Welcome to Paradise

Photo by Merwinglittle dear

You guys been enjoying the playoffs? I know we sure have. The organ-displacing defense; the painful missed opportunities; the bloody faces; the staggering disappointments: yup. What else? Al Sharpton in a Spanish-language Steve Nash jersey? Red-faced, auto-tuned coaches rapping about intensity (or whatever)? Rajon Rondo emerging from his Walkabout an unguardable willow-limbed, fully flowered man? Lebron rendered googly-eyed and bewildered? Kobe summoning spirits? Amare playing D? We are transfixed. There’s so much more to say.

Here at A Wolf Among Wolves, we follow, curse, bitterly remember the Minnesota Timberwolves. These playoffs remind us Wolves lovers of two important things. The first is that NBA basketball can be played with a thick, feverish intensity that can be pretty hard to come by on your average February Wednesday at the Target Center. We can conjure the memories–Pharaoh Garnett’s maniac stare; Chris Webber’s sickeningly close Game 7 near  buzzer-beater; the Sam Cassell testicle dance–but they’re getting fainter every day.

The second is about the narratives that we  can’t resist spinning about the teams we can’t resist loving (especially we pundits–I mean, you’ve got to write about something, right?).  These narratives are, at best, retrospective. At worst, they’re totally illusory. We thought we knew that Lebron was bound for glory; for years, we spoke about it with tones of inevitability. Remember when, some years ago, before a playoff game against the Pistons, Donyell Marshall went up to the boy King James (I mean, just look at that nickname! Seriously!) and whispered to him, “this is when you cement your legacy”? How quaint and naive does that seem today?

For us, when KG won the MVP, when Cassell and Professor Sprewell joined up, we thought that we were at the beginning of a long, lovely story.  As it turned out, the most meaningful narrative was buried deep under all the (as it turned out) misplaced hope; the whole thing was already beginning to unravel. KG won his title, but with another team. He was recognized as the genius defender of his era, but only in retrospect. The Foye/McCants/Wittman era beckoned. Turns out (shocker) that nothing is pre-destined; these are just stories we tell ourselves. The game is subject to the same nonsensical, market-driven chaos as is real life.

On that note, welcome to A Wolf Among Wolves. In many ways, we Wolves followers are lucky. This team is still so unformed, so opaquely new, that we’re largely unburdened with these back-breaking narratives. We’re faced with none of the Dallas’s or Cleveland’s painful reckoning. We’re free of the Lakers’ crushing expectations. We’re able to look on as the small stories, the various styles and personalities weave together over time to hopefully form something of consequence. We don’t want to lie to you: this is not going to be easy or always pleasant. We just might have to sit through another 40-point loss to the Warriors. But you should join us anyway. We think it’s gonna be fun.

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0 thoughts on “Welcome to Paradise

  1. Hey Ben, congrats on joining the Truehoop Network! I really enjoyed working and chatting with you during and after games in that 08-09 season, especially waiting for those post-game questions with McHale. I look forward to reading more of your work!

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