Like novelist Terry McMillan's "Stella," Troy Hudson "found his groove" last season. After he posted career highs in scoring (14.2 ppg), assists (5.7) and minutes (32.9 mpg) in his first season with the Timberwolves, Hudson came up huge during the 2003 NBA Playoffs.
His shooting star shone on the national stage last May. Throughout the closely contested six-game series against the Los Angeles Lakers, Hudson put on a virtuoso-like performance to the tune of 23.5 points per outing.
"Troy had a heckuva year for us," Wolves assistant coach Randy Wittman said on Hudson's best season in the NBA. Hudson rarely missed a beat in 2002-03, which stayed in rhythm with his life.
Music has always been a big part of his life. His parents loved the blues and R&B, and their son grew to love such legends as Albert King and Tyrone Davis. "Growing up, it was always 'old school' music," Hudson said. Hudson gravitated toward being a musician himself. He's a performer, writer and producer. He has an elaborate set-up in his home. "I have a recording booth, big mikes and a big board to mix in," Hudson explained. "I've got everything I need to make an album."
"T Hud," Hudson's nickname and stage name, has three rap albums to his credit and has written around 800 songs. A drum machine usually accompanies him on road trips. "I have my own label — Nutty Boyz Entertainment — and I have three artists (that I manage)," the Wolves' hip-hop guard continued.
How has his music helped his basketball game? "Whenever I'm not on the basketball court, I'm doing music," he says. "It helps me to relax. It takes my mind off my work, which is basketball."
Last season, Hudson's primary job got rave reviews. He finished fourth in the NBA in free throw shooting — 90 percent, the second-highest percentage in franchise history. The wiry guard had three 30-plus scoring games and recorded six point/assist double-doubles.
In his first year as a full-time starter, Hudson led the NBA with 9.2 assists for the month of February, and finished 16th among league leaders in that category. He played so many minutes that it took its toll near the end of the regular season. "I played more minutes last year than I've played in any season in the NBA," the seventh-year veteran said. "I was a little fatigued at the end."
However, once the postseason began, Hudson got his second wind. In Game 2 against L.A., he scored a team postseason-record 37 points. In his words, it was "a big confidence booster."
"Whenever you have a performance like that," he said, "there might be higher expectations in the upcoming season." However, those expectations were temporarily tabled after the Timberwolves acquired veteran guard Sam Cassell from Milwaukee. Almost immediately, a "quarterback controversy" emerged — who would start at point guard, Sam or Troy?
Both players welcomed each other's presence, however. "We have a great relationship," said Hudson. "I can learn a lot of things from him, the same like I did with Rod Strickland last year. I always pick up from guys who know the game, and I have a lot of respect for Sam."
Furthermore, Hudson said confidently, "I know that I'm going to get my playing time. I'm going to get the same minutes that I got in the past. Whatever I have to do to help, I'll do that because that's my job. The team focus this year is to win the title."
During the preseason, the Wolves had both Hudson and Cassell on the floor at the same time, with good results. "When we're out there, we are going to produce," Hudson predicted. Unfortunately, late in the team's final preseason game, Hudson badly sprained his right ankle, which forced him to begin the 2003-04 campaign on the Injured List.
On Dec. 20, Hudson made his season debut against Indiana. He played 13 minutes, but clearly was rusty as he missed six of eight shots from the field. "It will take awhile to get my rhythm," he said afterward. But his comeback was put on hold again. After he played only 10 minutes in his second game back, doctors told Hudson that his ankle still wasn't healed enough for him to play.
While waiting to get back on the court again, Hudson spent his time rehabbing and rapping. "I use music as an escape," he said. Hudson hasn't abandoned his musical roots, which often gets him some good-natured shots from friends. "They say, 'Man, you are old fashioned' whenever I put on Tyrone Davis or somebody. That music I'm listening to, that old music, sounds better than music that's out today.
"I don't listen to new music — not that I don't like it," he said. "I just like the old soul music by Teddy Pendergrass and Marvin Gaye. I like that type of sound. People my age or younger might not throw on a Marvin Gaye album, but they heard that album before because after you put that new hip-hop beat (to it), it becomes a hit."
But he's more than anxious to make string music on the court. "I'm very grateful of things that have happened to me in my career," he said, the injury notwithstanding. "I've worked hard and appreciate every opportunity that I get."