Minnesota Timberwolves fans are used to heartbreak, letdown and failure. It has not been a pretty 22 years for this organization. The team only can lay claim to a handful of bright spots, and two of them are named Kevin.
This season, fans are enjoying quality basketball for a change. Kevin Love is a big reason for this turnaround. He is fifth in the league in scoring and ranked No. 2 in rebounds. He has stepped up and become a leader for this team. And while he may not play with the same panache as LeBron James or Derrick Rose, he is a superstar.
Ricky Rubio may be the hot pepper in the 2012 Timberwolves chili, but Love is the ground beef. He is the bedrock of this team, and Timberwolves GM David Kahn needs to make sure he sticks around.
Waiting for a contract deal to be finalized is the only dark cloud in an otherwise highly enjoyable Timberwolves season. The Minneapolis Star Tribune has reported that the Wolves are ready to offer Kevin Love a max extension. However, there is a big difference between "ready to" and "signed."
Timberwolves fans are used to waiting. We waited for Christian Laettner to become a star. We waited for Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury to become Batman and Robin. We waited for five long years for our first-round draft picks to come back after the Joe Smith contract debacle. We waited to see where Garnett would be shipped. And then we waited for Ricky Rubio. We are sick of waiting to know if Love will be our superstar for the future
The fans are slowly making their way back to Target Center. Apathy has been replaced by excitement. This team is getting noticed. The Wolves have made the step from cellar dwellers to SportsCenter staples in the first month of the season.
Love has also helped make the Wolves relevant on the Minnesota sports scene again. I went to a small college on the central Minnesota plains. The campus pub was the place to catch the big sports games. They prominently advertised a sign that said "Catch all your Vikings, Twins, Wild and Gophers games here." No mention of the Timberwolves. The Canines were an embarrassing cousin to legitimate Minnesota sports teams.
I haven't been back to see if that sign has changed. However, with the way the Vikings season played out, the Wild collapsing and the Gophers unable to distinguish themselves in conference play, I hope Brother Willie's Pub has the TV turned to Timberwolves games.
Love has given Timberwolves fans something to cheer for again. Offensive rebounds, double-doubles, lockout professionals...when has Minnesota basketball been this much...fun? Heck, Love was even the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter after his game-winning basket against the Clippers.
The impotence of the Kurt Rambis triangle offense is gone. The "bang your head on the wall" era of Kevin McHale has finished. Target Center is no longer an island of misfit toys. The team is in a good place right now.
David Kahn, we fans have lived through enough. Let's keep a good thing going. Do everything in your power to keep Love in a Timberwolves uniform.