I can’t say that I’ve been excited for start of any of our last three seasons. That may not be the politically correct thing to say as one of this team’s biggest fans, but it’s the truth. How excited can you possibly be about a season where the primary goal is to be just bad enough that we don’t forfeit our draft pick to the Clippers? When that’s the unwritten standard, and, truthfully, the only smart way to play your cards, it’s extremely difficult to get fired up for 82 games. Sure, there’s something to be said for standing by your team and supporting your young players as they develop, but that just wasn’t going to cut it for me – not after the way we’d all been burned by our front office. Still, I did my civic duty, tried to look for positives, kept our website running smoothly, and continued to hope for the day far away where maybe things would be better. I just did so without a whole lot of passion.
This is the part of the article where you’re probably expecting me to say something like, “But this year, everything has changed and the excitement is back!”. I wish it was. The truth is, as happy as I am with the regime change in the front office, with our solid coaching staff, with our cap space, with Johnny Flynn, and with our huge bargaining chip named Ricky Rubio, I’m still not very excited about the prospects of our 2009-2010 season. Make no bones about it, the tide is turning for the Minnesota Timberwolves and their are brighter days ahead. However, there’s also a pretty decent chance that the Wolves will post an even worse record this year than the last. Big Al is returning from a torn ACL. So is Corey Brewer. Kevin Love is out for two months, and Johnny Flynn, while potentially our best shot at a second-coming of Garnett, is still a rookie point guard. As things stand, it seems the Wolves are going to have a very difficult time keeping up with the competition on a nightly basis. Again, I’m totally on board with the strategy of developing our youngsters, getting a good draft pick, making a move in free agency this summer, and cashing in on Rubio down the road, either as a more experienced player or in a trade. I’m just not overly looking forward to enduring the lumps we’ll undoubtedly have to take this year as this franchise turns the ship back towards respectability.
So what’s the point of this post on opening night, other than to rain on everyone’s parade? It’s to lay all the cards out on the table, be completely honest, and ask this team to do one thing – bring the excitment back! I’ll be the first to admit it – these past five years have taken their toll on me. The losing, the ineptitude, and, most of all, the hopelessness have drained my passion for this team. I want to care about this team again. I need to care about this team again. But it’s not going to happen by flipping some internal switch and pretending like the past never happened. This team will have to do it by giving me a reason to care again. Back in July, I thought that reason may have been Ricky Rubio. Now, maybe it will be Johnny Flynn. Maybe it will be Al Jefferson coming back, slimmer, more agile, and able to play the defense required of a true alpha dog. Maybe Kahn swings a blockbuster trade. Maybe some one else will step up big and make it happen. All I know is that it’s been too long since I’ve stood and cheered, completely proud to be a follower of this team. It’s been too long since I’ve felt my heart racing and my stomach in knots over a close game that actually mattered. It’s been too long since I’ve felt that being a Timberwolves fan actually counted for something. It’s just been far too long.
The Timberwolves get their first chance to change that tonight. Here’s hoping…