?

SLAM: It didn’t go too well for Joe Biden.

Kevin Love: People are people. That’s not who I am. Not what I’m about.

SLAM: What immediate changes do you expect to see once Obama is in the Oval Office?

Al Jefferson: For this war to end. I’ve got a lot of family over there and I’m ready for them to come home.

Sebastian Telfair: I think our relationship with other countries around the world will change. We’re showing that we’re making changes and that we’re not the big bully, we want to get everyone together. And I think that making our relationships around the world better should also help the economy.

Ryan Gomes: I don’t know what to expect in the beginning. I think it’s going to be hard to just come in and flip a switch like that. I could take a year, it could take the whole term. You never know, so we’re just gonna have to wait and see. I think he’s going to do the best that he can, and I don’t know all the views or what’s going to change right away, but I’m going to be paying very close attention.

Bassy's backPoint Proven?

This was also Sebastian Telfair’s first game back from a questionable suspension and his heady play provided answers to several problems in the Wolves offense. Though both teams struggled through an abysmal first quarter, Bassy immediately corrected Minnesota’s course with the instinctual ball movement and tempo that fans pined for in his starting counterpart, Randy Foye. Bassy penetrates the lane with an ease that eldues Foye and the difference is vital in the timing of the teams offense. Foye pounds the ball at the top of the key, looking for a seam or a play and wasting valuable seconds off of the shot clock whereas Telfair can invade the paint and escape unscathed with enough time left on the 24 to feed Al Jefferson in the post with room to operate.

More importantly, Bassy has shown early signs of improvement on his much bemoaned jumper, exhibiting a sensibility in shot selection and a confidence in canning the open shot. If he can maintain opposing defenses respect, his quickness, vision and creativity with the rock will only be enhanced by the assortment of scorers and playmakers surrounding him. Telfair showed a real chemistry with Kevin Love as they pushed the ball off of a made or missed basket early and connected on a drive and kick that freed the forward up for three early in the second quarter. No one on the team may appreciate Love’s much ballyhooed outlet passes more than Telfair this season.

No one seemed to benefit more from Telfair’s return than Randy Foye. He seemed much more comfortable making plays from the off guard position as the spacing provied by Mike Miller’s hot shooting (10-19 FG, 5-7 3PT) gave him wider driving lanes and wide open jumpers. This helped break Foye out of his recent slump, with a 5-11 performance from the field and his nine assists would have been much more impressive if they hadn’t been overshadowed by two game changing turnovers.

With two seconds left in regulation the Wolves had the ball and a chance to break a tie game at 106 for the win. Rashad McCants had been substituted for Corey Brewer for his range and dexterity and the play was clearly for him as he curled from the baseline to the top of the key. But Foye inexplicably ignored an open McCants and ended up tossing the ball directly to Bruce Bowen for the ‘steal’. McCants, who up until this point had displayed a team centric attitude on the season, incredulousy-and repeatedly-mouthed to himself “Oh my God…” as he returned to the bench. I’m sure he wasn’t the only one.

Foye also had a costly traveling turnover with a minute left in the following overtime that deprived Minnesota of an opportunity to break another tie. Bassy had fouled out thirty seconds earlier, forcing Foye to take on the point again. Randy would do his best to redeem himself in the second OT with consecutive long range J’s to keep the Wolves close, but as the horn sounded on a heart breaking loss, he must have regretted those miscues that could’ve produced a different outcome.

Le MieuerSacre Bleu!

While I was certainly excited to see Telfair back in uniform, I do have to address a small point. The last time these two teams met, I noted Bassy’s potential to duplicate Tony Parker’s game just as Al Jefferson has cloned Tim Duncan. Jefferson (30 & 14) and Duncan (30 & 16) both started slowly only to lock horns late in a classic duel of talented pivots. And Telfair had a good game off the bench (8 & 10), but it was made quite clear on this night that he will never be Tony Parker.

The knock on Parker early in his career was his jumpshot. Opponents would always go under on the pick and rolls with Duncan, forcing the frenchman to fire away from long range. This is still the strategy most teams use, as Parker from 20′ seems to be the lesser of two evils, but Tony has clearly grown comfortable with his shot and caught fire like never before, setting a Target Center record with a double nickel on the night almost exclusively on jumpers (Shaq’s 53 points was the previous high).

Telfair can compete with Parker in speed, quickness, ball handling, playcalling and may even develop a jumper to match, but the time spent on a championship roster under the tutelage of an exceptional taskmaster is hard to come by. And it gives Parker the confidence to shoot the ball 36 times without a second thought while dropping ten dimes on the night. Having spent his short lived career on sub .500 teams, Bassy could never conceive of such a thing.

So time will show us what the future has in store for Sebastian Telfair, but on this night Tony Parker showed us that his future just might end in Springfield.

