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The Best, The Brightest, and The Quiet Legend

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Segment 6: The world of sports and entertainment collided once again, with the ESPY Awards taking place this week.  Larry rejoins the program to discuss some of the show’s highlights with Eric, including the speech made by some of the NBA’s biggest stars.  Then, how do our hosts remember the great Tim Duncan, whom has called it a career after an outstanding, 19-year NBA campaign.

Gameday Gold Part 6 / 7-14-16

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SPORTS NUGGETS: Kudos to the Minnesota Lynx for taking a stance

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By Eric Nelson
July 12, 2016
GAMEDAY GOLD

MINNEAPOLIS – Sports Nuggets from the North Star State…

•Courageous stance: If you don’t take a stand, you take a fall. The Minnesota Lynx took a stand before Saturday night’s game against the Dallas Wings when they sported black warmup jerseys that said, “Change starts with us. Justice & Accountability.” On the back of the shirts were the names of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling – two African-Americans shot by police in Falcon Heights, MN and Baton Rouge, LA – a Dallas police symbol and the phrase “Black Lives Matter. The Lynx have taken some heat for this, but that is to be expected. I applaud the Lynx for standing up and making a statement. They had every right to voice their opinions on an explosive topic. Their message will hopefully get the ball rolling on positive change that is long overdue between police and African-Americans in the United States…

•Learning lessons: In the department of global affairs, sports is the toy department. But, these games that we passionately follow, also offer us valuable insight into teamwork and how to get along. In these incredibly polarized times, the USA can learn something from sports. Athletes of all races and backgrounds find a way to come together in the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, MLS and other sports. They rely on each other for success or failure. Color, religion or sexuality rarely comes into play. They are links in a chain with one common objective – winning games. Let’s hope the real world can take a cue from the toy department…

•Model of success: Sports is definitely not perfect when it comes to race relations and there are things that need to get better to foster more harmony and fairness. But, sports is far ahead of other things in the US when it comes to equality and learning to co-exist…

•New hire: The Timberwolves and Lynx have hired Ethan Casson as the franchise’s new CEO. Casson begins his duties with the organization on August 8. Casson comes from the San Francisco 49ers where he was their COO. Before that Casson was with the Wolves and Lynx for 11 years…

•Trending up: It’s been mostly gloom and doom for the Minnesota Twins this season. However, there have been some bright spots recently. The Twins just took three of four in Texas, and have won 7 of their last 10 games going into the All-Star break. Minnesota (32-56) is still a last place team in the AL Central, but the Twins are 5-2 against the Rangers (54-36), who lead the AL West…

•Power ball: Two guys who have fueled the Twins recent run are Max Kepler and Kennys Vargas. Both Kepler and Vargas began the season at Triple A Rochester, but since getting called up have made an impact. In 46 games, Kepler has eight home runs, 11 doubles and 33 RBI . In six games, Vargas is batting .471 with 3 taters and 4 RBI…

•Mid-season vacay: Except for Twins All-Star Eduardo Nunez, the rest of the team has a few days off. Minnesota’s next game is Friday against Cleveland at Target Field. The Indians (52-36) are on top of the AL Central…

•Homecoming: NY Jets CB Marcus Williams conducted his youth football camps last week in the Twin Cities. Williams, who played for Hopkins HS, had six interceptions for the Jets in 2015. Williams also was a star at North Dakota State…

•Mr. Dependable: Of all the qualities Tim Duncan had in his remarkable NBA career, the most impressive was durability. Duncan, who retired on Monday, played 19 seasons and was as much of a fixture in San Antonio as The Alamo. Duncan did not have a lot of flash and dash, but he could play. Game in and game out, Duncan showed up and performed at a high level. He is a two-time MVP and three-time NBA Finals MVP, who was a pillar on the Spurs’ 5 title teams…

•Low-key star: Duncan was the polar opposite of Kobe Bryant. Duncan played off the grid in central Texas, while Bryant achieved his greatness in Los Angeles – the entertainment capital of the USA. Duncan goes into retirement without any fanfare, while Bryant had going away parties in every city the Lakers played in last season. Duncan stayed out of the spotlight, while Bryant was always in it. They were two superduperstars who played at the same time, spent their entire career with the same team and won the same amount of championships. Both guys will be missed a lot…

•HOF-bound: Next stop for Duncan is the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA. Duncan is one of the NBA’s all-time greats and deserves every accolade he gets…

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The Wolves and Wild Bring in Some Fresh Blood

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Segment 2: The Timberwolves didn’t make as big of a splash in the beginning of the free agency period, but they did add a couple of veteran pieces to the roster.  The guys discuss how big of an impact Brandon Rush will have on the young stars.  Plus, the Wild are being active in their offseason pursuits as well.

