When I interviewed at the Star Tribune in early 1990, a few of my soon-to-be colleagues took me to a Timberwolves game.

This was the middle of the Wolves' first season. They played at the Metrodome. Bill Musselman stormed the sideline and Tony Campbell epitomized the Wolves' tough, underdog mentality. They were an easy team to like. As an adoptive Minnesotan, I've been trying to like them ever since.

The Timberwolves have had their moments, but they were just moments: the Stephon Marbury-Kevin Garnett flirtation, the 2004 playoff run, the Kevin Love-Ricky Rubio intrigue, the Jimmy Butler implosion.

The Wolves have occasionally been interesting. Rarely have they been as likable as they were when fans' cheers died in the rounded corners of the cavernous Metrodome.

The best team in franchise history featured Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell, who, once they realized their excellence would not be financially rewarded, destroyed the organization from within, getting Flip Saunders fired and ushering in a new era of failure.

The most promising duo in franchise history — Garnett and Marbury — was split by Marbury's selfishness and shortsightedness.

The most promising team of recent vintage was destroyed by Butler's egomania.

The 2021-2022 Timberwolves are currently a fringe playoff team. They have much to prove. They do, however, have a chance to be the most likable team in franchise history, if they can just show a little maturity.

Anthony Edwards is a stunning talent and engaging personality. He could be a superstar. He is already a constant source of entertainment. Now he needs to embrace the responsibilities of stardom, requiring nightly excellence.

Karl-Anthony Towns is the second-best player in franchise history. He needs to prove he can adapt to the challenges that stars face — how the game is officiated, how other centers defend him — without losing his cool.

D'Angelo Russell is a talented player whose presence and health is vital. He needs to eliminate those too-frequent 3-for-15 shooting nights.

So many of the Wolves' other key figures are endearing overachievers. The dunk poster should be replaced by Jarred Vanderbilt snaking through traffic to grab a rebound. Patrick Beverley is an ideal unselfish, hyper-competitive veteran for this group. The coach, Chris Finch, runs a beautiful offense and holds his players accountable.

As the trade deadline approaches on Feb. 10, Wolves fans will yearn for the magic acquisition who will make this team better.

This franchise has always pined for the savior. It was going to be Andrew Wiggins, then it was going to be Towns, then Edwards.

This team doesn't need a savior. It needs to grow up, quickly.

This team already has enough talent to win. How it performs the rest of the season will be a test of its maturity.

The Wolves didn't play hard enough on Tuesday night in New Orleans. They didn't play intelligently enough down the stretch on Thursday in Memphis.

Tuesday night, Towns blamed the media — or the Wolves' susceptibility to allow praise to make them complacent — for the loss. Thursday, Finch noted that the Wolves are like a golfer who quickly improves his score from 100 to 90 but needs to understand the attention to detail that reaching 80 requires.

Towns' statements were ridiculous. Finch's were accurate. The Wolves can make the playoffs on talent. To rise in the seedings, to win a playoff series, to justify the optimism that surrounds them, they will have to develop basketball maturity.

Basketball maturity is different than real-life maturity. Warriors star Draymond Green, whose team will play in Minnesota on Sunday night, constantly proves this.

Green does not always conduct himself with intelligence or class off the court, but he is a brilliant and mature basketball player, one whose defense, passing, unselfishness and effort are constantly exceptional.

This year's Wolves team has proved that it can win when its starting five is healthy, but no team can count on health in the age of COVID-19.

This Wolves team is entertaining, and likable. To be more than that, they're going to have to prove they can play with maturity under pressure.