They Can't All Be Winners, Part 28: Minnesota Timberwolves

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Psychically, youth is a site of pain because it holds unrecoverable moments of supreme joy and dumbshittery. Why is it that the good stuff produces pangs of loss—you will never be happy in the exact way you were that night, smoking hash on the back porch with those girls from Buffalo—and the embarrassments are as painful as they were when you suffered them the first time? Nostalgia and regret go down differently, but both sit restlessly in the gut. They arrive when you try to get something back, but can’t.

The appeal of Andrew Wiggins is simple in the way the appeal of any springy, guileless 20-year-old athlete is: he hasn’t fucked anything up yet, and could plausibly go on to do great things. He is handsomely packaged intrigue; he is always half-full. Even his flaws, at this early stage of his development, are not characterized as flaws so much as areas in which he can improve. Wiggins is an aspirational figure. There is practically nothing of which he isn’t capable.

I have been thinking about myself at 20 lately, how closed off the world felt even then. I was using college as a stalling tactic. I had read some Beckett around then—let’s not play pretend here: skimmed some Beckett—and it sounded about right to me. I resigned to try to have a good time while I didn’t have to have a job, to do as little schoolwork as possible, and to write whenever I felt compelled to. I didn’t figure this would go anywhere, and I was half-right. All my friends from that time have left town, or fallen out of touch, save for the blonde girl I love and live with. I have been a working writer as often as I have been an unemployed one. Where I’m at is nowhere, and it isn’t. It depends what kind of mood I’m in, whether the work is flowing or not. In the early morning, when I am tired and beset by Beckettian woe, I yearn to be 20 again not because I was happier then, but because I miss old friends and old times, and being without responsibility, and being nowhere and feeling like that was where I belonged.

This is the thing about Andrew Wiggins that is so wonderful: I can look at him and genuinely believe in the vastness of possibility, if not for myself, then for this glorious great heron of a 20-year-old, with long limbs and a vertical leap like he’s got superballs in shoes. When Wiggins plays, youth isn’t a site of pain, but a bracing shock to the system. My god, he could be anything he wants to be. It’s powerful stuff, on days when the work doesn’t flow, and I am without hope.

Previously on TCABW: Charlotte Hornets | Philadelphia 76ers | Houston Rockets | Los Angeles Lakers | Dallas Mavericks Indiana Pacers | Oklahoma City Thunder | Memphis Grizzlies | Chicago Bulls | Washington Wizards Cleveland Cavaliers Brooklyn Nets New York Knicks Denver Nuggets Miami Heat Los Angeles Clippers Atlanta Hawks Utah Jazz Sacramento Kings Milwaukee Bucks Toronto Raptors Detroit Pistons New Orleans Pelicans Phoenix Suns Boston Celtics Orlando Magic | Portland Trail Blazers

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