Simons Says - Sept. 20, 2012
I’m one of those people who will tell you how much I love what I do. I love my job. Yes, much like it has since I arrived in The Land of 10,000 Lakes more than a decade ago; my world revolves around sports of all types. It’s about the people. Sponsors, Fans. Players and team officials and anyone in between.
Each and every week, my production team tapes GameON! for broadcast Sunday’s on FOX’s MY29 (also the new broadcast home of your Timberwolves). We bring in guests from all the pro teams (big emphasis on your Wolves), from local colleges, high schoolers and other sports personalities as well.
I tell you this because our last “taping” was extraordinary. It just happened to be our 100th show taping and yes, certainly a milestone for us. There has been great anticipation on our part for a few months as we approached the “Day of 100.” I’m still not sure why I got so worked up. In fact, it kind of reminded me of those vacation’s you couldn’t wait to take and then when it was all finished and you were home, a shrug of the shoulders told the story.
Getting worked up aside, I was excited to have two dynamic guests on the show. Two players I’ve grown to like a great deal and two athletes who are, for the time being, under appreciated in their leagues.
GameON! welcomed Vikings defensive lineman/sometimes linebacker Everson Griffen and one of my favorite basketball players on the planet, Nikola Pekovic. One of the reasons I looked forward to their participation was this. They both enthusiastically wanted to join us (I’m sure it was more the food from SEVEN Steakhouse/Sushi) and both players enjoyed talking to the other pro athlete right next to them.
Remember, Griffen is a big cat. Man. The book on purple No. 97 is that he goes about 6-foot-3, weighs a lean 297, can run like the wind and hit like a truck. He’s big. But when the Godfather walked in, you would have thought we were watching a repeat of Honey I Shrunk the Kids. Everson and I looked over at Pek as he walked towards us and our mouths dropped.
The two had never met but couldn’t have gotten along better. Both players have not only arrived in their chosen professions but they are important contributors on each field. What makes it fun for me and fun for the dozens of people who showed to watch the rooftop “Skybar” taping (and try to get a word or autograph from the guys) is this. Both Pek and Everson took tons of time to do all that. They took pictures. They ate food and visited some more. They were not snooty. Never a hint of attitude like an I’m better than you moment. Not at all. Great guys. Great guys!
I love what I do because it brings all of these elements together. Not only did the Godfather talk about his return from injury (off-season surgery to clean up bone spurs and put all season radials back on that 7-foot frame) but Pek remembered our interview and visit to practice as the season ended last April. I was impressed. We talked about it all.
We also get the time to show you sides of these players that you might not have known. For instance, I’ll let you know that Pek is a foodie. He can talk Sushi with anyone on any front. SEVEN Executive Chef Brad rolled out a steak for Pek and Everson and before that plate even hit the table, Pek called it. “That’s a nice lookin’ bone-in filet” Pek said. The Chef smiled. Yes, Pek hit it right on the head and has dined there before but he knows his food and he’s careful about what he eats. Pek was amazing (as you will see Sunday at 10:30AM on MY29) with conversation, sushi, steak and he even indulged on special celebratory 100th lollicakes from The Dipp Shop. “Nice meal” he told me. I love my gig.
Pek looks GREAT! He’s lean and fit. Pek is walking and, according to him, “feeling better than ever.” When Pek talks about the upcoming season, it’s not about him. The glad-we-finally-found a center that can pass and shoot and rebound and clog the middle. No, Pek talks about the workouts going on right now with newcomer Brandon Roy. He talks about watching and admiring the work of fellow teammate Kevin Love during the Olympics. Pek smiles and says, yes, Ricky Rubio will be fine. The big fella is a hoopaholic’s quick fix. Basketball conversation straight from the locker room. I love what I do.
The Wolves will get things started in just days and when the first of October rolls around, it’s camp time. Pek agrees with me (as I wrote just a couple of weeks ago) that that this is an exciting time for the Wolves. I’m on the record saying that this will be a better team because of Pek, Love, the off-season additions and in time, a healthy Ricky Rubio. Pek also nodded when I talked about coach Rick Adelman. Coach has been here many times, will enjoy working with this group, he now has more offensive weapons and players not afraid to shoot the ball. He has long defenders. Young legs that can get out in transition and make things happen. He has rebounders. There are scrappy, in your face players who look to shut down opponents. There are players who buy into what Adelman believes. The Godfather agrees so how can I disagree?
