Ratke On The Road | Off To Toronto

Thurday, 5:42 a.m. 

Good morning. You're probably not up at this time. And if you are, you're probably Jeff Munneke. I'm convinced Munn doesn't sleep. 

I took an Uber to the airport. After feeling alert for 10 minutes after the Uber picked me up, I now feel like I could sleep on a McDonald's bathroom floor.

What a win last night for the Wolves. After the first half, it looked like it was going to be one of those games. But it wasn't. Well, not in a negative way at least. Karl-Anthony Towns was a machine and it was nice to see the team upset the Raptors a day before the All-Star Break. For a young team, it would have been easy to give up. But they didn't. Good for them.

All-Star talk now.

We have a great crew here as far as content goes - two from our broadcast team and a very good looking web reporter (OK. Average looking).

Today's plan is to get to Toronto. After that, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine will have their media tour early this afternoon. This lasts about 45 minutes and it includes pictures, interviews and commercials. They cram everything they possibly can into this 45 minutes. After that, Towns will have his media tour. 

I'm waiting to get on the plane now. Do I get a coffee? Do I get a Red Bull? Do I fall asleep on this odd man's shoulder next to me? I don't know.

It's going to be a fun and busy weekend for the Wolves in Toronto. 

Make sure to follow all the action by following us on Twitter:

That's about all I've got for right now. I'm not sure when I'll be checking back in. From the media tours today, expect a photo gallery, some videos and maybe a quick write-up.

Talk to you folks soon. 

Thursday, 3:49 p.m.


So, it’s really cold outside, but luckily, everything is really close (unlike last year in New York).

I don’t have a whole lot to report. Zach LaVine and Andrew Wiggins finished up their media tour, which lasted about 45 minutes to an hour long. Karl-Anthony Towns will be doing his tour a bit later today.

A few tidbits from the day so far:

  • Danny Granger, who was doing some work for Sirius XM Radio, told LaVine that he had his doubts about the Slam Dunk Contest being legitimate (again) until he saw LaVine in the contest last season. There will be plenty of that talk throughout the weekend.
  • I don’t have any clothes. Well, besides the ones I’m wearing. My bag has gone missing, so that’s about as fun as a flat basketball. I’m trying to not get upset about this. I’m also hoping to not work up a sweat. These clothes can’t go smelly! The man at the airport told me my bag might be in Minneapolis. Or they might not be. So this is promising.
  • Bill Russell ate lunch two tables from our content group. These are things that happen during All-Star Weekend that make you feel like you are in Narnia.
  • I was walking outside with no jacket (because I’m an idiot) and Frank Isola of the New York Daily News told me to “put a freaking jacket on, man!” I tried to comeback with something smart but I just muffled. Good talk, Frank!

That’s it for now. I’ll check in after KAT’s media tour if there’s anything worthwhile. Make sure to check out everything else we've got on the site. Timberwolves.com is your spot for all Timberwolves-related All-Star content. 

Goodbye, friends.

Friday, 2:14 p.m.

Sorry on the delay of this post. I know you’ve been waiting all day for this post. If that’s actually the case, well, you are having a pretty chill Friday.

So, what’s happened today, you ask?

The Rising Stars had their practice. That includes Zach LaVine and Karl-Anthony Towns of the USA Team and Andrew Wiggins of the World Team.

The main event today was the All-Star Media Availability. It’s kind of a mess, but it’s a chance to talk to all of the All-Stars, that is if you get a question in.

A few quick hits from the availability:

  • All eyes were on Kobe Bryant. That’s not surprising at all. It’s Bryant’s last All-Star game. James Harden was asked if he would pass to the Black Mamba for the last shot. Ummm. Duh?
  • There was a lot of good talk about the Wolves. I’ll transcribe later (probably tomorrow or Sunday), but this is what I can remember: Will Barton and Aaron Gordon (good luck, guys) described how effortlessly LaVine made it look while dunking. Chris Bosh said that Towns has a chance to be a big-time star in this league. One concern he has, though, is the amount of jumper Towns takes. Klay Thompson was very impressed with how good Andrew Wiggins already is and reminded us all that he’s doing all of this at 20. And Draymond Green was very high on the Wolves, pretty much saying that he thinks that they are building their team similar to how the Warriors did.
  • It was weird seeing Tyronn Lue representing the East as head coach.

Plans for the rest of the day? Well, we get a slight break before taking off for the Rising Stars Challenge around 5 p.m. The game doesn’t start until 9, but we are going to try to get settled. Hopefully this turns into some behind-the-scenes stuff. We’ll see.

Until then, I’m going to go for a bit of a run. I accidentally just ate a whole bag of trail mix and I’m not full, so that’s kind of concerning.

We’ve got plenty of content already up on the site. Our broadcast team has done a great job per usual.

At some point today, I’ll be posting a Q&A with Milt Newton and our web associate Todd Barin will be previewing tonight’s Rising Stars Game. After that, expect plenty of content revolving around tonight’s game. Until then, go eat some trail mix. 


Saturday, 1:18 a.m.

Not much to report that you don't already know. Zach LaVine won the Rising Stars MVP. When you think about the fact that he's probably the favorite for the Slam Dunk Contest for tomorrow, well, this could be a very busy weekend for LaVine.

