"Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things and no good thing ever dies."
Andy Dufresne was wrong.
Bill Simmons may vouch for the imagery of hope in Shawshank Redemption that litters his collection of column articles titled "Now I Can Die in Peace," but that is one line I struggle to buy.
As a Red Sox fan, sure there were many trials, heartbreak, and ever-renewing hope, but if hope does not lead to some type of grand fruition, what good is it?
With the fruition of the dreams of the Big Ticket, Kevin Garnett, I can look happily upon the face of the embattled roundball warrior who donned my team's jersey for well over a decade, but I cannot be whole. For as much as Garnett meant to the franchise, a man who repeatedly re-signed to stay with the team while the foundations crumbled and were repeatedly rebuilt, I can't help but remain subdued from elation. Maybe it is justified, maybe not.
In an era where free agency in all sports has almost obliterated the notion of a player spending his entire career with one team, KG looked--and better yet, acted--like the company man. Although handsomely rewarded financially, the results never came quite close enough to what his desire craved for and what this man deserved, but still he remained, publicly, devoted to the team.
The history of the franchise before and during his arrival, however is one littered by misfortune and mismanagement:
- Luc Longley, Christian Laettner, etc. failing to amount to anything
- Failure to ever procure a Top 2 selection in the NBA Lottery
- The premature departures of Tom Guggliotta & Stephon Marbury, and the career-ending injury to Terrell Brandon
- The re-signing debacle of Joe Smith, culminating in several lost 1st round draft picks
- Wally Szczerbiak's in-fighting with KG
- Latrell Sprewell's "feed my family" incident
- Kevin McHale's GM abilities extremely questionable
This list and the coupling details could go on incessantly, and it shows why the growth of remorse for one of the NBA's most likable figures persisted in the culmination prior to the 2007 NBA Draft.
If you parallel it to the Red Sox, we see two franchises mired in inefficiency, bad luck, bad moves, etc. What has always struck me is that while the Red Sox engendered a feeling amongst baseball fans towards rooting for their success, whereas with the Timberwolves, the prevailing thought was almost always moving for Garnett's move towards a possible contender, most notably in the rumors of trades last summer to Boston and Los Angeles, the modern home of the once-proud Minneapolis Lakers, and just like the Lakers and the NHL (North) Stars, and Garnett, Minnesota has been the sorry recipient of an eviction of its own cherished property.
With Garnett being the latest loss from the Twin Cities, maybe we few, not-so proud Wolves fans should be used to the export of our talent. But we mostly aren't, simply because we must have something to root for. To take away what was ours severs the true, unyielding connection we once had with it. Garnett was ours alone from 1995-2007 and we were proud to call it our own, and while we are glad he hoisted the trophy last week, our only wish would have been that it be in the Target Center.
Hope has felt like quite a damning thing to believe in and cherish for a Wolves fan. Between the defections of Gugliotta, Marbury once the team finally made the postseason, to the Conference Finals appearance, to the Sprewell statements and total collapse of the team, and to the continued inability to find anything worthwhile in the draft, the life of the Wolves fan is back and forth. It makes hope feel hollow, even tainted, as a chance for rebirth and renewed success might ultimately be unfounded and faulty.
Maybe, just maybe, hope is on the horizon. Despite once again losing out on a Top 2 pick, there can be reasons for hope. The emergence of Al Jefferson, the centerpiece of the returns in the Garnett deal, brings the opportunity for a great big man, Minnesota's first true post player. NBA fans might have seen Garnett for what he has been for the Wolves: a great perimeter shooter and rebounder, but in Jefferson the Wolves have a player unlike Garnett, one who can hold his own in the blocks and who possesses great post offense.
Hope may also be evidenced in the draft yet. Reports abound with hints that Pat Riley and the Miami Heat might be looking more towards a back-court player to complement Dwayne Wade and give pass on Michael Beasley in favor of O.J. Mayo. Should this occur in this Thursday's draft, the Wolves could possess their best front-court tandem since Gugliotta and Garnett--or maybe even their best ever.
It might depend simply on the outcome of the draft, or maybe the mind's of Wolves fans are already made up, but maybe another go-around with this young group might be worth something. With the Sox, it was a simply stolen base, and maybe for the Wolves, it might be a simple note card reading the name of the player(s) who might bring another chance at redemption.