You probably know the stats: the Wolves currently have 15 players on their roster. Ten of those players are what you might call “white.” Of the 12 players likely to see meaningful minutes this year, nine are white. This is a whiter team, both proportionally and in sheer volume, than any of the legendarily white mid-’80’s Celtics teams. This is about as white, I’d wager, as an NBA team can possibly be.
I bring it up not to encourage or endorse the message board/comment section paranoia that inevitably buzzes around issues like this. There’s no conceivable reason that Kahn/Adelman/Taylor (or whichever alliance of the above is actually making the Wolves’ personnel decisions) would have made skin color a guiding roster-building principle. Yes, Minnesota is a pretty white place and yes, we are crazy about Joe Mauer and hockey but we’ve also screamed ourselves hoarse in praise of KG and Kirby and Adrian Peterson and Clem Haskins among many others. The truth is, Minnesotans love a winner, just like everybody else; we’ll go nuts for anybody who can deliver the thrill. In fact, I find the feat of assembling this team even more fabulously weird for its un-intentionality.
But although almost nobody has failed to notice and remark upon the Wolves unconventional racial make up, our discussion of the issue has generally begun with the glib, occasionally paranoid one-liner and ended with a gaping moment of silence. The cultural complexity, the understandable and well-founded fear of giving offense, the sheer strangeness: it all tends to leave us a little stupefied.