Simons Says - Dec. 27, 2013












I know you’ve been in this situation before. I know you’ve been in these size 10 Nike’s a Holiday or two. Now, I love the holidays. I am especially thankful for all the things, good and bad, that have made 2013 a memorable year. However, with each passing year, the more I loathe the stuffy and forced holiday parties. I’m not big on the banter, all the forced back and forth conversation that has to take place in festive settings. I’ll take the big shrimp and leave the conversation at bay.

So now, Christmas has come and gone (by the way, hoping your holiday celebrations were joyful and unforgettable) and it’s that time of the year when hoopaholics are turning the page before the ball drops in New York’s Times Square and gearing up. Gearing up for the wind sprint that occurs with the New Year. For Wolves fans, it amp’ed up when a four-pack of ball games were on national TV and none of those games involved Wolves.

We’re not there yet.

Washington rolls into town with a slightly better record (by percentage points) and the Wolves are suddenly underdogs?! Had you joined me at a party just days before Christmas, you’d have thought the Wolves were the Utah Jazz in the eyes of the tipsy Minnesotans grilling me like a tailgate hibachi.

One “fan,” sporting his worst Holiday sweater, was convinced we’ve already seen the best of the Wolves this season. “I got tickets for John Wall when he comes to town. He is a PLAYER. I like seeing the stars when they come to town. They’ll beat the Wolves, heck, when they (the Wolves won in LA November 10) beat the Lakers on the road, that was it. Too many unfamiliar faces and that Love guy can’t carry ‘em.”

Had my buddy Hoop been part of the SimonsSays holiday entourage that night, he’s popped his own cork and well before the toast. That was just one of the ridiculous insights from so-called basketball fans. Believe it or not, those are the people who make it hard for basketball, off the court, to find its footing.

OK, OK. I know the Wolves are two-games under-500 but they beat the Wiz on their Target Center home floor 9-of-10 times. I also know that John Wall is a solid player but nowhere near the great player he thinks he is at this stage of his career. And to think K-Love can’t carry this team is also crazy. I don’t want him to have to but if forced, I do believe he can. He’s THAT good.

Furthermore, to write Team T’Wolves off after 28 games is absurd. I dang near choked on my bacon-wrapped green bean (I only ate one). Fifty-three games remain and over those weeks is where the playoff picture will develop.

We’ve been saying it for weeks; the Wolves are fighting to get consistency in their game. Simple. As. That. Consistency. The Wolves have had a few days off over the holiday to rest and get their heads straight then return to work. They’ll drill on try to execute better in all phases of their game. From 3-point shooting to bench scoring contributions and ball control, the Wolves have some work. These just may be part of that list of New Year’s Resolutions.

So what if 10-teams are in front of the Wolves for the 8 playoff spots. The post season won’t open until mid-April. If we’re shaky down to the final two weeks and still on the outside looking in then, OK, I’ll get worried. Now, not gonna happen.

At the same party, Darren from St. Paul took his best shot. “I heard you talking about power rankings on that PODcast thing you do. The Wolves are getting a generous placement at 15. Rod, I appreciate your optimism but this won’t be their year.”

Those power rankings are no more than weekly polls of whose hot and who’s not. After cooling off from their hot start, the Wolves have floated between 10-and-15 for weeks. The top teams remain Indiana, Miami, Portland and the Spurs. I think its nuts to throw the Wolves off the boat after wins over OKC, Portland and the Knicks and Lakers on the road. I again (sorry Darren) stand unafraid to call this Wolves team playoff worthy. I think they’ll find their way in. I’m just patient enough to allow them the 53-games they have left to make it happen.

The good thing about the holiday party is that it ended as it was getting painful and the spirit of the season grew even stronger as I walked out the door. I laughed though. As much as I loathed being there, Christian Ponder would have hated to be among the group. Other notables thrown under the Minnesota sports bus included Wild Coach Mike Yeo, Twins free agency moves, the Gophers football team, a number of Vikings players and the usual small minded sports suspects.

Twenty-eight games down. Fifty-three left. These guys want it more than you or I do. Trust me. So, enjoy what’s left of the holiday season. Too soon, we’ll be trudging through a January Siberian cold snap here and it’ll be a Wolves winning streak warming us up. It’s coming!! I’m hoping your Holidays have been filled with happiness and the joy of the season. Thanks for dropping in and we’ll see you with the start of 2014! And don’t forget, keep your GameON!

SIMONSSAYS SHORT TAKES

Help someone stay warm:

A big shout out for the fine work of All-Star Kevin Love. More than 4,000 coats on his Coat Drive to help Minnesotans in need! Love partnered with The Salvation Army to gather coats to help those in need this winter. It ended Dec. 18 but the Salvation Army will still take any donations of new or gently used coats. Love is right on point. "Cold weather is here and many people are in need of winter coats," Love said. "With the support of The Salvation Army and Wolves fans, we can make a difference again this winter for those in need."

SimonsSays on TV/PODcast

You can now get SimonsSays in new PODcast form with insight/input from fans just like you and exclusive player interviews! Keep an eye out for SimonsSays PODcast @ Timberwolves.com each and every week. And there is always a Wolves update on my TV show, GameON! Don’t miss an episode of the multi-Emmy nominated GameON! at 10am this Sunday morning on FOX’s My29 and throughout the weekend regionally on MidCo Sports Net.

GameON! is powered by Taste of the NFL & Budweiser and is broadcast in High Definition and can be found on ITunes, on demand via our new GameON! App (free and available for Apple/Android) and online at www.gameontvmn.com. GameON! allows you the opportunity to get up close and personal, to meet your favorite players and fellow fans at our weekly taping location Uptown at Bar Abilene. GameON! offers in-depth interviews with the top players, great food, sports newsmakers and we get you inside your favorite teams (including the Wolves). We’d love for you to “like” us on Facebook at GameOnTvMN. Drop me a note, Rod@KTWIN.com GameON! is also seen in North & South Dakota and Western Minnesota on MidCo SportsNet several times a weekend. We reserve the right to use your e-mails here in SimonsSays at Timberwolves.com.

And last but not least, please catch Rod throughout the day on 96.3 KTWIN-FM. Rod keeps you inside the team with the KTWIN 60SecondSportsUpdate & the signature Prep Playbook which can also be found at www.KTWIN.com.

As we have for years, we talk Wolves. Every day. Highs and lows. We’re there because we are fans, just like you! Keep your GameON! See you soon!


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