I can be a rather morbid person. I’m not exactly sure when or how I developed this character trait, but I’m predisposed to indulging in almost all that is unpleasant. Like many others, I peek through my fingers in a feigned disgust amidst the oohs and eews of friends watching Faces of Death or any other instance of internet debauchery. I was just recently introduced to the minute of life altering lewdness that is the ‘two girls and one cup’ video (find it yourself, if you already haven’t…), and I immediately demanded a second viewing. I’m just a sucker for sh*t like that. The internet allows us to expose ourselves to things that our otherwise delicate sensibilities would find abhorrent.
I’m also not a big fan of public transportation. A familiarity with Chicago, Philly and New York has led me to believe that it’s often crowded, dirty and bewildering. But I have developed quite a fondness for the Minneapolis/St.Paul light rail. It’s sleek, speedy and wonderfully convenient. My mind is weighted by neither a disgust for my environment, nor the stress of transferring to the next train or bus on time. I’m free to contemplate some of life’s more complex conundrums. Like why Jordan Brand will lather NBA video games with product placement, but won’t allow their namesake’s likeness as a playable character. How can I have the greatest game ever simulated without him? And now that I mention it, where the hell is Scottie Pippen?
Anyway, when I arrived at the station around 4:30 to make my way to the Target Center, I was surprised to see a fleet of local news trucks. The first-and only-thing to come to mind was “somebody must’ve died”. This wasn’t with any sense of amusement, just a rational conclusion. It turns out, somebody had died. In light of the circumstances, I found myself wondering what I should be truly thankful for this year. After acknowledging the cliches of life and health came a rather unexpected realization.
I’m thankful for Ryan Jones.
Much like our favorite farmer, I-or should I say Max-liked to comment. Perhaps a bit too much at times. And certainly not always on topic. But there was a particular instance of this behavior that offended the purveyor of SLAM’s roundball almanac, prompting him to tell me:
Was I in the wrong? Maybe, maybe not. Was I offended? Not at all. Besides, I already had my own blog.
But I had no idea what I was doing.
Inspired by the first name I saw in orange, I decided to take the plunge only to quickly find out how far I was in over my head. No sooner than I’d started, I began to lose interest. Writing Lang and Sam was one thing, but blogging was different. My letters were usually vitriolic responses to something they wrote that drew my ire, rarely concerning anything other than Kobe Bryant. They required no discernible planning or effort, yelling at someone is easy. But I didn’t know how to write posts that led to timely discussions, much less how to build and maintain an audience. It seemed pointless. And hopeless.
But aside from being morbid, I can also be rather stubborn at times. Spiteful even. And if this slight-perceived or not-was what it took to fuel another try, then so be it. Not That It Mattered.
Ten months later there I was, armed with a press pass, living out a fantasy I never considered possible. Of course other elements were involved in Bears Coming Up To This Window, but I still considered this the catalyst that took me from small font, to orange font, to large font.
And for it, I was truly thankful.
With that thought, I exited the light rail looking forward to my first glimpse of LeBron James.
Ryan says he’s pretty good.
-Jake has brought attention to the fact that many times “experts” will make half baked assertions only to hear them echoed by their mindless minions. Antoine Walker being “fat” is definitely one of those erroneous proclamations. I’ve seen him in a towel enough times to say with confidence that if he’s fat, then I’m a borderline shut-in.
-Shaddy cathes and shoots from 17ft. 2-0
-Big Z starts early in the post with the fade over Al.
-An overeager Shaddy loses the ball. Surprise?
-Pavlovic rakes Shaddy right across the arm. No call. Fast Break. Bron comes down with the thunder.
-Al tries to answer with a dunk of his own over Z but cant get it.
-Gomes faces up Bron and js him from 11 ft on the baseline
-Al fakes right, spins left and lays one in under Zs outstretched arm
-Al goes for the same move, fouled by Z, no call. Cavs recover and Bron makes his way through traffic for the and 1 layin
-Shaddy loses the ball going at Pavlovic.
-Gomes with the recovery of a loose ball and the pass to Al for an easy dunk. 8-10, Cleveland.
-McCants over dribbles and forces the fade early in the clock. No bucket.
-Marko from Doleac on the give and go for three. Boobie’s too small.
-Bron with the lefty lay in through traffic.
-Shaddy from the corner for three.
-Doleac gets caught with the ball on an island and Bron anticipates his pass. Loses Marko on the fast break and gets the dunk and the foul. Misses the free throw. But nails the follow up three.
