This week the Timberwolves became the worst American professional sports franchise, in terms of winning percentage.
They did so with a week typical of their historical torpor — embarrassing themselves with horrid play and pathetic body language in the wake of a badly managed coaching change that, at least in the short term, solved nothing.
They own the NBA's worst record, at 7-29. Their franchise winning percentage is .3929. They have slid behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have a franchise winning percentage of .3930. The worst winning percentage in MLB history is the San Diego Padres' .4620. We'll leave the NHL out of the discussion because of the difficulty of defining a true winning percentage, due to changing NHL rules regarding overtimes and shootouts.
This would be a convenient time to bash Wolves boss Gersson Rosas, owner Glen Taylor, new coach Chris Finch and former coach Ryan Saunders, and to predict ongoing disaster for a disastrous franchise.
After all, this is a bad team that is playing as badly as it ever has, adding apathy and frustration to what was already a losing recipe.
But while the Wolves have earned ridicule and encouraged pessimism, assuming that their losing ways are predestined ignores the realities of modern sports.
Just look at the teams the Wolves are competing with for the worst-ever title.
The Bucs were an embarrassment — until they hired a Vikings assistant coach named Tony Dungy. He elevated them to championship contention, and his organizational scaffolding led to the Bucs winning a Super Bowl with former Vikings quarterback Brad Johnson.
Who says Vikings can't win Super Bowls?
Now the Bucs have won two of the past 18 Super Bowls and were able to sign Tom Brady away from the Patriots. Once they stopped losing, their history of losing no longer mattered.
Now the San Diego Padres have built a championship contender and have signed young star Fernando Tatis, Jr., to an unprecedented 14-year, $340 million contract, a sign that they intend to contend for championships for a decade or more.
In recent sports history, we've seen the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Florida/Miami Marlins win titles, and the long-woeful baseball teams from Texas and Cleveland come within a few pitches of winning it all.
So while this feels like a terrible time to offer support to Rosas or Finch, this is an ideal time to maintain perspective on what is possible even for traditionally horrid franchises.
Rosas has proved adept at making trades. Malik Beasley was a steal, even when factoring in his current suspension. And Rosas was able to trade Andrew Wiggins for a starting point guard, even if D'Angelo Russell has yet to make an impact.
Russell can't be judged until we see how he plays with Karl-Anthony Towns, because he was acquired specifically to complement him.
As bad as this team is right now, here's what the future starting lineup could look like: Towns, Beasley, Russell, Anthony Edwards and a top-three draft pick.
Imagine if this team keeps its pick this summer and lands Oklahoma State star Cade Cunningham in the draft. He could play point guard or point forward, and give the Wolves tremendous versatility.
Anyone offering their annual vow to never watch the Timberwolves again would see that lineup on the court on opening night of next season and ... watch.
Perhaps the Timberwolf who deserves the most patience right now is Finch. He's a highly regarded veteran coach who was going to get a head coaching job in the near future.
It's not his fault that the Timberwolves made his hiring awkward, rushed and self-defeating, bringing him in to coach a team missing two starters during a difficult stretch of schedule and trudging toward the All-Star break.
It's not his fault that Beasley got suspended, Russell is out and he's dealing with players worn down by losing.
The rest of this season won't matter much until Beasley and Russell return, and Finch gets to experiment with good, veteran offensive players playing together.
No matter how ugly this season gets, we won't get a glimpse of the future until Towns, Russell, Beasley and Edwards are playing, and practicing, for Finch.
Jim Souhan's podcast can be heard at TalkNorth.com. On Twitter: @SouhanStrib. email@example.com