Timberwolves forward Anthony Tolliver was born and raised in Springfield, Mo., where tornadoes flit across the countryside in an annual rite of springtime. But May 22 -- when an F-5 tornado ripped through nearby Joplin, Mo., killing 141 people -- was a day unlike any other.
On Wednesday, Tolliver is holding two clinics in Joplin, where children from kindergarten through eighth grade can play, get autographs and forget for awhile. (For more information on the event, see www.startribune.com/timberwolves and the On the Wolves blog). He talked recently with Star Tribune beat writer Jerry Zgoda about Joplin, the Timberwolves' coaching situation and a guy named Ricky Rubio.
Q You know all about tornadoes, but did you ever think you'd see anything like this?
A It's crazy, crazy that so many people died in the storm, crazy how it hit so close to home. It opened my eyes to how quickly life can change.
Q Why did you choose to try to help this way?
A Just doing something different. Most of the gyms there are being used as shelters for people who don't have homes anymore. We felt lucky to find a gym that actually was available. I read that more than 20 high school students who were graduating passed away. I just want to help kids get their minds off things they shouldn't be worrying about.
Q It has been nearly two months since the Wolves last played a game. Are you surprised you don't know who will coach you next season?
A It's not a big deal. We don't need a coach right now. That's not saying anything about Kurt (Rambis) or any other coach. The only two teams that need coaches right now are Miami and Dallas. I hope for his sake it gets resolved, so he's not sitting at home wondering what's going on. I supported Kurt all year and I still support him to this day. But if the team decides to go in a different direction, that's where we're going.
Q You're the team's player rep. Will there be a season this year and will it start on time?
A I'm more optimistic than I was at the end of the season. I feel like there's been dialogue. I'm a very optimistic person and I'm optimistic we'll still play a full 82-game season, whether it's compressed in a little less time. But once you start missing games, you start losing money.
Q Two final words: Ricky Rubio. What do you know about him?
A Well, I heard he's coming. Hopefully, he'll bring a different dimension to our team. If he hits me in the face with a couple passes I'm not expecting, I'll know we've got something there. I remember playing with LeBron in a preseason game my rookie year. He threw a pass, there was no way in the world I thought he saw me. It hit me right in the numbers, but I didn't catch it because I wasn't expecting it. I'd never played with somebody like that. I don't know (Rubio's) game yet, but I'll get to know it real soon and real intimately.