When I first heard the news that All-Star Jimmy Butler is demanding a trade from the seemingly rejuvenated Minnesota Timberwolves, a random chorus from an old song I remember from my skinny youth immediately popped in my head. The lyrics are as follows:
My tea’s gone cold, I’m wondering why I got out of bed at all.
The morning rain clouds up my window, and I can’t see at all.
And even if I could it’d all be grey, but your picture on my wall.
It reminds me that it’s not so bad, it’s not so bad.
What’s the first song that pops in your head when you read these lyrics? Is it Dido’s signature ode to her boyfriend, “Thank You,” the tender, trip hop ballad first heard in that one late-90’s Gwyneth Paltrow movie?
Or did you immediately remember Eminem sampling this track for his iconic rap about the macabre relationship of idolatry and fame obsession, “Stan”? (NSFW)
It’s rare to have both the original and sampled version of a song blow up at the same time like this pair of tunes did, which is why the answer to my query probably varies by the person.
In Dido’s original version, the aforementioned lyrics are a yearning soul’s confession framed by melancholy chords. Eventually, that longing sound shifts into a gentle sweetness as the song picks up momentum. It’s kinda like that morning fog over the Berkeley hills that eases away right around noon during the summertime to allow the sun’s warm rays to caress the reformed hippies parking their Priuses (or is it Priusi?) in front of Berkeley Bowl. The picture on the wall in the song’s narrative acts as a beacon of comfort and hope for the singer, a reminder that any negative circumstance “is not so bad, it’s not so ba-a-ad.”
However, much to my ear’s delight, in Slim Shady’s version, Dido’s dark intro verse doesn’t get washed away. Rather, he loops it, enclosing the piano pattern in an unrelenting loop that maximizes unforgiving tension. He even adds an ominous rain effect to fully trap the listener in a Twilight Zone episode that can only end tragically. The picture on the wall from Dido’s hook has now transformed into a symbol of the hopeless stalker, obsessing over the idol they crave to fill a bottomless void in their heart.
There is no escape, no hope, and the repeating sample of “it’s not so bad” now seems like a cruel joke played on a suffering man.
THAT’S the version that came to mind when I saw Butler taking the first step to forcing his way out of Minnesota.
It seems like just yesterday GSoM was doing a podcast with a Timberwolves writer to discuss their apparent bright future. I still remember what Mark Deeks wrote in a piece for GiveMeSport back in February: “The team blends youth and experience, with quality at every position. Lack of depth and concerns about (Minnesota head coach) Tom Thibodeau’s excessive minutes distribution notwithstanding, the Timberwolves are much improved and still improving. And it all stems from having two 2018 NBA All-Stars in Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns.”
Butler was the two-way star and no nonsense leader any contending team salivates for. Towns was the new-era big man, able to dominate both in the paint and from the outside. Those two studs combined with the youngster whose rights Minnesota received in exchange for the Kevin Love trade, Andrew Wiggins. The athletic former #1 overall pick had T’Wolves fans encouraged over his potential.
And let’s not forget that the T’Wolves were seen as a difficult possible matchup for the Steph Curry-less Warriors entering the 2018 postseason. After Minnesota handed the champs a mid-March defeat while Curry was on the shelf, the murmurings reached a crescendo. I wrote the recap on that one, and I can only chuckle as I reread commentors cautiously dipping their toes into “maybe it’s not our year, y’all” territory. This loss had some folks in Dub Nation lightweight shook! Lmao.
Said it before, still striking to see: Karl-Anthony Towns is one of the few guys in the league that Draymond has trouble with man-up. GSWs currently doubling KAT. It's a huge tribute to him.— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) March 11, 2018
The Timberwolves battled their way into the playoffs as an eight seed and sent shockwaves of excitement throughout their fanbase. John Meyer over at the T’Wolves blog, Canis Hoopus, eloquently expressed the emotion of watching the young team end the playoff drought to close out the regular season:
IT’S HARD NOT TO THINK ABOUT all of the cold nights walking slowly out of Target Center scrolling through my phone reading an endless sea of negative tweets. Too many nights have passed by to even count how many times I’ve asked myself the same question: When is this going to change?
Last night is a moment many Wolves fans have always held out hope for. Eventually, one day, the team would make the jump to the playoffs, be relevant once again, and experience lasting moments that wouldn’t soon fade away. Moments they can look back at years down the road and talk about.
Was this final win to end the playoff drought a stepping stone to a brighter future of NBA basketball in Minnesota, or was it more of an exorcism ridding the dark cloud hovering over Target Center? At this point, does it even matter?
Soon thereafter, the Timberwolves got bodied in the first round by the Houston Rockets in a swift five games. Still, it seemed like it was a necessary punishment, just another rung on the ladder to future success. I remember reading the piece Jonathan Tjarks penned for the Ringer during that series entitled “The Timberpups’ Postseason Trial by Fire Is Exactly What They Need” where he concluded, “If Wiggins and Towns can become complete basketball players, Minnesota can play with anyone.”
At the time, it seemed like the franchise’s gloomy recent history was finally being ebbed away by a bright, glimmering future on the shoulders of its young, dynamic core. Hope sprung forth like Dido’s crooning voice over those soaring chorus of “Thank You.”
Except, the basketball gods jumped on the turntables of basketball narrative this offseason and scratched that song out to flip it into the haunting “Stan” version.
First Coach Thibodeau bizarrely tried to reconstruct the bones of the failed Bulls teams he coached earlier in the decade. Then, a gut punch from the very man Coach Thibs was desperately trying to build around.
Jimmy Butler has requested a trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves, league sources tell me and @JonKrawczynski. Butler has given Minnesota a list of one-to-three teams with whom he's open to signing extension, in anticipation of trade.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 19, 2018
Wait, what? Butler has no interest in building this franchise any further? Here’s a breakdown from SB Nation on the big reasons why this divorce is looming; there’s definitely a lot of blame to go around. But, the important thing is that the team holds it together during this period of turmoil—
Wait...why did Andrew Wiggins’ brother just tweet (a since deleted tweet) giving a shout of praise to Butler’s trade request?!
Jimmy ain’t worried about nothing ♂️— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) September 20, 2018
(via jimmybutler/IG) pic.twitter.com/hUQyvMcCej
Hold up, is Jimmy Buckets responding back to the “hallelujah” from his teammate’s brother?
WAIT WHO IS ANDREW WIGGINS NOW CALLING OUT?!!?! #drama
Look, as a long-suffering Dubs fan I can certainly empathize with that crushing feeling that envelops you after you find out your favorite team is about to clumsily ruin a promising future. Hell, as an A’s and Raiders fan, my life is filled with these moments. We even ran a piece recently called “The Ones That Left: Five players the Warriors let slip away”, just to vent about moments like this, even if they occurred years ago!
There’s something about being connected to a team you care about that makes unfulfilled promise just as scary and haunting as Eminem’s rap. Now as a scribe of the Golden Dynasty, I’m finally getting some much needed recompense for the lean years.
Minnesota fans, off the record, as someone who has suffered in similar silly sports-related ways before, I feel for you during your time of disappointment and trade machine experimentation. Just as our day came, yours will too sometime. Never lose the hope!
Also, on the record, as someone who is a subject of the glorious Golden Empire, let me remind you that your team was going to get destroyed by the Warriors anyway. How upset could you really be? At least this way you can accelerate the rebuilding process while you try to wait until Steph Curry retires. Damn, isn’t it crazy that your franchise drafted two point guards instead of Curry all those years ago? Sheesh, crazy how life works out.
Just remember, it’s not so bad...it’s not so b-a-a-d.