A hint of Sam Mitchell's standing as Timberwolves interim coach with the team's followers came a few days back, when he went into a dissertation that demeaned the observational powers of media members.
A generic question had been asked by a TV reporter and Mitchell said:
"I see it every night. You guys don't see it; you guys are pedestrians. I don't see what you see when you have that microphone in your hand and that camera, and you guys don't see what we see. We see the little things …"
Generally, there's not a more surefire way to get fans on your side than to rip the sports media. In this case, most of the public feedback I noticed was anti-Mitchell. That's a bad sign for Sam.
The only part of the original comment I found disturbing was Mitchell's lack of eloquence: He needed to say members of the sports media were "civilians with pedestrian opinions.''
The everyday Wolves media has been dealing with a prickly Mitchell on a regular basis. There's a good reason for this: Sam is a prickly fellow by nature.
People can't all be charmers like … well, me.
I had a good 12-minute conversation with Mitchell on Friday at the Wolves practice facility and learned something about one of those "little things" he mentioned: the importance of where on the court Andrew Wiggins might be allowing himself to receive passes on his less-effective nights.
Sam was showing the difference between Wiggins going through the extra work it takes to get the ball 16 feet from the basket, at the top of the lane, compared with taking the easy route to get the ball at 26 feet on the side of the key.
"Here — one dribble to get to the basket,'' said Mitchell, standing at 16 feet.
He moved to 26 feet and said: "Here — three dribbles to the basket. It's a long way to two points from here.''
Mitchell looked and said: "That's what we're trying to get through to these young guys. You see that.''
Out here on the court, in Sam's slow motion … heck, yes, we pedestrians can see that.