Tag Archives: Kansas

Becoming a Minnesota Timberwolves Fan: Tips on Properly Bandwagonning

Kansas Jayhawks basketball is one of maybe five things I truly love (possibly four if every retail video rental store is truly gone). Every year, on the first weekend of the NCAA March Madness tournament, my college buddies and I meet in Asheville, North Carolina to play golf in the morning and watch the tourney from lunch to lights out. These reunions take a pretty routine course each year. Jubilant greetings flow naturally into good natured ribbing around stories we’ve told dozens of times. I should mention that most of these guys—myself not included—are hardcore Kentucky Wildcat fans, so usually sometime around dinner, we start fighting about the indefinable morality of how John Calipari  runs a college basketball program. I usually start out sensibly, comparing him to Dr. Doom, Stalin and Hitler, because even though Cal is pure evil, there’s no denying he’s been successful. But at some point after the brilliant analogies, objectivity is lost and our individual fanhood warps us all into completely biased propaganda Gatling guns shooting for each other’s heads. The arguments get personal and put a very real wedge of negativity between our friendships for the remainder of the trip.

It’s my favorite weekend of every year.

Still, my friends and I are hitting our thirties now. It’s time to let go of petty allegiances. I recognize that a Jayhawks fan can be a better human being while still respecting that a Wildcats fan is a kind of human being in their own right. It’s time to reach across the aisle at the next level and bond on common ground. That next level is the NBA, that common ground is the Minnesota Timberwolves. That’s where me and my buddies are going to grow up in a more respectable fashion over the next decade. Back-to-back first rounders Karl Towns of UK and Andrew Wiggins of KU are exactly what we need. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship that aligns our friendships with our fanships. The only real problem here is a classic one. How do you make the successful trip into a fan base without everyone saying you arrived via dreaded transport, the bandwagon?  Here’s some guidelines.

1. The first rule of bandwaggoning is to not talk about bandwaggoning. – No one was actually a T-Wolves fan prior to 2014. I don’t mean no one in my friend group, I mean no one in America. Until last year, the only traffic on Canis Hoopus was Ricky Rubio’s (probably charming) family. So when current T-Wolves fans talk to each other, we all know that the other person is lying to us about their decades of loyalty, but it’s very important to not acknowledge their lie or they’ll call you out as a bandwagon fibber too. It’s a lot like talking about your sexual conquests when you’re a freshman in high school. Third base? You mean my steady Tuesday night?

2. Have a relevant take on the “bigger than the sport” event surrounding the team. – You know when your significant other gives you a benign task like watering a $3 plant or paying attention to your children? And you let that responsibility slide for, like, maybe a few minutes or days, and suddenly a thirsty flower is a huge indictment about how you’ve given up and don’t love her anymore? The “bigger than the sport” topic is like that. True love goes the extra mile. Each team has something like this. Deflategate and Donald Sterling’s racist comments are some easy ones to recall. If you’re a fan of the Patriots or Clippers, you have to have a take on those topics. For Wolves fans in 2015, you need a relevant opinion on Flip Saunders, which honestly is one of the easiest “bigger than the sport” opinions to have. Guy was a Golden Gopher, coached through the Kevin Garnett years, drafted Karl Towns, and he made that deal for Wiggins. He’s directly tied to almost 90% of the moments that made Wolves’ fans smile. RIP Flip. Were there some horribly laughable moments of executive buffoonery in there too? Shut your mouth, you monster. Flip’s a hero.

3. Know the whole roster. – This seems like a no brainer, but it’s really about capitalizing on the market inefficiencies in Wolves convos. Lots of people will be able to say they knew Towns was special while he was at UK, but far fewer will be talking about how excited they were for Nemanja Bjelica’s stretch-four potential when he looked like “shit-you-not the next Dirk Nowitzki” in FIBA Eurobasket this past summer.

4. Buy some gear. – Sure, you’re pressing a little bit. It’s like buying her jewelry on a third date. Do you really want to make a financial commitment this early in the relationship? But we’re not talking season tickets here. We’re talking about a tasteful level of commitment that says, “I’m serious enough that you don’t need to feel bad about moving things along a little faster than normal because I’m going to be around months from now, even if you go a little crazy and end up missing the playoffs.” You know, something like an Andrew Wiggins t-shirt jersey, just because you were watching his highlights of that that 33-point outburst against the Hawks all day long and wanted to do something nice for him.

5. Finally, repeat after me, “I’ve always liked the Timberwolves.” – The ultimate bandwagon defense. You’ve been on this corner for years. It started when you were six years old and just thought wolves were cool. Worst day of your life was that move in middle school where you lost your Starter jacket. But you owned it. You were mistakenly excited for the Christian Laettner era and happily surprised when it transformed into the Kevin Garnett era. You don’t care what Steph Curry is doing, because the best shooter you’ve ever seen is Wally Szczerbiak, and hell yes you can spell his name without Google ( It starts with four completely insane consonants and is an indomitable trump card, btw. It gives you historical props and infers that your opponent is an illiterate chump).

For good measure, you’ll probably want to keep Tony Campbell and the Metrodome in your back pocket. People respect that year one crap. Here’s to my favorite team. Let’s have a great season!