-Jefferson calms things down with the hook over former Wolf Dwayne Jones. Notice the spelling Mrs. Wade. 15-17, Cleveland.
-Bron tries the hot hand with the three from the corner but cant get it to fall.
-Gomes loses handle on a bad pass to Shaddy for the turnover.
-Shaddy works his way around Devin Brown for the strong finish.
-Bron loses Gomes and hits the 20 ft jumper over Jeffersons help D.
-Gomes trails on the secondary break as Bron sags off. 15ft. Good.
-I can’t even begin to describe what I’m staring at during the timeout, Just know that they’re real and they’re f*cking fantastic.
-Crunch, the Wolves mascot is handing out Turkey. If the triptophane doesn’t get ’em, the second half will
-Traveling call on Al
-Marko gets Jones off of his feet but cant finish the 5 footer.
-Al backs down Jones with his strength and lost him with the quick move baseline. 21-23, Cleveland.
-Apparently Bron is the only one in the building who can get a foul call.
-To the line for two. Misses first.
-Toine and Buckner in for the Wolves.
-Jones cannot stop Jefferson. Backs him down and turns into the lane for the hook.
-Shaddy strips Bron on the second pump fake at the top of the key.
-Bron looking for revenge, pulls up for three over Toine. Airball. And he hears it from the crowd.
-Shaddy misses the buzzer beater.
-25-24 Wolves. Bron with 15 in the first. Al with ten.
-Muhammad Ali is Al Jefferson’s favorite athlete. Helps explain the footwork.
-Bassy isn’t playing due to a death in the family. Wolves with no true point in the game. Who will maintain order?
-Gerald Green fould on the break to the line for two.
-Makes one of two.
-Offensive foul on Z. His second.
-Madsen with the offesnsive board. Swings ball to Buckner, who hits Green for an easy 20ft, 28-24, Wolves.
-Toine with the lazy pass. Turnover.
-Damon Jones hits the three byt was out of bounds. Turnover.
-Craig Smith, Toine, Chris Richard Gerald Green and Greg Buckner? Whos supposed to score? Distribute?
-Smith and Richard each miss from the block on alternating possessions.
-Somehow Minnesota is still winning this game. Maybe cause Brown, Z, Jones, Jones & Snow are in for the Cavs. Ouch.
-Good ball movement from Minny gets the open three for Buckner but no basket. Devin Brown on the break for the and one.
-Al, Shaddy and Doleac back in.
-With Bron on the bench, Wolves have the opportunity to make a run.
-Al gets flustered by the double but as the pressure loosens, he goes around Z for the runner in the lane, misses, recovers his own shot and airs the follow up.
-Uh oh. Guess who’s bizzack?
-Shaddy aint scared. Right in his face. 30-31, Cleveland.
-Bron around the entire D and lefty to the cup over Jefferson.
-Shaddy with the assist to Toine for the reverse.
-Shaddy misses two wide open threes in a row.
-Bron on the one man break with the finish. No one is even picking him up on defense until the free throw line. Waaaaay too late.
-Gomes back in. Masochist.
-Shaddy with the runner across his body in the paint for two. 34-35, Cleveland.
-Drew gets Doleac off of his feet and reverse dunks on the other side.
-Al with no one on him, turns and hooks. Good.
-They randomly play the theme music to Magnum P.I. I don’t get it.
-The LeBron James of the NFL, Adrian Peterson, in the house.
-God those things are mesmerizing.
-Al misses the bank over Drew, but recovers the loose ball and puts the bunny in.
-Boobies! Oh, um, Boobie. 18ftr.
-Bron absolutely floors Marko with a strong shoulder on the pick for Gibson.
-Subsequently fouled makes one of two.
-Gomes ariball from three falls right into Al’s hands. He’s fouled.
-And second. 40-41
-Al fouled again. Makes both.
-Bron over Madsen and the help for three. Can’t do much about that.
-14 seconds left.
-I think she caught me.
-End of first.
-The World Famous Man in the box is tonight’s halftime entertainment. I’d rather have a cigarette.
-Since it’s the night before Thanksgiving, it’s an appropriate moment to share a story with you I didn’t have time for the other night, courtesy of our friend Sonia. Apparently one of my favorite MC’s, Ghostface Killah is a diabetic. He keeps a bowl of oreos and a few gallons of orange juice on the tour bus, just in case his blood sugar gets low. During a tour stop in the Twin Cities, some ravenous groupies stormed the bus and proceeded to gorge on all of the cookies and juice. And therein lies the genesis of the classic track “Greedy Bitches”. And now, the second half.
-Bron to the rack. Fouled.
