Reminiscing With Ratke

We are going to go right into this week, but before that, let me just break something down quick. In his last three games, Kevin Love is averaging 31.3 points, 15 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. The Wolves are 2-1 during that stretch. I haven’t broken down other players throughout the week, but those numbers look like “Player of the Week” numbers if you ask me.

Well, boys and girls, friends and squirrels, let’s boogie.

The Return of the Black Mamba

If you’ve been around a television at all in the last two weeks, you already know this. Some Kobe Bryant guy returned to the Los Angeles Lakers earlier this week and in three games he’s averaging 11 points, 6.7 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game.

More importantly for Jack Nicholson and Leonardo DiCaprio, though, is that the Lakers are 0-3 since his return.

The Lakers are 10-12 as of Saturday morning, good for 12th in the Western Conference.

The truth of the matter right now is that the Lakers are going to struggle in the short term with Bryant on the court. They aren’t used to a guy jacking up 25 shots per game. Those 25 shots weren’t a big deal last season when he carried the Lakers to the playoffs. He was making a good chunk of them. Now, though, he’s hitting just 38.5 percent of his shots.

  • (To be fair, Bryant is shooting just 8.7 times per game. My point being that it’s tough to simply just implement a star into the mix of the things, especially when that star generally needs to the ball to produce.)


  • Los Angeles is in a rough spot now, as it lost Steve Blake for six weeks with an elbow injury. Steve Nash is 39 going on 83 and hasn’t played since Nov. 10. I love Nash, but watching him right now isn’t fun. His game has fallen off worse than my math skills since high school. Then again, he’s 39 years old and has played 1,208 games in his career. We’ll give him a pass.

    With those two out, who in Narnia is going to play point guard for this team? Derek Fisher? THEY NEED YOU!

  • (Wait, Fisher is actually on a team still? In Oklahoma CIty? And he’s playing 13.2 minutes per game? Oh… Well, yeah. I knew that… Is it a good or bad thing that the Thunder need to play Fisher 13.2 minutes per game? Are we sure this is a team that can make a run in the postseason?)


  • This could possibly be good timing, though. Remember last season when Kobe went all nuts on us and started passing like he was Magic Johnson? In late March and early April last season, Bryant had games of 14, 11, 9 and 10 assists.

    It might be best for Bryant to play some of the point while he’s trying to transition his way back to the court. He’s definitely a step slower. That’s obvious. Will he ever be back to the Kobe we know and love? Probably not. He’s 35 years old. We just hope that he doesn’t age or decline as severely as Nash did. That would be painful to watch.

    This team could be tough late in the season at full strength with Bryant and a healthy Nash (if that is possible), Jordan Farmar and Blake. When Dwight Howard left this team in the offseason, we wrote this team off, but look at the roster. Pau Gasol is still a really good big man. , despite the way he’s playing. Bryant will find his groove soon enough. If the Lakers’ bench can continue to play like it has and if the Lakers can even get 50% of Nash, an eighth or seventh seed isn’t crazy talk.

    The most incredible part of this in my opinion, is that the Lakers were able to remain looking like an NBA team with guys like Blake, Xavier Henry, Nick Young (Swaggy P) and Wes Johnson (remember him, Minnesota fans?) leading the way.

    Speaking of Swaggy P (http://instagram.com/swaggyp1), he is truly one of a kind. He’s one of very few NBA players that make me cover one eye because I’m scared that my basketball IQ will take a giant hit. My other eye is wide open for the entertainment factor. What will Swaggy P do tonight? Airball a reverse layup? Dribble it off a fan's head and then shoot it? Ride a camel? Start playing Monopoly while accidentally wearing a football jersey? Nobody knows. I love this guy!

    In related news, Bryant has played three games. Bryant is third in the All-Star voting.

    Yao Ming, you’re up next.

    The Pizza Delivery Boy Strikes Again!

    Just when I thought I had thought I found my calling as a sports writer, Wilson Chandler had other ideas. Chandler had bigger dreams. Chandler thought of me as a pizza boy.

    Folks, let me tell you a quick story about the Denver Nuggets and their locker room on Nov. 27. I had plans of chatting with guard Nate Robinson a bit before the game to chat with him about his recent “Uncle Drew” appearance with Minnesota Lynx forward Maya Moore.

    That’s when Wilson approached me. Here’s what went down at 6:30 p.m., 30 minutes before the teams were going to run really fast up and down the court.

    Chandler: “Hey man, you think I could get a pizza?

    Kyle “Pizza Boy/Writer” Ratke: “Well, I guess there is 30 minutes. I’m sure you could probably eat a pizza in 30 minutes, sure. In fact, I’ve seen my friend Ish eat a pizza in less than 30 seconds.”(I was really confused at this point.)

    Chandler: “Pepperoni and sausage?”

    KPBWR: “Yeah, I’m sure you could probably eat that.” (What did toppings have to do with this? Where the heck is Nate?)

    Chandler: “You think you could get me one?

    Kyle sits in silence, his hands start to sweat and he looks at his feet, not wondering what’s going on. Kyle says nothing. Wilson looks at Kyle funny. Wilson walks away. Kyle pretends to text even though his phone is dead.

    Just seconds after that, Jordan Hamilton grabs a to-go box full of nachos covered with cheese and chicken. Hamilton looks at me and goes, “Hey man, you want one?”

    Of course I wanted one, but after not getting Chandler his pizza, I’m not sure if that was the best move.

    Eventually I chatted with Robinson, but the locker room already viewed me as a failure for not getting the pizza. In fact, I felt like a failure. I disappointed so many people.

    I felt like a failure, until I read this.

    Muahaha, the pizza boy strikes again!

    On a serious note, is it normal for players to eat like this before games? I mean, the last thing I want to do before going on the elliptical (because I’m a man!) is eat nachos and pizza. I’d throw up. How do these guys do it?

    These are also professional athletes. I am a writer who eats Ruffles and drinks Diet Mountain Dew all day.

    By the way, kudos to Shaw for the job he’s done with the Nuggets this season. They are 13-9 after losing their coach, GM, Corey Brewer and they are currently without Danilo Gallinari, arguably the team’s second best player.

    Shameless Plug…

    I’m not above self promoting myself at all, so here goes nothing. The Timberwolves have released their Timberwolves Entertainment Network this week, and my oh my, it’s been a pretty fun ride so far. Head to Timberwolves.com/ten right now (or after you finish this column). There are tons of videos that go behind the scenes and try to capture the personalities of the team’s players.

    This good-looking guy named Kyle Ratke (STOP LAUGHING!) is co-hosting a show along with Social Media Associate Kelly Wilka called “Shot Clock Violation.” The show takes a look at funny/interesting/entertaining social media posts throughout the week involving the Wolves.

    You can view the first episode here.

    And the second one here.

    Well, folks. That’s all I’ve got today. As always, thanks for reading. Enjoy your weekend.