Pouring one out for Malik Sealy,
Dusty “The Little Ticket” Riedesel

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A Gameday Portrait – Kansas Coach Bill Self: What are we not seeing?

The most fascinating aspect of a serial killer is their familiarity. Assumedly, they wake up, they pick an outfit for the day, they eat meals, and they probably have a hobby, like reading Garth Ennis comic books or perfecting their homemade salsa recipe. People who argue that serial killing is the most fascinating aspect of a serial killer are either ignoring the narcissistic nature of man or underrate the importance of familiarity in earning attention, probably both. Green ketchup wasn’t interesting because it was green, but rather because it was ketchup, America’s 3rd favorite condiment (behind Mayo, and—cue twilight zone music—salsa). Ketchup isn’t supposed to be green. Ketchup is red. If Heinz had produced green jeotgal, no one notices. No one cares.

Society’s aggregated comfort with expectations often hides the differences that make people extraordinary. With a suit, a debatably fake haircut and a paunch that could belong to your grandpa’s neighbor from Okmulgee, society could not be more comfortable with Bill Self. He’s totally the kind of guy that you could find yourself sitting next to at an Applebee’s bar discussing which Riblet’s sauce is the best. What he totally isn’t is the kind of guy that would point out the difference between Applebee’s Riblets and real riblets because he’s not a weirdo. He’s so ordinary. See the stammering interviews, hear the plugs for the Salty Iguana and speak about his conceivable opinions on Riblets. Given his situation, isn’t this how an ordinary person is expected to be?

But then there’s this. He’s a total weirdo. His normalcies somehow obscure the obvious fact that no one else is in his same situation. No one else is the highest paid state employee in Kansas. No one else is going to win a 10th straight conference title. No one else landed the most hyped high school prospect of the last 10 years. This is the most frustrating thing about Bill Self. He must be extraordinary, but try to hash out the reason and it will inevitably become a recitation of “The Nine Things Successful People Do,” an article written by smart people to help normal people be better than average people. That’s not a recipe for creating an extraordinary person, it’s a diagnosis of a their symptoms. And despite the cliché, every division I basketball coach is giving that “little extra”, so there must be something else to Bill Self. He’s not a normal coach, so what’s abnormal about him? Frustrating.

A wolf in sheep’s clothing. A fox in the hen house. A serial killer living amongst us is a common (and fun) trope of television. The juxtaposition of being completely normal and completely different pleases our narrative palette like the best salty sweets. Comparing Bill Self to a serial killer will only make a tiny bit of sense if his career takes a Bob Knight-like turn into maniacal competitiveness. There’s an infuriated smirk Self puts on his face when his team is playing at its worst that suggests it’s possible, but the analogy is extreme and grotesque and ignores number 7 on the successful people symptoms list, “build your willpower muscle.” Mob Boss then. Coaches are kind of like that already. Nick Saban could be Michael Corleone and Tom Thibodeau is definitely Tony Soprano. John Calipari and Rick Pitino are factually (probably) frontmen for the Dixie Mafia. So maybe Bill Self is just a more refined spin on the underground CEO. Maybe he’s Vito Corleone, a man who built his empire on a foundation of favors and kindness so renowned that all inquiries of his methods uncovered was gratitude. And Maybe he’s not. He’s probably not. I’m just trying to please that silly narrative palette I just mentioned.

Bill Self is extraordinary. You’re familiar with this fact. It’s the most frustrating thing about him because you can’t figure out why he’s so extraordinary. And maybe we’ve discarded the importance of what we already know. Bill Self is extraordinary, and whether its mob bosses or serial killers, the best are never caught.

Civil Justice, A Kansas Fan Takes Action Against Tar Heel Scandal

My buddy sent me and a few friends this article entitled “The Scandal Bowl: Tar Heels Football, Academic Fraud, and Implicit Racism.” Even though the topic has been covered for years, I felt like maybe key individuals needed to be alerted to the subtle implications attached to this event. So I jumped into action.

First, as a friend, I replied directly to the one one guy on the email who was a UNC grad by saying, “So surprising from a university of such acclaimed academic rigor, amiright?”

Next, as a commited fan of Kansas University, I forwarded the article to Charlie Weis with the subject line, “what it takes to win FATBOY…” He hasn’t responded yet, but you can expect KU football recruits to get better for about three years before anyone catches on. Worth it.

Then, I forwarded the article to Mark Emmert (yep, CEO of the NCAA), with a subject line that said, “birds (=UNC athletes) of a feather (=seriously, check the bball program too).” So that should probably ensure the justice gets spread around.

I’ve also started the paperwork for background checks on everyone I know who graduated from UNC. Especially the individuals who seem interested in Afro-American studies.

Go Kansas. Go non-cheating Midwestern values. Go future cheating Midwestern values.

Finally, I’m going to send an email to Roy Williams on behalf of Bill Self that we think he’d make a great “outside consultant” to the Kansas staff. Subject line will be, “we still love you too, Roy…” with the purposeful ellipses leading him to open the email and see the opening compensation for outside consultants as “Your own sense of self-worth, and perhaps a good lead on a twilight job at a school like SMU.”

Dishing out justice like a man,
Dusty “The E-Male” Riedesel