[Ed's note: Ben Fawkes was the summer intern at ESPN The Magazine. Dude is obsessed with Minnesota sports, so we let him throw this together. It's a rough time up there these days—Twins missed the playoffs, Vikings should be a lot better with that talent and the T-Wolves, well…at least they have a franchise future. Hey, there's always the Wild!]
The 2008-2009 NBA season tipped off on Tuesday night and yes, we knew what everyone was thinking: "Where is my Minnesota Timberwolves update? I'm tired of hearing about Eli and Peyton, about LBJ and Kobe and about Brad Lidge; give me some meat on a player I care about." Well, we always have our ears to the ground here at The Mag and your prayers have been answered.
Before the opening of another sure-to-be unfulfilling Timberwolves season, Al Jefferson took the entire Timberwolves staff, of over 100 people, out to dinner at JD Hoyt's Steak house in Minneapolis. A nice gesture, probably intended to thank the staff before they have to clean up the perpetual mess that will be the T-Wolves season (we kid because we love). In all seriousness, this is a first-class gesture for a kid who realizes that he is now The Man in Minnesota. KG is in Boston and now has the championship that he should have won in Minnesota. Jefferson is the most valuable part of that trade, a man whom our own Bill Simmons called a "potential franchise player."
Only in his fourth year, straight out of high school, Jefferson clearly recognizes that his image transcends the game of basketball. After signing a new five-year, $65 million contract, he is the face of a franchise that is in rebuilding mode (some would argue that this rebuilding process has been going on for many years, but only now has been publicly acknowledged). He needs to be a rock on and off the court and this gesture shows that he is a solid person, as well as a solid player. We can only hope that the staff took him up on his generous move and didn't order salads.