Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor set a high standard on Tuesday for the most-foolish comment to be offered by a Minnesota sports figure for the final week of August 2014. Then, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer came charging from the outside late Thursday night to make it a neck-and-neck race heading into Labor Day weekend.
On Tuesday, the Timberwolves basically took over a glorious day at the Minnesota State Fair and were enjoying what might have been the finest day of public relations experienced by the franchise since …
Well, maybe since Kevin Garnett and friends defeated Sacramento in the seventh game of the Western Conference semis a decade ago.
Large gatherings of fairgoers were giving cheers to the foursome of players that the Wolves were marching about the premises:
Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Thaddeus Young as the bounty from the Kevin Love trade, and Zach Levine as the 13th overall selection in this summer’s draft.
The reception received and the winning personalities of these new players – that was going to be the story – and then Taylor was encountered by reporters and asked for his lingering thoughts on the Love trade.
The astute response for Taylor would have been, “I’m excited to have Wiggins, Bennett and Young with us, and I wish Kevin the best in Cleveland. I’m sure he’s going to have tremendous success in Cleveland playing with the greatest player in the world, LeBron James, and also Kyrie Irving.’’
Unfortunately, this was how the Wolves owner actually started with reporters at the State Fair on Kevin Love:
“I question if this is going to be the best deal for him because I think he’s going to be the third player on a team …’’
And on he went, to rip Love’s defense, and question his ability to stay healthy, and basically send barbs in the direction of the second-best player in franchise history, behind Garnett.
“For Glen to say that, I just think he should be focusing on the players that he just received for me,’’ Love said in response. “… I think he got a lot for me. So, I’d be focusing even more on that.’’
I think most of us here in Minnesota can agree on that, Kevin.
And then along came Zimmer, on Thursday night, after quarterback Christian Ponder, demoted from making 35 starts in the previous three seasons to the third-teamer, finally saw action and completed 12 of 15 passes in the closing exhibition victory over Tennessee.
Immediately in his postgame interview, Zimmer said: “I’m especially proud of Christian Ponder because I know there’s been a lot of fans and a lot of people who have really been negative about him. And the guy’s been nothing but a first-class guy, works hard every single day and went on to perform well tonight.’’
Hey, Zim … you’re the guys who really have been negative about Christian Ponder, you and offensive coordinator Norv Turner, in actions, if not in artificial words of support.
You’re the guys who gave Ponder as few reps in Mankato as McLeod Bethel-Thompson received as the No. 4 quarterback in 2012. You’re the guys who let Ponder on the field for a few minutes and seven passes in the first exhibition, then didn’t give him a snap in the second or third exhibitions.
Don’t try to put this negativity on the “fans’’ or on a “lot of people.’’ You’re the guys, the head coach and the coordinator, plus the general manager who reached to draft him, who have treated Ponder with disdain, treated him as a quarterback with no status.
Ponder might not be an NFL-caliber quarterback, but he’s smart enough to detect bull-slinging when he hears it … and that’s all he’s been getting this summer from his employers.