Clue number two, you give up? I figured, it was K La Boss on the cut...
Ok, so I'm still in the Land of the Long and White, but I read something that caught my eye: Marc Stein's interview with KG over at ESPN. Now, apparently sometime early this season Simmons wrote something about saving KG from the "mediocrity" of Minnesota. I didn't read that because Bill Simmons' views about the NBA outside of Boston and LA have become extremely one dimensional and are lacking proper research. If I've said it once I've said it a hundred times: no sports writer in the entire country can properly evaluate KG and his place in the Minnesota sports world without living here or being closely connected to him. And KG doesn't let people get close to him. So opinions like that fall on deaf ears. Except for all the other horses out there who are reading him and taking it all as gospel.
Anyway, reading this interview really pulled back a little of the curtain with respect to KG, and I think we're moving towards something big with the organization. Now, as a disclaimer, let me again state that I have watched a total of two NBA games this season. TWO. And neither of them had anything to do with the Timberwolves. However, I have watched KG like no other athlete in my lifetime, and have more respect for him than I have for any other. And because of this, I believe that things are going to work out.
His analysis of the house that he has built is vintage KG. He is the most loyal superstar to ever grace the Minnesota sports scene. If you want to compare him to Kirby, let's not forget that Kirby almost had a contract signed with Boston before re-upping with the Twins in 93. I mean, he says in his autobiography that it was 50-50. I've never heard KG say anything remotely like that. KG knows that the Wolves have rewarded him financially and the fans have rewarded him with unending, unwavering adoration. He knows that he has rewarded us with unrelenting hard work and phenomenal play. What more can he do? In order to leave this team, he has to look himself in the mirror and admit that the desire to win is stronger than his loyalty to fans who have cared for him since his rookie year. In AI's case, I think it's different. I mean, that's Philly. The fans there are unlike any others in the world. They are positively the meanest, loudest, most negative-minded fan base for all of their sports teams. Leaving Philly is no problem. Especially if you know you're going to end up in Denver, the sister-city to Minneapolis. But for KG to leave this place means that he has to forcibly break ties to an incredible group of fans. And that may sound sentimental, but it's the truth.
Look at the average existence of a superstar in the NBA. There are literally dozens of issues that determine where they want to play, and essentially, how their career is shaped. There's coaches, fans, management, teammates, city life, and above all else, money. With KG, you literally throw all those issues out the window. Just watch:
KG is too smart of a basketball player to know that he doesn't know it all. He has relied on coaches for development and knowledge since his days in Mauldin. Flip Saunders made him into a superstar, but not because Flip was an incredible coach. He just let KG develop what was already there. KG knows that the coach is basically responsible for directing the rest of the team. KG's going to do his thing, because he's good enough. The problem that rises so often is when coaches have to come in and "control" players, or "reign them in". When that happens, you never see good results. No coach ever will change KG's style, because he's so goddamned good.
Oh, and KG is incapable of butting heads with a coach. It will never happen. That little sleight he gave Casey in the ESPN interview was honestly the most pointed thing he's ever said about a head coach.
Fans are not an issue with KG. Nobody in Minnesota has ever asked for him to leave. Nobody has ever thought that we would be better off dumping him for draft picks. It doesn't work that way. We love him, he fills the Target Center (or at least, gets it close). Kids idolize him to the degree of Kirby. It will never stop.
HA HA HA. Here is the real problem. Let's come back to this one.
Again, KG rises above. You don't butt heads with KG, because you will lose. You don't challenge him for control of the team, because you will lose. You talk to him, he'll talk back for 10 times longer. You make a move, he'll make a better one. Like Nicky in Casino: you beat him with fists, he comes back with a bat. You beat him with a bat, he comes back with a knife. It's impossible for me to comprehend KG having a problem with his teammates that he doesn't immediately take care of.
This is close to fans, but it's more of the geography and lifestyle of the city. KG has no problem with Minneapolis. He lives in Orono, secluded from all the publicity and hounding that would normally drag him down in a bigger city. A lot of superstars want constant adoration everywhere they go. Not KG. He could care less that it's cold in the winter, he could care less that there's not a glut of night clubs and strip clubs all over downtown. He isn't that kind of man. Yeah, he goes out to Best Buy to buy a DVD and he gets surrounded, of course. But at least he can sleep in peace and quiet, without groupies and posse members constantly harassing him.
It's so big it needs to be capitalized. It's the biggest issue facing NBA players, especially up and coming superstars. Money dictates all else. Why do you think LeBron and Carmelo signed IDENTICAL deals this past summer? Because they know they set the market, and whoever goes first loses. I've said this before, but allow me to repeat one of my theories about professional sports:
To almost every superstar in professional sports, the actual dollar figure they earn means very little. What really matters is respect.
Ok, you think KG cares if his contract is for 100 million or 110 million? What in the hell is 10 more million going to buy? He and his accountant know that the amount of money isn't the issue. He'll never have to want for anything for the rest of his life, and neither will his family and close friends. An extra few million here or there isn't going to change that. The issue is respect. Superstars want a fair deal. It's not greed. It's pride. If someone else who isn't as good as you is making the same amount of money as you, you feel disrespected. And if you tell KG "Well, we're going to give you Paul Pierce money", he would say that's bullshit. He's better than Paul Pierce. A LOT BETTER. And so, that's how it works. If you are one of the elite players in the NBA, you deserve elite money. If you don't get it, there are usually problems. With KG, if he gets it, he's happy. You'll never hear KG dunk a basketball and turn to Glen Taylor during a pre-season game and yell "You gonna pay me now?!?!?". But Shaq did that during his last year with the Lakers. And he's viewed as a goddamned saint.
Really, the only issue that faces KG every day and at every turn is that of management. And it's hard. It's a quagmire, it really is. What can he do? Kevin McHale is one of the worst executives in the NBA, and there are some really shitty ones. Is it possible for KG to demand that Deadzo be fired? No, because Glen and him are dogs from back in the day. Is it possible for KG to demand that Glen sell the team, or just buy it himself? Yeah, in a magical mystery universe that guys who read Pat Reusse believe is possible with just a sprig of fairy dust. He can't do anything. His hands are tied.
If he wants to leave, nobody will ever hold it against him (hopefully). But I don't believe that he ever wants to leave, no matter how bad this team is. Eventually, the Wolves will make another run at things. Eventually some trades will fall into their lap like Spree and Sam. I have faith it will happen again. Lord knows Deadzo isn't going to orchestrate it. In the world of inept GMs, the nice thing to remember is that someone could just call up McHale and drop a little present in his lap, because they're dumber than him.
He built this house, he built up an entire fan base around hard work and spectacular ability. And he's not going to cut and run. I love KG, and he loves all of us back. You give him some decent supporting cast, and you won't hear this talk ever again.
Let's just do that soon, eh?