Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Man Among (Timber)Wolves

To some he is a rarity, an oddity: a talented, skilled big man surrounded by hapless castoffs and has-beens. To others, he represents all that is wrong in sports: intense, brooding, vicious, and insatiably demanding.

He is Kevin Garnett - a man among Timberwolves.

Hello, I'm Laird Braithwaite. Tonight we take you inside a world few people have ever seen - the life of a great player on a terrible NBA team.

This is Ticket. A rare physical specimen, he stands a hair under seven feet tall, with a wingspan that could wrap around a Grizzly. He has been living with the Timberwolves since 1995, when he adopted the pack at the age of nineteen after migrating north from the urban center of Chicago.

Ticket is the main attraction at the Target Center, a recreational outpost hidden amongst the many lakes in the land of Minnesota. From October to April, as many as 20,500 people will pay rather hefty sums to see Ticket and his packmates once or even twice a week.

Lately, however, that number is dropping.

The Timberwolves are no longer a dominant pack. Once they stood supreme over much of this terrain, a rich, luscious swath of land from Minnesota to as far west as California. But nature is its own balance, and other packs have gained strength. Ticket no longer has willing lieutenants and enforcers to take care of his problems. Worthy, spirited males have fled to other packs, leaving Ticket as the alpha-male.

This is Star. Star always thought he was more important to the pack than he actually was. His slight build, hypnotic reflexes and frightening speed made him the ultimate catalyst to Ticket. When Ticket first arrived, he and Star seemed poised to lead the Timberwolves to riches never before seen. But Star recoiled in the face of a fight, and he soon was banished.

This is Wally. Wally took his position as scout a bit too literal. He was talented from outside, always sniffing out a possible invasion with his impeccable long-range senses. Yet his overall lack of desire and willingness to get in the middle of things angered Ticket, as did his unquenchable need to keep himself impeccably groomed.

This is Spree. Spree constantly challenged Ticket for supremacy, and Ticket would subsequently have to re-enforce his position as leader of the pack. This battle wore out both parties, and confused other pack members. Spree was once a fantastic killer, always going straight for the throat. Eventually, however, it became clear that Spree had sired some offspring, and was killing two to three deer and elk at a time to feed a few cubs - far more food than was actually needed. This constant need to feed his family drove him away; now, as a loner, he roams silently in the distance.

This is Alien. Alien was an elder, recruited from a rival pack for his wise ways. Alien was a fantastic facilitator, always chipping in wherever necessary: sometimes he'd stand lookout, other times he'd make a kill, and still other times he would ward off intruders. Yet his desire to discipline members within the pack led to the stand-off between he and Ticket. In the brutal world of the Timberwolves, youthful exuberance and big, sharp teeth will always prevail over shifty steps and weathered experience.

Now, without his fallen comrades, Ticket must struggle to teach the younger, naive Timberwolves to navigate their hostile territory. He is getting along in age; his gait, once majestic and as swift as the northern breeze, now shows the battle scars a great warrior like Ticket accumulates over the years. Some believe his time with the Timberwolves is numbered; that his status as alpha-male will be challenged, his power usurped.

But Ticket does not think so. Defiantly he stands on the land he has lorded over for more than a decade, surveying all that he helped create. He will have his chance to reveal the secrets of his mighty talent and enviable success, for tomorrow is another day.

Another day to go on the hunt.

Another day to kill.

Another day to prove he really is a man among Timberwolves.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well now - nicely done. Not sure the Twolves ever really roamed as a pack to be contended with, but then again, I don't pay too much attention to the NBA, as I'm not very impressed with whiny little cubs running around pissing on everything and thinking they are really marking turf. They're just making a stinking mess. I prefer real wolves to pretend ones.