Greetings. Kent Youngblood here.
I was over at Target Center for the Wolves media day. With Jerry working on a story and notes, I thought I’d share some sights and sounds from the two-hour affair – which started, by the way, with Kurt Rambis eyeing the large assembled media, shaking his head and saying, “There must be free food here or something.”
Guess he has us pegged.
Other observations, notes and quotes, in no particular order:
--Fans should know that the Wolves came very close to starting camp without forward Michael Beasley. Beasley was up on a mini-stage mugging for the camera with teammates Luke Ridnour and Kevin Love. When he went to leave the stage he got his foot caught on a wire and nearly face-planted. How would that have looked on an injury report? Good news: Beasley used his obvious athletic ability to avoid the pratfall and lived to make more than a few entertaining statements to the media. But more on that in a bit.
--Rambis and general manager David Kahn said point guard Jonny Flynn, who is recovering from hip surgery, is not yet ready to go. Kahn said Flynn would not accompany the team to Europe. But he hopes Flynn will be able to begin doing some work on the court when the team returns. Kahn said he was hoping Flynn would be able to make his 2010-11 debut sometime in November. Kahn said Flynn is due for a re-check Oct. 18 in Colorado, and that he would accompany Flynn to that appointment.
--Meanwhile, Wesley Johnson is still somewhat hampered by his sore hamstring. He will practice with the team, but might not be able to take part in both of the two-a-day practices that mark the onset of camp. Kahn said Johnson was doing very well recently but suffered a setback when he went out and played several hours of pickup ball.
--Rambis said he is adrenalized and excited about the onset of camp, going so far to say just the smell of the gym is somewhat intoxicating. He also said that: The starting five and the rotation off the bench is “completely open to competition,’’ and that nothing is set in stone yet. He also said that he would not put a number on the total wins he expects from this team, or even what number would constitute a successful season. He only said that team is more athletic and more versatile.
--There appear to be two schools of thought on the trip to London, and then Paris. One, that the trip will serve as a bonding experience for a young team with several new faces. The other holds that the team will be tired out by the process and will return to America a little run down. Love, for one, thinks the bonding will be key to a team that, he said, wasn’t very close last season. Again, more on this later.
--Fans, expect Beasley to be entertaining, both on the court and in interviews. I already like this guy. He showed up Friday refusing to back down from earlier statements that the team can contend for a title. Call it brash, but I call it fun. Here is a short list of entertaining quotes from his short media session:
1. When asked if coming here was a fresh start: “I don’t want a fresh start. Everything that has happened in my life made me what I am.”
2. On whether he has a chip on his shoulder (the short answer: yes): “Always. I feel some people have counted me out.” Beasley noted his averages of 15 or so points and six rebounds from last year weren’t bad, but promised more. “We’re going to have fun this year. I have a lot of motivation built up. Not against a particular team or person, but I think a lot of people think I can’t play basketball.” Beasley said he hopes to prove those folks wrong.
3. Beasley, when asked how good Miami was going to be: “I don’t know. I haven’t gotten back from the future yet.”
4. Beasley said Kahn should not have been fined for comments the GM made on local radio when he revealed some details about why Beasley might not have met expectations in Miami. “He meant the right thing, he just didn’t word it right,” Beasley said of Kahn’s comments, which included a reference to marijuana use by Beasley. “I don’t feel he should have been fined. … I feel I have learned from what I did. He only said what half the world already knew.”
--Big Nikola Pekovic made his first appearance in a Wolves uniform displaying a sense of humor and strong English language skills. What stuck out to me is a big tattoo he has on his left shoulder of a knight with a sword with skulls at his feet. Pekovic said it referred to his being a warrior on the court. OK.
--Sebastian Telfair is back, humor intact: “I’m already getting tired of being called the old guy,” he said. “I’m only 25.’’ Informed of these comments, 29-year-old Ridnour said, “I wish I could feel like I was 25.”
--Corey Brewer spent some time out in LA this summer reading a script for a short film being done by Terrence Howard.
--Kahn indicated that, after 16 months of non-stop personnel moves, the team is headed into a period of relative quiet on that front. “Now the spotlight should be on the players and coaches,” he said.
--By the way, it’s interesting that Kahn and Love – who have fairly famously not agreed on much over the past year -- agree on this: That this team needs to be closer than last year’s. Love, in fact, said his experience with Team USA this summer at the World Championship taught him the value of leadership and good team chemistry, which that team had. “I want to try to bring that to Minnesota,’’ Love said.
Indeed, Love said it was up to him to be more of a leader, even at 22. “Last year I stepped away from that,” he said, referring to his public unhappiness with being assigned a sixth man role at one point in the season. “This year it’s different. I have to be a vocal guy, but I also have to lead by example, do the right thing.” So what does that mean? That means Love said he would even accept a sixth man role this year, if asked. “I’d probably grit my teeth at first,” he allowed. It sounds like fans might see a lot out of Love this year.
--Here’s one last thing. Love had his gold medal with him. When a reporter joked whether he was going to put it on Ebay, he laughed. “What I’d do is sign it ‘Kevin Durant.’ Hey, I’m a businessman.”