Archives For Jonny Flynn

Terrible Love

Steve McPherson —  August 15, 2013 — 4 Comments

If you have not yet read Jonathan Abramsprofile of Jonny Flynn over at Grantland, I recommend you go do that instead of reading this. It’s typically superlative. Abrams does a fantastic job showing the rollercoaster that Flynn’s professional career has been, but there was one part in particular that resonated strongly with me.

“That second year was my toughest year because I never went through something like that, where basketball is your main problem in life,” Flynn said. “Usually it’s your safe haven. Usually, you play basketball and you get away from everything else. But basketball being the biggest problem of my life, being a young kid, I couldn’t handle that. That was a really, really low time in my life, which it shouldn’t have been. You hear people say, ‘You’re in the NBA. You’re getting a check. You’re doing this. You can get your parents a house. Your sister’s good. Your family’s good.’ But when you love basketball, you just want to be able to play. The money is great. Once you get everything out of the way, once you take care of your family, once everything happens, it’s about basketball. During that time, it was tough.”

Most of us are never going to make a living doing what we love, and of those that do, a vanishingly small number will be paid very, very well (as the sixth pick in the 2009 draft, Flynn made just under $3 million his rookie year and just over $9 million for the life of his contract) to do something we not only love but are among the very best in the world at. I certainly don’t belong in the latter category, but judging from Flynn’s story, it seems like it can only be more fraught with distress than what I attempted, which was to be a professional musician. Continue Reading…

Hold the Curry

On draft night in 2009, the Minnesota Timberwolves had the fifth and sixth picks in the draft. They watched Blake Griffin expectedly get drafted with the first pick to the Clippers. They watched the Memphis Grizzlies hilariously draft Hasheem Thabeet with the second pick. Then James Harden and his unaffordable beard were selected to the Oklahoma City Thunder with the third pick. That’s when this story takes a turn.  Continue Reading…

The Wolves’ 3-point shooting last season was pretty atrocious.

Despite being 23rd in the NBA in 3-point percentage, the Wolves just kept chucking up shots from long range. They finished sixth in the NBA in attempts from downtown, even when you adjust for pace. Perhaps one of the reasons the Wolves kept shooting them was because of a confidence built up the previous season.

In the 2010-11 debaclypse season, the Wolves were deadeye shooters as a team. They shot 37.6% from 3-point range, much better than the 33.2% they managed in the lockout season. They had the fifth best percentage off the 10th most attempts. They liked to fire from deep and they were good at it. In fact, it was really the only thing they were good at.  Continue Reading…

In June of 2009, the Sacramento Kings were faced with a very tough decision. Do you draft for flash and marketability or do you try to change the culture of your organization?

At the time, the Kings were known as a “soft” organization, incapable of being consistently tough enough both mentally and physically. This identity, whether correct or not, had been stamped on the organization for the past decade. They were a wonderfully skilled team back in the Vlade-Webber-Peja triumvirate days, but as they continued to lose to the Lakers and couldn’t contain the power of Shaquille O’Neal year after year, they were tagged with the label of not being tough enough and not being a strong defensive team.

Looking back on this stigma, it was complete and utter guano. The early aught Kings were as good and as tough as any team in the NBA. Just because they couldn’t push Shaq out of post position time and time again had nothing to do with measuring just how macho they were as a unit. And yet there they were, labeled with being weak. After Chris Webber blew out his knee, the Kings struggled to find an identity. They traded C-Webb for more manageable roster parts, and tried to shift certain players here and there. After learning that Adelman wasn’t the problem (thanks for that, by the way!) and that turning Peja into Ron Artest wasn’t the solution, the Kings went back to the drawing board.

They had a tough decision to make. Do you draft the hype surrounding Ricky Rubio or do you take on a new identity with the soft-spoken and hard-driving Tyreke Evans?  Continue Reading…

When it comes to the Timberwolves, it make little sense to mince words. After consecutive pleasant surprises against New Orleans and Houston last week, the Wolves’ final four games leading into the All-Star break were pretty disheartening. These games were wrapped in an aura of grim defeat. Physical and emotional fatigue permeated the air.

