Scene: Andrei Kirilenko's apartment, Minneapolis, Wednesday night.
Present: Kirilenko and Alexey Shved
Setting: The fellow Russians and Timberwolves teammates sit on Kirilenko's couch. Kirilenko sips vodka. Shved sucks a Shirley Temple through his braces.
Shved: I can't believe Kevin Love hurt his hand working out.
Kirilenko: I can.
Shved: Why do you say that?
Kirilenko: I played in the NBA. I should have known.
Shved: Should have known what?
Kirilenko: That the Minnesota Timberwolves are cursed. Yes, they are silly at times. They are also cursed.
Alexey, this is a team that had a chance to get Shaquille O'Neal and wound up with Christian Laettner. That's like expecting a Mercedes for your birthday and getting a Segway. Most of this team's first-round draft choices work at Wal-Mart, stocking the high shelves. I should never have brought you here.
Shved: I think you are making too much of this. Be happy! This is a nice town, we have a good coach, and we still have good players. Have you seen Brandon Roy in practice? How about Pekovic? He looks like he wants to remove my spleen, but if you look close, his skull tattoos spell out "Twinkletoes."
Kirilenko: As the peasants say in our country, an optimist is one who knows too little. Brandon is great, yes, but he has less cartilage in his knees than I have fat on my elbows. Big Pek is promising, but we came here to play with Kevin Love.
Kevin hurt himself working out. That doesn't happen everywhere, Alexey. You have to understand, this franchise has been around since 1989 and has won two playoff series.
They traded Ray Allen for Stephon Marbury. They traded Roy for Randy Foye.
They drafted Kevin Garnett ... and he won a championship after he left.
They drafted Ricky Rubio ... and he got hurt just when he had everyone in the Twin Cities saving up for the Spanish version of Rosetta Stone.
Shved: You are making too much of this. Every team makes mistakes and suffers injuries.
Kirilenko: This team used a first-round draft pick on Ndudi Ebi.
Shved: Please take me home.
Kirilenko: I had heard of the Curse of Joey Two-Step, but I did not believe, not until now.
Shved: Joey who?
Kirilenko: Joey Two-Step. He was an entertainer in the franchise's early years. He became too amorous for the taste of many women employees, and the team let him go.
That day, he said, "Curse you, Timberwolves. No one fires Joey Two-Step. I am putting the hex on you!''
Shved: You should have told me about this Joey Two-Step.
Andrei, you are my idol, but I cannot listen to you anymore. I will play point guard while Rubio is out, and you will get more minutes while Love is out, and when they come back, we will be strong as Russian bear.
Kirilenko: I like your attitude. You must have been smuggled across the border. You are too sun-shiny to be Russian.
I'm sorry, it is my job as your elder to make sure you understand. This is a team that was severely penalized for making an under-the-table deal with Joe Smith.
This is a team that brought in Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell and expected them to act like grown men. This is a team that thought Jonny Flynn could play defense and Wes Johnson could dribble.
This is a team that lost Terrell Brandon to injuries, and dumped Chauncey Billups before he became a star. For point guards, this is the Bemidji Triangle.
Shved: You are scaring me.
Andrei, do not worry. We have Brandon and Chase and Pek and Derrick Williams. We are Russians. We know how to survive a cold winter.
Kirilenko: OK, Alexey. This does remind me of another Russian saying. "If you live among wolves you must howl like a wolf."
Shved: What does that mean, Andrei?
Kirilenko: It means I want you to wear this Kevlar body and garlic necklace everywhere you go. You are a Timberwolf now. You must watch your step.
Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon and weekdays at 2 p.m. on 1500-AM. His Twitter name is SouhanStrib. • firstname.lastname@example.org