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This would certainly put an end to the conspiracy theories, wouldn't it? And you can't argue that you wouldn't watch it.
How to make the NBA draft lottery better. Have the owners of all 14 teams race 1 lap around a track.Order is determined by where they finish— Blair Walsh (@BlairWalsh3) May 23, 2013
I think it would be must see TV. Owners would have incentive to be fit/in shape.— Blair Walsh (@BlairWalsh3) May 23, 2013
Rose has officially been ruled out of Game 5 against the Heat. He hasn't played in a game in more than a year after tearing his ACL last April 29. At this point, why even bother with the charade of listing him on the injury report?
Well, because of this:
Regardless of whether recent ACL comebacks -- including the phenomenal local example of Adrian Peterson -- have clouded our judgement, it is downright strange for a player in this era to miss more than a year of game time with this injury.
"He's still not feeling well ... obviously he wants to be here but he's got to get better first," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He's got to prioritize his health."
And so, assuming the Heat dispatches the Bulls tonight, we go back to waiting for one of the best players of this generation to return from one of the common injuries of this generation.
One would have to assume Rose will be back by the start of next season, but one never really knows.
As Minnesota's four major men's pro sports teams hit rock bottom as a collective in 2011 -- none of them made the playoffs, and none were particularly close in the end -- we wondered which would be the next of the bunch to make the playoffs.
Now that we are into May of 2013, the times are better. The Vikings and Wild have made the playoffs since that query. The Timberwolves at least have the makings of a nucleus that could challenge for a spot. The Twins have already moved the needle from hopeless to functional and are a few more prospects and Oswaldo Arcia blasts away from being downright intriguing.
As such, we revisit the question with the bar set higher: What will be the next of the four to WIN a playoff series (or, in the Vikings' case, a game)?
This is a bit of a dare-we-dream proposition, considering that from the time immediately after Randy Moss' disgusting act at Lambeau until this very moment -- a span of more than eight calendar years -- the Vikings' playoff victory following the 2009 season is the only example of postseason advancement among the four. But why shouldn't we dream big? Let's set some percentages:
Vikings: 40 percent. A 10-win team added a batch of talent through the draft, found a receiver in Greg Jennings and a functional backup QB who can start if needed in Matt Cassel. A return trip to the postseason is not a lock, but you don't have to squint too much to see it, either. And once there, the NFL is the easiest to advance since it's a one-game proposition. Get a couple of bounces, and the Vikings are the winner.
Wild: 35 percent. Cornerstone players like Zach Parise and Ryan Suter aren't going anywhere for a LONG time, while more young reinforcements are on the way to join the likes of Charlie Coyle, Jonas Brodin and Jason Zucker. A lot of new components were pulled together in a slapdash 48-game season. Minnesota faltered in the final month, or it would have won the division and had a much better chance of advancing. But at least the Wild made the playoffs. Still, there are questions galore. Will Mike Yeo and Chuck Fletcher be back? What will the Wild do at the goalie spot? And will they thrive playing in a tougher realigned division next season? That said, more than half the NHL teams make the playoffs, and seeding often means little once you get there -- unless you have to play a team like Chicago. The Wild took a step this year and could very well take another next year.
Twins: 15 percent. It's probably not happening this year, even with the team's improvement. Even 2014 might be early. But if the Wild and Vikings don't win soon, the Twins will be primed to make a push starting in 2015.
Wolves: 10 percent. Even if the Wolves get the shooting guard they so desperately need ... and get a fully healthy and engaged Kevin Love back ... the West is loaded and could remain that way for a while. Five teams won at least 56 games in the West this year. The Wolves should set their sights on a return to .500 and then start wondering about the playoffs and next steps.
Your thoughts, please, in the comments. But please: Limit this to the four teams mentioned. Of course the Lynx have a great chance of advancing this year. Other pro teams here have won playoff games in the eight-year span as well. But for our purposes, we are dealing with the Wild, Vikings, Twins and Wolves.
It has been nearly four years since the Timberwolves – in their first draft under David Kahn – chose Ricky Rubio No. 5 overall … and then Jonny Flynn at No. 6 instead of Stephen Curry. Flynn’s somewhat promising start fizzled quickly enough that he is now playing in Australia. Curry wound up as the No. 7 pick for Golden State, and Wolves fans were left with “what-ifs.”
Times, of course, have changed. The biggest Derby-related story is that Rick Pitino owns part of a horse that's running. The boxing match is stuck on pay-per-view. (Seriously? $59.99, in the era of UFC for free on television?) And baseball has become a sport that's based on local television, a sport that still gets huge ratings except that those ratings are split 15 ways every day.
It makes you wonder what the next sport to fall will be, like horse racing and boxing before them. Football is the biggest sport in North America, and is on TV so much that it'll always do well unless television somehow becomes unpopular. Basketball keeps getting better at the pro level, thanks to its growth around the world, and is the only sport in which the college game might actually be more popular. Hockey, never that nationally popular in the USA, will always have its Canadian bulwark to fall back on. Soccer's trajectory is only headed upwards. Auto racing has been fun in every era, whether NASCAR or Formula One.
For now, though, it'd be a good day to relieve the past. Put on a suit and tie and, crucially, a hat, get yourself some form of health-giving tobacco product, and sit down and watch the ponies run, and a couple of gentlemen try to beat each other's skulls flat. Turn on the Yankees game. It'll be your very own sports version of "Mad Men."
*On with the links:
*Given that it's Derby day, it's a good chance to link again to Grantland's director's cut of Hunter S. Thompson's famous "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved."
*I'm not entirely sure what's going on in Portland. They have one of the two best game-day atmospheres in Major League Soccer, along with Seattle. They sold 7,000+ season tickets for their women's pro team, more than any other team in the league has drawn for a game. And they drew more than 3,000 fans -- really -- for a Make-A-Wish Foundation game against an eight-year-old's team. The fans even created banners for the youth team, the Green Machine. Yeah, I know hipsters and fixed-gear bikes and craft beer, but seriously: why has Portland embraced soccer at all its levels more than maybe anywhere else in the world?
*The Wild drew their highest-ever rating on Fox Sports North on Tuesday, which is impressive. Given that the Game 7 of the Wild-Canucks series in 2003 drew a 67 share on FOX 9, though - that's two out of every three people watching TV - there's still some room to grow.
*I enjoyed this David Kahn exit post from Patrick Reusse, which does point out one thing about Kahn: despite being a woeful president of basketball operations for the Timberwolves, he was always polite and decent, despite the over-the-top criticism he received. I don't think I'd have been able to do the same.
*And finally, let's go back to horse racing, where Spencer Hall, Jon Bois, and Martin Rickman have combined to come up with a list of the worst possible horse names. Key entry: "Ketchup Sandwich, in Lieu of a Family."
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