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  • namik

    Mark Madsen is crazy. In a very very good way. Thanks Myles.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    “Telfair showed a real chemistry with Kevin Love.”
    That’s Slam Diary chemistry, kids.

  • namik

    SLAM: He’s articulate.

    Kevin Love: Oh my God, he can really speak. More than anyone I’ve seen.

    SLAM: That might get you in trouble, a white guy calling a black guy articulate.

    Kevin Love: Why?

    SLAM: It didn’t go too well for Joe Biden.

    L. O. L

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Anyway, this is dope. Great to hear players — white and black, but all of them making absurd amounts of money — realizing that it might actually be in the long-term best interests of EVERYONE if those who can afford it pour a little more back into the pot. The days of going for delf as national economic policy need to be over. Ayn Rand can eat a d*ck.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Yeah, Myles and his gotcha journalism.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com H to the Izzo

    Translation of this whole article:”F*ck you,Spencer Hawes”

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Izz: I just got that tattooed on my left @ss cheek, actually. I’ll make it my Facebook profile pic shortly.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com H to the Izzo

    Ryan:Try all you want,it’s still not beating mine.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com H to the Izzo

    Oh and I think I heart Al Jefferson.

  • riggs

    great interview, seriously. bassy sounded really mature and unlike the way he has been made out to be in certain articles, this is why i love SLAM***

  • namik

    I can just imagine Madsen sitting in his living room with friends and, just out of the blue, saying, “You know what guys? I wish I could pay higher taxes, I really do…”

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com H to the Izzo

    namik:You know what,I CAN actually see that,because 1)he’s seems smart and 2)he has an degree in economics (you know the money dealy)and so he can probably see the intelelctual benefits of raising taxes,instead of the general attitude of “Raizzing taxes,that’s sooo stupid,lolz.I will have less money that what I earnz hardly”.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com H to the Izzo

    Spelling intellectual wrong?I believe that’s called a ‘fail’.Oh d’irony.

  • namik

    Izzo, if you actually read the article, you would see that his economic degree taught him that raising taxes in a recession could actually harm the economy. I would know, I just graduated with a econ degree. And Donald Trump said he was voting McCain and I have to believe that taxes have to play a role in that. So no, most rich, intellectual people wouldn’t “wish” a income cut on themselves.

  • namik

    BTW I don’t know if you’ve ever read about the two parties but many “studies” show that as Americans get older, they tend to change from Democrats to Republicans. A big part of this is believed to be the fact that the Republican party tends to favor lower taxes, thereby insuring their accumulated wealth.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com H to the Izzo

    Well,Donald Trump is a despicable human being who has never contributed anything worthwhile to the world,so voting opposite to him is probably not a bad idea.I also should have added that he probably has a conscience too.Since you’re the econ grad I’ll take your word fr it,but I was working under the understanding that high taxes+protectionism is a good thing during times of recession.

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    Any article that compares Kevin Love to Joe Biden gets respect. Biden might be a better NBA post player, but other than they’re pretty similar.

  • namik

    Izzo, again like Madsen pointed out, there are many arguments on both sides. It also depends on how its sold to you and Obama is a great seller. My point was that people with “accumulated wealth” as a general rule, do NOT seem to be ready to share. That is why its so awesome that Madsen and his teammates actually want to pay higher taxes and understand its not all about them.

  • ciolkstar

    Damn. I appreciate Al being real about the likely reality of a larger tax burden under Obama, then going straight back to how he grew up struggling. The man has some perspective and isn’t just thinking about himself today, but rather what would be best for ALL Americans. Living in Austin (and being a huge Spurs fan) I watched all of the epic double OT game last night and can say that Al might have a better offensive ost game than Timmy. And Kev Love has been a revelation, I’m happy for him and think he will silence a lot of doubters in the years to come. The TWolves aren’t a good team yet, but they’re young and more talented than they have been in past years.

  • ciolkstar

    I commented before finishing the article, but this was really a great piece. Nice to hear honest opinions straight from the players themselves. Tony P was absolutely redic last night. He still has a lot of doubters, but I see him having a career year and silencing many of them this season. And honestly, the Wolves still could’ve easily won that game. Costly late turnovers killed them, but that’s the learning curve for young players. If there really is such a thing as a “moral victory” last night’s effort should be one for the young T wolves.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    I just want to know if Kevin even knew who Myles was?

  • http://www.mybleedingfingertips.blogspot.com/ Myles Brown

    Yeah he did. Just don’t think he got the joke.

  • riggs

    i laugh at donald trump because now he has to buy one less private jet. oh the hurt he must feel /sarcasm

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    If you ask the guys in other sports leagues, however, their tune might be a bit different.

