End basketball apathy

Take your watching talents to the NBA Playoffs.

by Mike Munzenrider

The Twin Cities have not excelled at basketballing as of late. WeâÄôve been underserved by our basketball teams, so a bit of apathy from fans is to be expected for many reasons.
Students at the Univeristy of Minnesota saw our own Golden Gophers shuffle through the season with a middling record of 17-14 and be unceremoniously knocked out of the Big Ten tournament by Northwestern, 75-65.
If weâÄôre to call a plus .500 record âÄúmiddling,âÄù then itâÄôs hard to find a kind adjective for my woefully beloved Minnesota Timberwolves of the National Basketball Association.
Under the tutelage of second-year general manager David Kahn and head coach of the same vintage, Kurt Rambis, the Timberwolves have gone an incredibly painful 32-128 over the past two seasonsItâÄôs no stretch to say that the Twin Cities arenâÄôt what youâÄôd call NBA towns. In fact, a recent survey by Brand Keys Inc. ranked the Timberwolves 27 out of 30 in fan loyalty.
I understand it. The product on the court has been dreadful for the past couple of seasons. If someone is way more excited about an afternoon game at Target Field than Kevin LoveâÄôs double-double streak, thereâÄôs no surprise there.
But if sports are to be the opiate of the modern day masses, why arenâÄôt we going for the maximum dose? Surely fans should still find pleasure in watching the NBA Playoffs, which begin April 16.
The NBA features some ridiculous characters. Since being traded from to the Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett helped win the NBA championship in 2008. The apparent psychotic break he suffered (and never recovered from) during the 2008 on-court celebration made him one of the most fascinatingly magnetic insane personalities in the NBA. Currently, heâÄôs headed to the playoffs healthy once more.
Also, donâÄôt forget that Ron Artest thanked his psychiatrist last year after winning the championship with the Los Angeles Lakers.
There are plenty of ridiculous athletes as well. Mere mortals would vaporize attempting to take a charge from Lebron James. Love him or hate him âÄî or even if youâÄôre indifferent to James âÄî itâÄôs good to know that you should never try to physically stop him from taking his talents wherever he wants.
If intriguing personalities and Olympian-like beings arenâÄôt convincing enough, thereâÄôs always the schadenfreude, that oh-so-Minnesotan pleasure in the misfortune of others.
Even if youâÄôre not a fan, you can tune in to hopefully watch JamesâÄô much ballyhooed Miami Heat go cold, or the New York Knicks get nixed or the Lakers just lose.
There are also some surprising teams leading each conference. Our now proxy-by-proximity-team, the Chicago Bulls, are atop the Eastern Conference rankings, led by probable MVP Derrick Rose.
In the Western Conference, the San Antonio Spurs are poised to take the top seed, led by the Senator Palpatine-esque Gregg Popovich.
All these specifics may mean very little to you if you donâÄôt follow the NBA. But there are plenty of appealing things about the game, even for outsiders. The more coarse appeal of the game is that it features athletes that use a lot of colorful language in a lot of colorful ways. Elbows fly; the blood follows. Anybody who says basketball is not a contact sport is lying to you.
The less coarse appeal of the game is that it features incredible athletes moving in incredible ways. There are smiles, laughs and plenty of high fives. Players are always helping each other up off the ground.
One column wonâÄôt turn around the state of basketball in the Twin Cities, but itâÄôs a start. Maybe if we give the NBA Playoffs some love, weâÄôll get some love in return.