Archives For Steve McPherson

Hardwood Compendium

Benjamin Polk —  October 25, 2012 — 7 Comments

Friends, lovers. If you like basketball it is essential for you to check out Hardwood Paroxysm’s ridiculously exhaustive, deeply metricized, lushly illo’d “Hardwood Paroxysm 2012/2013 Season Preview Guide.” This is a season preview I guess, but calling it that is kind of like calling Ulysses a nice, short story about Dublin. It contains: offseason transactions; salary numbers; efficiency stats; mini-essays; esoterically referential categories and categories about categories. It contains awesome sentences like this (under the heading of “Freakish Numbers and I Don’t Mean that Dirty Number 8″): “Just how much worse was Wesley Matthews at attacking the basket than in 2010-2011? 14.4% worse.”

Best of all, from where I sit, it contains much good work from our own Steve McPherson, including a nice little essay on our Wolves on page 77 (!), in which uses Schrodinger’s cat (that’s right) as a metaphor for Wolves’ multiple entangled possible futures. Check that out.

I have but one quibble. In his essay under the brutally appropriate category of “Doomsday vs. Manna From Heaven,” Jordan White has this to say: “It all starts with Ricky Rubio. Kevin Love may be Minnesota’s best player but Ricky Rubio is arguably the most important.” Whiiiich is true in its way, but only if Love avoids, say, breaking his hand doing knuckle pushups, missing the first 20 games of the year and possibly sinking the entire season. Anyway, have a look. I’ll see you in a week when you finally emerge from the wormhole.

Steve McPherson, ruminating.

As Heraclitus told us some years back, “nothing is permanent except change”. If you’ve ever been an alive person you know that this fact is a little sad, a little hopeful and inexorably true. So it is today. Our good friend A Wolf Among Wolves co-founder and very tall man Myles Brown is leaving us for olde New York and a sweet job at Nike. This is a great loss for us but its a fabulous opportunity for Myles, so if you see him on the street, give him a pound. We will, of course, miss his contributions here at the site (although we very much hope he’ll be able to cover the Wolves’ NY/BK excursions) but we’ll miss even more the infuriating and hilarious courtside conversations, his magnificent obsessions with enigmas like Kanye West and Kobe Bryant and, most of all, his friendship. Thanks Myles, we’ll miss ya.

Of course, this is also an opportunity for us to renew ourselves and, in bringing Steve McPherson into the fold, I think we’ve done that in spectacular fashion. You may know Steve from his contributions to the local music scene, both as a musician and a writer. Or you may follow his Twitter feed (@steventurous) or know his very insightful, culturally attuned and funny basketball writing at Feelings Aren’t Numbers and Hardwood Paroxysm. Any man who can drop references to both Homer and Anais Nin while also delving deep into advanced stats is a man after my own heart. So welcome, Steve, we’re thrilled to have you. Here’s the man in his own words:

The late, great Mitch Hedberg had a bit where he talked about how after he said he liked to drink red wine, this girl asked him, “Doesn’t it give you a headache?” “Yeah,” he replied. “Eventually. But the beginning and the middle parts are amazing. I’m not going to stop doing something because of what happens eventually. ‘Mitch: do you want an apple?’ No, because eventually it will be a core.”

That joke can teach you a lot about following the Timberwolves. And not just because they’ve been trying to build a core for the last several years. The beginning and middle parts of the first stage of my Timberwolves fandom were amazing: I watched Kevin Garnett turn from a promising young player into one of the game’s top power forwards, then watched the Wolves advance through a tough seven game series against the Sacramento Kings in 2004 under his leadership, the leadership of the league’s MVP.

Then they faced the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals and the headaches started settling in. There were many and they were legion and had names like Clippergate, Troy Hudson, Randy Foye, David Kahn, Jonny Flynn, Manna from Heaven, and the list goes on.

The kind of brilliant part of the Mitch Hedberg bit, though, is the recognition that we are better able to accept suffering the better able we are to live in the moment, to appreciate the little things, to accept the struggle not because it leads to glory but for the struggle itself. Like Jimmy Dugan says in A League of Their Own, “It’s supposed to be hard. The hard is what makes it great.”

I had an English teacher in high school who explained the idea of tragedy in literature with the following anecdote: A man is walking through the desert when he comes upon another man crouched over a bloody meal, a gaping hole in his chest. The first man asks, “What is it you eat?” and the second man replies, “My heart.” “How does it taste?” he asks and the man replies, “It is bitter.” He asks, “Then why do you eat it?” “I eat it because it is bitter,” the man answers, “and because it is my heart.”

And when I was sixteen, I thought that was so badass. It probably wasn’t a good sign. It’s probably why I’m a musician, a graphic designer, a writer, a teacher—nothing with a clear or certain path to monetary success. It’s why I follow the Timberwolves. I’m for underdogs, for unrequited loves, for hopeless romantics, for eternal pessimists, for cynical optimists. My glass of wine might be half empty, but I’m calling for another and I’m looking forward to drinking it with A Wolf Among Wolves.