It's also been a busy night for our content crew. Plenty of good stuff coming on the site. Just not right now. Because it's 1:18 a.m. and I want to sleep. I'll talk to you cats bright and early.

Saturday, 12:13 p.m.

Good afternoon, my fine friends.

It looks like the Wolves have taken over All-Star Weekend again, which means late nights for everyone. Which is a good thing. It means these guys are doing a great job in representing the team. It also means that I’m so cool with hotel coffee right now even if it tastes kind of moldy.

I won’t recap last night’s game, because I already did.

OK. Fine. A mini recap:

  • LaVine scored 15 in each half. Had a great stretch in the third.
  • Wiggins might have won MVP had the World team won. He finished with 29. He said after that KAT is going to win next year.
  • KAT started off slow, but ended with 18.

A shameless plug. I chatted with Zach Harper of CBS Sports yesterday about the Timberwolves in Toronto. As always, Harper was great. Some humor mixed with actual basketball intelligence. Please listen if you haven’t already.

So, what’s cracking for today, you ask?

I’ve already hopped on the elliptical to watch “Jessica Jones,” so you could say today is off to a great start. I’m drinking hotel coffee right now, which again, mold.

Shortly, I’ll be heading to the Special Olympics Unified Game at the Enercare Center. Towns will be coaching the game. Lindsay Whalen will be there at 4 for a Special Olympics event as well, so we plan on chatting with her. You can probably expect a podcast later today or tomorrow (our day off, kind of). If you don’t know, Whalen is one of the coolest people around. It should be fun.

And after that, tonight’s madness begins. We’ll get to All-Star Saturday Night around 5:45 p.m. All-Star Saturday Night starts at 7 p.m. CST. The Skills Competition will begin right away. Towns will face off in the first round against Draymond Green. Remember, there are bigs and guards in this contest, so it should be interesting and could turn ugly. The biggest thing for the big guys will be the pass.

After that, LaVine will be defending his Slam Dunk title. You’ve got to think he’s the overwhelming favorite, but watch out for Aaron Gordon. Everyone I’ve talked to said the guy is dangerous. We’ll see.

I’ll check back in later tonight.

Also, it’s -9 degrees here. I never thought I’d say I miss Minnesota weather. 

Sunday, 11:03 a.m

Oh my goodness. Where to begin.

What a freaking weekend it was for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Last night was incredible. I’ve already wrote about Towns winning the Skills Competition and LaVine winning the Dunk Contest, but I’ll try to give you a few behind-the-scenes takes in this post.

First, Towns shocked the basketball world and won the Taco Bell Skills Competition as a big man. In practice earlier that morning, Towns struggled making the pass through the hoop. That was a problem in the first round against Draymond Green. Towns told me that his plan if we missed his first one was to just get two passes off as soon as he could. If you miss three passes, you move on by default. That’s exactly what he did.

KAT’s dad spoke to us after the event and told us how big this was for big men everywhere. Sure, it was just a Skills Competition, but nobody gave the big guys a chance. Towns, a 20-year-old rooke (!), flipped the script. If I had to guess, there’s a good chance he’ll defend his title next year in Charlotte. The question is, will he be an All-Star or in the Rising Stars Challenge?

And to the Dunk Contest. What in the Narnia just happened? I was sitting by the social media coordinator for the Golden State Warriors and we couldn’t believe what we were seeing. LaVine was great, but so was Aaron Gordon. It was easily one of the greatest things I’ve seen in person. I actually can’t think of something that rivals it right now. I’m not a huge fan of props during the contest, but the mascot was on a freaking hoverboard? WHAT IS REAL LIFE?

With the win, that’s two-in-a-row for LaVine. Will he attempt to make it three?

I have no idea, but it will be tough. LaVine said that he emptied out his bag and then some last night. What else can the guy do? I’ve never dunked a basketball in my life. The only trick I could do growing up was dribbling the ball through my legs (while lifting one of my legs up). But I would imagine it’s pretty difficult to just create a dunk, especially, you know, when you’re an NBA player who plays in 82-plus games per season.

There’s nothing wrong with going out on top after back-to-back titles.

LaVine’s photoshoot went about 20 minutes longer than most. He got every single member of his family involved, plus his agents and others in his inner circle. You can’t blame him. What an unbelievable moment for him. As our boy Drake would say, “What a time to be alive.”

As for today…

I woke up a little later than I would have liked and I still feel like I could sleep six more hours.

(Thanks Starbucks!)

I’ll be doing some catchup work here, posting videos and what not. This also marks the third year away from my girlfriend on Valentine’s Day. GO BASKETBALL!

I also have to make my way to the gift shop. My friend asked me to pick him up an All-Star koozie, which is pretty much perfect if you knew him.

I’ll check back in later this afternoon or tomorrow morning.

It’s been a great time spending this weekend with you guys. Thanks so much for reading.

Monday,11:03 a.m.

Not a whole lot to report this morning. I’m currently waiting to check out of my hotel. I’m going to get a huge coffee and that will be that for Toronto. What a weekend it’s been, though, eh?

For site content, here’s what you can expect in the next few days:

  • Reminiscing With Ratke (breaking down All-Star Weekend)

  • More videos (including a Slam Dunk mini movie)

  • More photo galleries.

This post was kind of useless. Whatever. I just wanted to check in. Missed you guys.