This number is so notorious as unlucky that there still are hotels that won’t declare a floor to be the 13th. It is also the number of NBA seasons the Timberwolves have gone without reaching the playoffs.
Bad luck is a small part of it. This is futility that has been mostly earned.
In these 13 years, the Timberwolves have messed up the draft, they have kept players on long-term contracts who did not deliver, they have not taken the plunge to bring in a difference-making free agent, and they have hired and fired in ill-advised ways.
To the east, an NHL expansion team arrived in the fall of 2000. The owners chose what seemed to be the goofiest nickname this side of the Utah Jazz, and yet they sold Wild jerseys by the tens of thousands early on, and that franchise has come to own the winter pro sports scene here.
The Wild will begin its fifth consecutive playoff appearance Wednesday in St. Paul, and it will be the eighth playoff entry in 16 seasons.
The Timberwolves have made eight playoff appearances — 1997 to 2004 — in the 28 seasons since the fall of 1989. The current 13-season playoff drought is second all-time in the NBA to the 15 misses from 1977 to 1991 for the franchise of the Buffalo Braves, San Diego Clippers and L.A. Clippers.
Among those 13 failed seasons, only a couple rate with this one when it comes to discouragement.
The home schedule came to an end Tuesday night at Target Center. This was billed as Fan Appreciation Night. For sure, it wasn’t Coach Appreciation Night.
The Wolves did not bother to wait until the third quarter for a meltdown to disgust coach Tom Thibodeau. They offered that up right away against Oklahoma City.
The Thunder gave the night off to the magnificent Russell Westbrook and two other starters, yet OKC moved the ball through the Wolves’ feeble excuse for defense for a 19-2 run and a 33-16 lead after one quarter.
The Wolves did catch the Thunder in the fourth quarter, and yet managed to lose 100-98 to the visitors missing a resting Russell.
Here’s the most remarkable quality with the Wolves over the past 13 seasons:
Even when they do the right thing, in this case hiring Thibodeau as the No. 1 available option on the coaching market, it has a chance to turn out to be the wrong thing.
A primary knock against Thibodeau in Chicago was that he drained his top players with an outrageous workload, and now he’s gotten the most average minutes per game in the league out of Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.
The brutal result of the final month of the season — 3-12 since March 15 — is an indicator that driving young stars to exhaustion is more a tribute to coaching stubbornness than player development.
The Wolves are 31-50 with a game remaining in Houston on Wednesday. Win or lose, the improvement is negligible over 2015-16:
A 29-53 record with a team shocked at the start by the death of Flip Saunders, with Sam Mitchell as an interim coach, and with Towns as a rookie and Wiggins as an NBA sophomore.
One certainty: The younger Wolves were playing better in 2015-16 as they approached the finish line, rather than sucking for air.
The big attraction advertised for Tuesday was the halftime unveiling of a new logo. This one is similar to the howling varmint that has been a backup wolf in recent years … only now it will be howling in a different direction.
Combine the logo change with new uniforms and a completed remodeling of Target Center and, yes, it’s another Wolves reset for 2017-18 — the fourth in this decade.
There was the reset with Rick Adelman as coach in 2011. Didn’t work. There was the reset with Saunders as the basketball boss in 2013, and tragedy took Flip. There was the reset with Thibodeau as a $40 million coach last summer and Year 1 has been a failure.
Now, Thibs will try again. Who knows?
Maybe he’ll be inspired by the team going to its bench to find the wolf for the new logo, and Thibodeau will go to his bench to find significantly more minutes.
Patrick Reusse can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on AM-1500. firstname.lastname@example.org