But let’s please be a little bit generous with our Wolves. These losses were the culmination of an exhausting string of injuries and absences, in which the depleted Wolves struggled–admirably, for the most part, if futilely–to craft some coherence from the ruins.

And so I’m not prepared, on the basis of those four unpalatable losses, to call this season an unmitigated disaster. This is not rock bottom. The truth is that, win totals notwithstanding, this team is an improvement over last year. They have played competitive basketball against some of the best teams in the league. They are more energetic and athletic; they are more creative. They can usually shoot the ball pretty well; sometimes they even engage in the kind of sublimely unconscious ball-movement that is the hallmark of the Triangle offense.

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It’s funny how the schedule works out sometimes. Kevin Love has been engaged in a heated battle with LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin for the past month over an All-Star spot. Now that he’s been named to the team, he has to face them both before Sunday’s festivities. How’s that for congratulations?

Well, let’s ask LaMarcus…

“First of all, I have nothing against Kevin Love, he is a really good player. But I thought All-Star was about making your team better, making your record better. But now I know: It’s about stats, not record.”

How’s that for passive aggressiveness? It’s disappointing that his ire wasn’t directed towards Tim Duncan, an actual undeserved candidate, but then again, his bewilderment with Kevin’s selection was equally understandable on this night. Not only did the Love and the Wolves starters go scoreless for the first eight minutes of the contest, LaMarcus nearly outscored our entire team in a first quarter where we could only muster 14 points to his 11.

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At the moment that Kevin Love scored his 10th and 11th points of this game, notching his 38th consecutive double-double, breaking records held by folks like Kevin Garnett and John Stockton, I thought to myself: boy a double-double isn’t really much of a stat is it? After all, Love has shown us more than once that it’s possible to get one (more than one) without actually playing that well.

I was thinking this because up to that point Love looked like the physically un-well man that he apparently was. He was pale, haggard and listless. Despite his rebounding numbers, he was not pursuing the ball off of the glass with his customary anticipation and abandon. He was struggling to shoot the ball with any balance and rhythm against the massively strong, thick-legged Chuck Hayes (everybody does). He was passive and slow on defense, getting smoked both by Luis Scola, the beautifully dissolute-seeming Argentine (understandable) and by Hayes himself (not so much). (By the way, I love that these two are on a team together. If Scola and Hayes were buildings, Scola would be some boozy, debauched 4AM tapas bar while Hayes would be the last remaining rock factory in Gary, Indiana.)

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On Friday, in my conversation with Sam of Raptors Republic, I said this about our Wolves: “they are grotesquely inconsistent when it comes to playing team defense, sustaining the kind of effort, awareness and concentration that a team needs to compete…the Raptors were worse than terrible in [the last] game; the Wolves are more than capable of returning the favor.” God, did that ever turn out to be true.

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Andrei Kirilenko is really a strange looking dude. He wears his baggy shorts very high on an already high waist. His long hair is about as thin and whispy as human hair can be. Its lighter than air; it seems to just float around his long face. And that face! That face is like a caricature of a face.

Most importantly for our purposes are the arms. AK’s preposterously long arms appear to have been grafted onto his body, an ill-fitting gift from the robot/aliens hovering above us. For a man like this, with this kind of willowy, yet angular, almost synthetic body, and with his great instinct for the ball, playing the Timberwolves must seem like the greatest gift of all.

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Blake Griffin prepares to transcend Samsara.

As Hanny and Jim Pete repeated more than once, Wednesday night’s Wolves-Clippers matchup was likely the most highly anticipated game in the entire history of this storied rivalry.  And it turned out more strangely than I could have imagined.

The strangest of all is a point that Myles alluded to in his writeup: Kevin Love actually did a solid job of forcing Blake Griffin into tough shots, but then couldn’t prevent Griffin from putting back his own miss, often in stunning style. Of course, Love then proceeded to grab 10 boards in the second half while matching up with the 7-foot tall, 300-foot wingspanned human elevator, Deandre Jordan. So I thought this called for some rebounding bullets. There’s also a little Jonny Flynn and David Kahn in this mix.