-Al with the catch and hook over Drew to beat the shot clock.
-Bron for three? Nope.
-Marko with the penetration and pass around Z to Al for the lay in
-Gomes from the elbow over Bron.
-Gomes gets the step on Bron on the next possession, but swatted from behind.
-Shaddy ignores Al in the post and forces up the J. Misses, and Bron dimes to Drew with the nice english for the and one.
-Is this the beginning of another Wolves collapse?
-Drew misses the FT
-Al recognizes the double, starts the rotation to the corner for Marko. Long two.
-Marko through the lane. I think he realizes he’s bigger than Boobie.
-Mad Dog takes the charge on Sasha.
-Bron goes for a spin move to start the break after a rebound only to lose it off of Devin Brown. Marko recovers. And one.
-Bron draws the D, kicks it to Brown. No good. But Bron hits the followup three. 55-66
-Brewer has seen NO action. Why?
-Al’s eyes light up every time he turns and sees Dwyane Jones facing him up. 24 points. Not on this one possesion. That would be a record. Word to Kenny Mayne.
-Al goes for another basket but drags his foot and gets the travel call instead.
-Toine pump fakes and freezes his defender but on the drive he tosses it outta bounds in stead of to a wide open Buckner.
-Wolves are actually missing Bassy tonite as the ball aimlessly moves around the court.
-Toine goes straight at Snow. Runner misses, and they’re tied up over the loose ball. House of Pain time. No one else has done a song associated with jumping over the past 25 years other than these guys, Kris Kross, and Van Halen? C’mon.
-Green pumps, two dribbles and an elbow j.
-Brewer in for Mad Dog.
-Green to Toine for three.
-Dwyane Jones for two.
-Coery Brewer from Bucker in the corner. Momentum building as quarter closes.
-Li Ning spokesman Damon misses the baseline three, but Z recovers. Wolves getting murdered on the offensive boards.
-Another dance contest. And the robot gets booed.
-But a little girl just jumping place garners applause? Ageist and sexist. You’re better than that Minnesota.
-White people really cant dance. This last guy goes absolutely spastic. Little girl wins. Not that I could do any better.
-Gerald Green contests Brown’s shot and Toine tosses the long rebound to him for the Smash. Note the capital S.
-Newble can’t beat the shot clock but ANOTHER offensive board.
-Traveling on Brown.
-Coach Brown senses the tide turning and gets Bron back in.
-Bron loses his man on a bad rotation and has enough time to make reservations for two before calmly nailing the three.
-Green snuffed by Big Z.
-Energy in the building dissolving.
-Drew makes two and the lead is back to ten.
-Toine cant get the three and Z inhales the rebound.
-Bron gets caught shoving Buck under the basket for the offensive.
-Al spins through the double and gets another one in the paint.
-Jefferson forces Z into a bad pass and Brewer gets the steal.
-Jefferson turns and faces up from 15. Net.
-Toine draws the charge on Sasha.
-Defense! Bum! Bum! Defense! Bum! Bumba! Bum!
-Bron shuts the crowd up. Great sense of when to go for delf.
-Al can’t get the pet hook to fall, Toine gets fouled on the follow. Two shots.
-Misses the first.
-And the second?!
-Bron takes one bounce, visibly smiles at Buckner, and nails a three. That might be it.
-Jefferson loses the ball, Big Z with the steal.
-Just to make sure, Bron comes upcourt and drops another 28 footer. 79-91, and 9,000 people leave at once.
-Out of the Wolves timeout, Bron steals the inbounds pass and takes off from what must’ve been Iowa with a two handed tomahawk slam that screams “Happy Thanksgiving!”
Postgame: It’s almost as if he knew I was coming. Every concern I had about him was addressed. Albeit, against a 1-8 team, but impressive nonetheless. Shaky jumpshot? 17-26 from the floor and 6-10 from three. Lackadaisical defense? Three steals and two blocks. Can’t close out a game? 17 in the 4th. LeBron James, nice to meet you.
-Arriving in the Twin Cities alongside a fresh snowfall, Bron calls these “trap games” and I’m struck with a fit of inspiration coming to a SLAM near you.
-I catch up with Drew Gooden and ask him how the beard growing contest is going. “I’m willing to hold out as long as it takes.” I wonder how much he has riding on this bet and he says “It’s out there.” Gonna have to do some more homework. As far as his favorite celebrity beard? He ponders for a while before admitting, “People have been telling me I look a lot like Common. I might have to go with that.” I can see it.
-And when might I actually see a T’Wolves win? Well, there’s Atlanta on Saturday.