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Celtic's Fan's Second Favorite Team

By Danny Kanamori

Do you ever miss the 2006-2007 Celtics? As much as I love being on top again, I often get nostalgic for that team of unknowns filled with hope. I remember the excitement I had when Al Jefferson had his first 20 and 10 game. I remember when the local kid from Providence, Ryan Gomes, was actually getting a chance to start on the team he grew up watching. And I remember when the five on the court were surprising themselves by the end of the season. Luckily, I can simply tune into the Minnesota Timberwolves. 

If you've been a Celtics fan through and through, how can you not love the T-Wolves? First off, their coach, Kevin McHale, represented Boston sports as well as any athlete to come through the Bean. He was hard-nose, awkward, lovable, and one of the most efficient power forwards in history. As an NBA coach, he is no different. In a league where coaches rarely sway from their rotation, McHale is more like a high school coach. He benches his stars when they're not playing well. He adapts inter-game, even inter-play, to match-ups and plays that can work better. And he truly is a mentor at a level which only requires guidance. While he will be pressed to get any Coach of the Year votes right now, he's guided his team to the best record in the NBA since New Years.  Not bad for a team with a bunch of nobodys. 

But are the Minnesota Timberwolves really a bunch of  "nobodys?" Not in Boston. Their starting five consists of three former Celtics players who came over in the Kevin Garnet trade, a former BC stand out, and a former Big East point guard. In fact, they are a lot what the Celtics would have looked like had the ping pong ball delivered them the first pick. Not only are they made up of former Celtics players, but they play like former Celtics players.

In Boston, Al Jefferson, the young stud right out of high school, was on the verge of becoming one of the best post players in the East. Now in Minnesota, he's established himself as one of the best in the West (So much so that the Timberwolves front office has sent a DVD to all the coachs to sway them into All-Star votes). This is no exaggeration. In a league dominated by guard play, Al Jefferson is one of the few go-to post players who demands a double team from opponents. 

Ryan Gomes and Sebastian Telfair, the other two players to formerly wear green, are not only starting, but have embraced the hard-nosed defense first attitude McHale preaches. Gomes, who many thought to be a European player at best, has developed a consistent outside shot and a tendency to guard wing players by closing out and not fouling. Plus, he's a Connecticut kid who went to school in Rhode Island. Telfair, once predicted to be a cancer because of his cousin's legacy, has turned into a full-court defender who feeds the post and doesn't take many bad shots. Certainly not what basketball fans expected when reading about the next Coney Island sensation.

Craig Smith, a Worcester Academy product and Boston College star, has also quieted critics showing that being a tweener can be an advantage. He sets screens as if he were still running that flex offense which tortured the Big East (Smith entered BC while they were still a Big East school). 

Even others on the Minnesota Timberwolves, who don't have specific Boston affiliations, still resemble the makeup of what Boston fans have always loved. Kevin Love is an unathletic power forward who dominates the offensive glass and is quick on the outlet passes --- remind you of someone else? Mike Miller is a midwest prodigy who would convince his dad, principal at the high school, to let him into the gym at all hours of the night to work on his jump shot -- not quite Larry, but the thought comes to mind. Mark Madsen wouldn't be a go-to player at the division 3 level, but his effort as a team cheerleader alone would make him a fan favorite in Boston.

Unless you're a loser like me with the NBA package, you'll find it tough to catch a T-Wolves game. I don't see them getting any national coverage anytime soon, but if they keep winning at the pace that they have been since New Years, they will certainly be talked about more. And as a Celtics fan, you should feel somewhat entitled. They may have Timberwolves on their jersey, but their make-up is green.



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