Another disappointing season, another letter to The Ticket.
Timberwolves 2005-2006 Season Wrap-Up
It's me again, "One Shot", DeROK. Another season has come and passed, and it's time for another letter. I wrote my first one after your All-Star break interview last year. After watching you break down like that, and breaking down a bit myself, I needed to tell you how much respect I had for you. How much it meant to see an athlete who had every right to make it "all about himself", turn around and make it "all about the team". Your humility, your passion, your burning desire to win: they make you one of a kind. And as you sat there, bearing the weight of this franchise on your back, I wanted to speak on behalf of all your fans and let you know we would never, ne-ever call Kevin Garnett a loser.
Yeah Kevin, Momma may have said "there will be days like this", but things are starting to get a little ridiculous. Our bad days have gone from bad months, to a bad season, and now to bad years. And I don't think there's a single person affiliated with this organization who isn't sick over the way things have played out. And I'm sure none more so than you. After seven straight years in the lottery, followed by seven straight first round exits, we deserved a whole lot more than falling one Sam Cassell hip short of a title. After fighting our way out of the darkness, we earned our time in the sun. But all we got was a brief glimpse of the daylight before we were plunged back into the abyss. It's not right, and it's certainly not fair. But the worst part of it all is that, from where we stand, there doesn't seem to be a way for us to crawl out...
...Except to leave.
That's why I'm writing you this time - because I'm not sure that we haven't seen you play your last game in a Timberwolves uniform. The rumors have been swirling like a Midwest tornado, and like a good soldier, you've been shooting them down. But despite all the reassurances that have been made, I'm still not 100% sure that you'll be a Wolf in November. And so I need to say my peace. I don't know how you'll get this, seeing as I doubt you sit around Googling yourself, but I need to say it anyway. You've been too big a part of my life for the past eleven years to let you walk away without a word. So here it is...
I would never be selfish enough to ask you that if I honestly didn't think it was in your best interest. You've given me far too much over the course of your career to offer you anything less than the truth. And the truth is that leaving Minnesota is the wrong decision. Your best case scenario in another city, still doesn't equal the worst you could do in Minneapolis. Because winning title after title in L.A., or Chicago, or anywhere else will never give you what you already have by staying with the Timberwolves...
Us. Your fans.
Sure if you switch teams, you'll immediately be embraced by a whole new group of supporters. And if you bring them a title or two, you'll probably go down in history as one of the greatest players to ever wear their uniform. But what they will never be able to do is replace us. They just can't.
They weren't there when you first stepped on to an NBA court. They didn't feel the betrayal when Steph walked out of town, or the shame of the Joe Smith scandal. Their hearts didn't break when Malik passed away. They didn't suffer with their head in their hands for seven years as the frustration grew with every elimination. And they didn't stand there with tears in their eyes, when you finally brought us out of the first round.
They weren't there. We were. And that's why a title won in another city will never shine as bright as it should. Because as the cameras flash and the confetti falls and you raise that trophy into the air, you'll be lifting it towards a crowd that only brought you halfway. You'll be celebrating your crowning achievement - the culmination of all your blood, sweat and tears - with a group of people who never bled with you, who never cried with you, who never felt your pain. Because they weren't there. We were.
I know what everyone is thinking. I know. I realize that with where the Wolves stand right now, we can't even begin to think about a title. We just finished the season with the 6th worst record in the entire league. That's the bottom 20%. And so while winning a title in another city may not be as sweet, it's better than no title at all, right?
I'm not saying that championships aren't important. That's why you play the game. That's why the fans keep coming back year after year. It's the ultimate prize. But at the end of the day, when the camera crews head home, the confetti is swept off the floor, and the history books get closed, all you're left with is a ring - a piece of metal. I know what it symbolizes, and I realize how valuable it is. But never, not for one second, does its value ever determine your own.
They won't let you believe that. They, the media, the press, the sports junkies, they all say that your only worth as many trophies as you've won. Well in that case, I guess Rasho's a greater center that Patrick Ewing. The argument just doesn't hold up. Nevertheless, they keep pounding away, stating that your ultimate value is going to be determined by whether or not you get that ring. And now that you've entered the second half of your career, their voices will just keep getting louder.
Sure, they'll claim to have your best interest at heart. They'll say that they want you to go down as one of the greatest power forwards in history. That's what they'll say. But they're really just looking for a story. Never forget that these same people who are crying out for you to jump ship and finally get what you deserve are the same people who were ready to crucify you for using the word "uzi". And yet they keep telling you that a ring determines your legacy...
Ask the Hurricane Katrina victims what determines your legacy. Ask the students who have benefited from the 4XL Foundation. Ask your OBF. Ask your mom. Ask Brandi.
It isn't a ring.
What determines your legacy is who you are and what you do for others. And what you've done for this franchise, for Minnesota, for your fans is something that no championship could ever hope to compare to. Your legacy is here with this team. This is where you belong.
And so while walking out the door and heading off to greener pastures might earn you props on Sports Center or the Daily News, it will ultimately taint the greatest part of your career - us, your fans. A relationship like that is something that Shaq with all his titles, is never going to have because he's played in three cities. Orlando and L.A. have forgotten him. Miami hasn't had him in his prime. But you? You're ours.
And we're yours. You have made us rise to our feet more times than we can count. And I'm sure that we've done our share of picking you up off the ground as well. It's been eleven amazing years full of unbelievable pains and indescribable joys. And whether you win a championship or not is never going to change what you mean to us. Just look at Kirby. Did you see how much he meant to Minnesota? It wasn't because of Game 6. It was because he made the town his own. He made the people his own.
Kevin, we're yours.
I am nowhere close to having all the answers. I honestly don't have a clue how this team is going to turn around, or if it ever will. But I do know this: Nothing you ever accomplish on the basketball court will ever hold as much meaning as playing the final game of your career in a Timberwolves uniform. And I hope against all hope that it's a career that includes you hoisting a trophy towards Malik's jersey in the rafters.
You'll just have to stay and find out...
True Blue Forever,