This isn’t even funny anymore.
Actually, the gallows humor around the Timberwolves at various points in their checkered history rarely has packed much humor; it mostly has been used to release frustration, in a laugh, clown, laugh way.
Kevin Love’s broken right hand is Exhibit 459, or at least feels like it. The All-Star power forward suffered a broken right hand during a morning workout before practice Wednesday and is expected to be sidelined six to eight weeks. The team said Love would be examined by a hand specialist in New York for the fractures to the third and fourth metacarpal bones in his shooting hand.
The injury leaves the Wolves without their top two players for the season’s first month and a half, maybe longer. Point guard Ricky Rubio tore the ACL and MCL ligaments in his left knee last March and isn’t expected back from surgery rehab until December or January.
Minnesota’s “all-in” attitude for 2012-13 – hoping to end a streak of eight consecutive seasons missing the playoffs – was dealt a brutal blow. Last spring, after Rubio went down and Love joined him after April 11 (concussion and neck strain), the Wolves finished 5-20, dashing their postseason hopes.
Digging that kind of hole at the start of this season – a 3-12 start, say, by early December – might be too much to overcome to chase even the No. 8 seed.
This mishap might answer one small question about the Wolves (what to do with Derrick Williams, the underperforming No. 2 pick as a rookie last season). But it raises many others, including: What gods of basketball did this organization tick off?
One of the frequently invoked “explanations” for Minnesota’s run of bad luck stretching across nearly 24 seasons is that, hmm, maybe Target Center was built on an old native American burial ground. Then there was “The Curse of Joey Two-Step,” applied tongue-in-cheek to all sorts of bad mojo stemming from a disgruntled 75-year-old game-ops “break dancer” who was terminated and allegedly put a hex on the franchise.
How else to explain the team’s outrageous misfortune for more than two decades? The Wolves’ misery in the draft lottery is legendary – never moving up, often slipping down and usually ending up one slot after a clear drop in talent. As in 1992, when it went Shaquille O’Neal to Orlando, Alonzo Mourning to Charlotte … and Christian Laettner to Minnesota, despite owning the NBA’s worst record.
There were the murky circumstances under which the Joe Smith salary-cap scandal came to light. Lousy trades, draft picks (Ndudi Ebi) and free-agent decisions (Chauncey Billups out, Darko Milicic in). Injuries (Micheal Williams, Terrell Brandon) and worse (Malik Sealy’s highway death) altered the franchise’s best-laid plans. Even the timing of Kevin Garnett’s first mega-contract, good as he was, hurt when it led to jealousy in Stephon Marbury over the max salary rules it triggered a year later.
Rubio’s knee and now Love’s latest hand injury – the gold-medal winner from the London Olympics missed 18 games at the start of 2009-10 with a fractured fourth metacarpal in his left hand – looks like further evidence of poltergeists or the ghost of Mikan or something foul in the water in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
So whatever you say, don’t tell a Wolves fan that you hope his or her team can catch a break.