I’m grateful to work with outstanding professionals as GameON! grows and specifically at the Wolves/Lynx. I’m blessed to have the opportunity to sit and laugh and eat and talk to great people like Nikola Pekovic and Everson Griffen every week. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This hoopaholic is happy. Thanks for taking a moment to read SimonsSays and take in an episode of GameON! And by the way, the Godfather wanted me to remind you, you read this…you better watch Sunday. Just sayin’.
White House Welcome for the Champions
Loved it when the Lynx finally got their moment with the President at the White House. In case you missed it Tuesday, there they were. Decked out, Championship rings all on and sportin’ a No. 11 jersey for the Commander in Chief.
This Lynx team is the real deal and couldn’t be happier for them. So many good things are happening, from the WNBA title to another great regular season, Olympic gold for three standouts and just in time, a White House visit as we ramp up for the post-season and a serious shot at repeat.
The weather might have been lousy but who cared. An unforgettable visit for the best team in the league. And Mr. Obama had some nice things to say. Here are a few quotes that stood out while I watched:
“This team has come a long way to get here. Just two years ago, the Lynx had the worst record in the WNBA. I’m just saying. But they didn’t let it get them down –- they got to work. GM Roger Griffith is here, and he’ll tell you that it was hard work for him, too. It helped that the team drafted UConn standout Maya Moore. She is becoming a regular here. I mean, this like the fourth time she’s shown up at the White House. She just somehow likes to attract hardware. Picked up veterans like Rebekkah Brunson and Lindsay Whalen, and Cheryl Reeve took over as head coach and has done an extraordinary job.”
I loved that Mr. Obama mentioned nearly every player. From MVP Seimone Augustus to “Mama” Taj, too. The President’s key points:
”So there’s no question that these are some outstanding basketball players. But they also find the time to raise money for breast cancer research, help local students with their reading. I hear they clean up pretty well for their Cat Walk for a Cure fashion show…and as the husband of a tall, good-looking woman and as the father of two tall, fabulous girls, it is just wonderful to have these young ladies as role models. There’s something about women’s athletics -- we know for a fact that when girls are involved in athletics, they do better across the board. They’re more confident. They do better in school.”
Regardless of your political leanings in this voting season, the Lynx visit was a hit and I’m glad the President made the points that we all know and love about the team.
GameON! is on FOX’s MY29 and now the Wolves are too with a franchise-record 78 regular-season games to be televised locally, including 50 on Fox Sports North and 25 on the Wolves' exclusive over-the-air broadcast home, WFTC My29. For the second consecutive season, every Wolves regular season game will be carried live on News Radio 830 WCCO-AM.
The 2012-13 Wolves Home Opener vs. Sacramento will be broadcast on WFTC MY29, beginning a string of 36 consecutive televised games to start the season.
See you on TV
You don’t want to miss GameON! powered by SEVEN Steakhouse/Sushi/Ultralounge & Skybar this Sunday morning on FOX’s My29 at 10:30AM. Our special guests include Wolves standout Nikola Pekovic and Vikings lineman Everson Griffen, our new Fantasy Football insider Jeremy Johnson and MIAC Commissioner Daniel McKane. All shows are broadcast in High Definition and can be found on ITunes & online at www.gameontvmn.com.
GameON! powered by SEVEN allows you the opportunity to get up close and personal, to meet your favorite players and fellow fans at our weekly tapings next door to Target Center at SEVEN (7th and Hennepin). GameON! offers in-depth interviews with the top players, great food, sports newsmakers and we get you inside your favorite teams (including the Wolves). You can connect with me on twitter @GameOnTvMn, friend us on Facebook at GameOnTvMN or drop me a note, Rod@GameOnTvMn.com. We reserve the right to use your e-mails here in SimonsSays at Timberwolves.com.
Keep your GameON! See you soon!