    NFL teams, for example, were BIG on McCain. (Chargers were the biggest sports contributors to his campaign. I hate Phillip Rivers, btw)

    Even most of my Broncos are HUGE republican guys (ie my beloved, #7)

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Myles is part of the liberal elite media and that was a set-up. Poor Kevin. He probably doesn’t even know Africa is a continent.
    And namik: Did you graduate recently enough to have studied the utter failure of the Friedman/Greenspan worldview?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Same league that specializes in the postgame midfield prayer circle, right Cub? Same league that is seen as the ultimate expression of American machismo, while not at all ironically following an entirely sociallst business model. At least the Rooneys get it right…

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    Ryan,
    Whenever football players do something stupid or are rude to people in public, my brother always reminds me how “cool” the football players were in high school…. (nice guys, eh?)

    That league has an public image problem, not the NBA…..

    What about the post-TD, one knee prayer?

  • namik

    Ryan-No just before that actually. But maybe you could tell me any economic worldview that has been implemented and (at some point or another) NOT failed? Bush and the government might have had a lot to do with it, but a recession will always follow a boom. The arrival could have been softer than it was, but I sure didn’t hear people complaining about the “Friedman/ Greenspan worldview” when it made America the richest nation in the world and helped many developing nations get out of the Malthusian/agricultural trap. Here is another thing I can promise you- Whatever Obama or whoever does/do to improve the situation, there WILL be another recession in the next 8-10 years. All that we can hope for is that the government then will anticipate better than this one did.

  • http://slamonline.com Holly MacKenzie

    Myles, thank you for this.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Cub: I work at Penn State, remember? I assume you’ve seen our offseason rap sheet? Eternally frustrating. At least nobody’s been arrested since August…
    *knocks on wood*
    namik: What I think we can agree on is that this president is more likely to step in and actually do something to keep a complete collapse from happening in the first place. He is a commie, after all.

  • http://www.ravingblacklunatic.blogspot.com Allenp

    Myles, thank you so much for this. I REALLY appreciate this perspective on the players. Thank you for asking intelligent questions that so many others did not bother to explore. This presented a much more nuances view of players than the one we typically get from mainstream media sources.
    This is why Slam is special.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Oh, and if you didn’t hear people complaining, it’s just because you weren’t listening — which, in fairness, a lot of people weren’t. But the liberals were complaining during the Reagan years, and some of them were even complaining under Clinton.

  • namik

    Ryan I am glad that Obama actually sounds like he knows what the f*ck he is talking about. Do I think its a bit reactionary to suddenly switch from free trade to protectionism? Yes. Do I think its going to be as drastic as people are making it out to be? No. But yeah, Barack is exactly what you guys needed to fend off the Chinese…

  • namik

    They’re liberals…what do you expect? Yes I know that many people thought that free trade was basically the rich guy exploiting the poor guy but when I kids paying $40,000 tuition complain about economic inequality, I smile. When I was in America, it amazed me how clueless people really were about how big the differential really is. Even now most people in America are better off than millions of people around the world will ever be. But I do appreciate the thought. But thats a different discussion. Last night, America made a great decision and congratulations to you all.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Fend off the Chinese? Is Obama really Bruce Leroy? I KNEW IT!

  • namik

    Did you hear about the remake where Sam L. Jackson is going to be Sho’nuff?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Tad made me laugh.
    And namik, I appreciate your rationality, and your good wishes. My biggest worry today is the (I hope) minority of right-wingers who are openly and actively rooting for Obama to fail. Because, you know, Country First, right? And word about Americans not knowing how good they have it. As collective intelligence and awareness go, our lowest common denominator is pretty low. The previous two elections proved that point pretty well.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    TAD,made me laugh, too. Btw, who is the master????
    Feel the beat….

  • http://www.ngunioamosotho.com Nguni

    KEVIN LOVE: “he speaks very well”…typical!

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Malik Rose was super-psyched about the election as well. I mentioned that he needed to get a few more friends to register in Texas (where he’s registered) and he just laughed.

  • http://www.ngunioamosotho.com Nguni

    Malik probably knows more than I do bout those texans. btw, i got a texan roommate.

  • Captain America

    Come off the Kool-Aid Myles! The best of the game last night was the continued emergence of K-Love.

  • Captain America

    If, as reports indicate, 95% of black voters went for Obama, who’s the racist? (talk amongst yourselves)

  • Captain America

    Imagine if 95% of white voters had voted for McCain.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Myles, great job getting all these guys to talk about the election. Really good stuff.

  • http://LATESTCRY.WORDPRESS.COM akimana

    Captaint america has had this comment in a couple of threads and it’s the dumbest thing. Does he realize that 90% of African americans were democrats anyways? SO maybe its not that Obama is black and more that the republican party has not had the support of blacks in the longest.

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