Ah: smell that crisp fall air. It signals the beginning of basketball season here in Minnesota, but it also signals change, and A Wolf Among Wolves is not immune. Founder and bellwether Ben Polk and his wife welcomed a brand new child into the world just recently and so for the time being he has decided to take a step back from the game-to-game work of covering the Timberwolves. Have no fear: he’ll still be writing, just maybe not as much.
We can never fill that hole in our hearts. But we can paper over it and welcome our own kind of brand new child, Mr. William Bohl of Break the Huddle. Bill (or Billy, up to him, really) has been doing fine work covering the Wolves, including an even-handed and thoughtful series of player previews that really sold me on his work. He’ll be pitching in around here, contributing his insight and view of the game. But let me get out of the way and let Bill speak for himself. — Steve McPherson
The love of basketball came to me much later than it did for most of the people who spend their time and energy covering it. For most of my life, the NBA was white noise, humming away as I paid closer attention to other sports, and girls, and trying to make it through 12 years of Catholic school.
Occasionally, clear signals emerged from the fog of the Association and registered with me. I loved Michael Jordan, who was less a player and more a childhood superhero. Since I’m from Wisconsin, I cheered when the Bucks of Allen, Robinson and Cassell pushed the Sixers to seven games in the 2001 Eastern Conference Finals. Since my hometown (Eau Claire, WI) is much closer to Minneapolis than Milwaukee, I switched allegiances when the Garnett-led Timberwolves nearly broke through in 2004.
It wasn’t until I got married and settled in the Greater Twin Cities area that basketball finally bewitched me. My brother-in-law had an extra ticket, and I saw the Wolves hang tough with the Miami Heat in Ricky Rubio’s third NBA game. It was December 30, 2011; two months later, I started a sports blog, and soon it became nothing but Timberwolves content. Finally, the nice people at A Wolf Among Wolves decided to give me a shot, and here we are.
Basketball is both a beautiful game and a vehicle to write, a means to an end and an end itself. My clumsy tautology aside, what I’m trying to say is that I’m drawn to highlight plays, the pure spectacle of the sport, but also the background movements – the statistical evolution that’s blossoming before our eyes, challenging perceptions with ever-improving data, and exploring the myriad factors determining individual and team success. Writing about basketball affords insights that extend beyond the court and into a few of the challenges of living in modern times. Feelings, or numbers? Individualism, or teamwork? How do we best measure what we see?
And while I cannot claim decades-long suffering at the hands of the oft-maligned Timberwolves franchise, the disappointments of the past two seasons have left an indelible mark on me. I’m familiar with the fatalism of many Timberwolves fans, but prefer, instead, to keep a reasonable amount of hope.
I’m humbled to be included in a group of such talented people and I’m excited for the opportunity. As the Wolves take a step forward (we hope), so will I (I hope). Maybe I’m naïve. Let’s find out together, shall we?