It's that time of year, where sports pundits and bloggers look back on the year that was and compile a slew of best/worst of lists, rankings and other compilations. This phenomenon is compounded by the approaching end of a decade, and we all know that there's nothing more meaningful than judging a team by an arbitrary 10 year snapshot of their performance without regard for an infinite number of variables. The problem with these lists is that all the attention is focused on the extremes like the biggest "winners" and "losers."
In the NBA for example, all of the debate centers around the Lakers and Spurs or Knicks and Clippers. But what about the teams that spent the decade mired in mediocrity...achieving neither greatness, nor spectacular failure? Where is the appreciation for the teams that make the sports world go round, the vast middle of the pack. Who are the decade's C+ students that spent the last 10 years flying under the radar...not showing off or falling behind but left a track record that leaves the casual observer thinking "that team is nothing special, but at least they aren't owned by Donald Sterling or James Dolan."
The team that epitomized mediocrity from 2000-Present has been they Minnesota Timberwolves...and not just because it makes the phrase "middle of the pack" more appropriate. For the last 10 years, the T-Wolves have been as dependable as Cal Ripken, Jr. As long as you weren't depending on them for championships, meltdowns, drama or entertainment...
During the last 10 seasons Minnesota has compiled a nearly perfect .500 record, making the playoffs 5 of the 10 years, but failed to make a Finals appearance (sorry, no partial credit for your assist to the C's). With their worst season coming in 2008, they managed to avoid a truuuuly horrendous season (see: the current New Jersey Nets)..but ultimately failed to put together a season better than "very good". While fans were rightfully disappointed with the teams failure to acquire a complement to KG, before sending him off, gift wrapped to Boston...the franchise managed to avoid major mis-steps that have set back other teams like the Knicks' Isiah phase, the Nets' move to Brooklyn, the Pacers Brawl, Blazers' bad luck or any move made by the Clippers. To be honest, the most interesting basketball related story to come out Minnesota is Charlie Murphy's story about Prince from the Chapelle's Show.
Here's to you 2000's Timberwolves! You never got to hoist the hardware or wear the rings, but you also haven't been showered by foam fingers on your home court and your arena doesn't give away the opposing teams jersey with tickets to their HOME games. So celebrate the stranglehold you have on the middle of the pack...but if you want to remain mediocre into the next decade, don't let Fred Smoot plan the party.