Gameday Gold Part 2 / 7-8-16

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SPORTS NUGGETS: A stormy night turns into delayed gratification for Minnesota Twins fans

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By Eric Nelson
July 7, 2016
GAMEDAY GOLD

MINNEAPOLIS – Sports Nuggets from the stormy Twin Cities…

•Delayed gratification: Because of powerful storms that battered the Twin Cities,Tuesday’s Oakland-Minnesota game did not start until 9:52 pm CT. Most fans chose to ignore Target Field that night because it was two sub-par teams playing at a very odd time. However, curiosity got the best of me, and I showed up – just to see who would show up for a game that started on a Tuesday and finished on a Wednesday. I quickly discovered that not many fans shared my enthusiasm for late night baseball. The ballpark was practically empty and the event seemed more minor league than major league …

•Cozy gathering: The announced crowd for the A’s-Twins matchup was 16,938. That was tickets sold. My guess is there were no more than 2,000 fans at Target Field. Most of those hard-cores were clustered into the first and second decks of the venue. Ushers let fans roam freely and sit where ever they wanted. I glady took my three boys to the first row behind the Twins dugout where we camped out for most of the game and had lots of fun. It was literally possible to hear other fans talking, and anyone who cheered or booed loudly, stood out. The crowd was so small almost every couple in attendance got on the kiss cam…

•Two for one: The Twins initially received heavy criticism for playing the game after a marathon rain delay. Many fans either left the ballpark or never showed up, and it appeared they would be eating their tickets. However, Minnesota reversed the tide of criticism by letting anyone with a ticket to the game also use it for free admission to a future contest. Once inside, the Twins did their best to make the sparse gathering feel welcome. Ball boys, players and coaches tossed baseballs into the stands like candy. If you were sitting anywhere near the Oakland or Minnesota dugouts, odds were good you got a souvenir ball…

•Closing time: For the record, the game did not end until 1 am, which meant the smallish turnout still had one hour of bar time left in the Minneapolis Wherehouse District. The Twins won 11-4, as Kennys Vargas, Max Kepler and Miguel Sano, hit home runs for Minnesota…

•Sports-saturated: The Twin Cities is a cluttered sports market. Rarely does a day go by when one of Minnesota’s teams are not in action. July 4th was a good example. The Twins lost to Oakland in a day game at Target Field and St. Paul defeated Joplin in a night game at CHS Field. I was at both events and it made me realize how lucky we are to have so many options in a metro area that has morphed into the sports capital of the USA…

•Baseball snapshots: When you see two games, in two cities, in one day there are bound to be some cool takeaways. At the A’s-Twins game, I saw a fan wearing a Tony Oliva jersey catch a foul ball off a carom early in the ballgame and just miss getting another one a couple innings later (the odds of getting one foul ball in a crowd of 23,100 are not good, getting two is practically astronomical). Another highlight was seeing Brian Dozier make a spectacular play at second base – laying out for a one hop grounder, then flipping the ball with his glove to Eduardo Nunez to start an amazing double play. It was also a bonus to drive into downtown Minneapolis on a Monday afternoon and not deal with the usual hassle factor – and park for free on the streets. Yup, it was a treat being at trendy Target Field on a 75 degree day as the USA celebrated birthday number 240…

•Explosive night: Meanwhile in lowertown St. Paul, scenic CHS Field was jumping as 9,973 fans jammed into the ballpark. The Saints blasted the Blasters 9-2 as pitcher Mark Hamburger (8-0) remained perfect and Alonzo Harris slugged a grand slam. The Saints sported patriotic red, white and blue uniforms and dazzled fans with a post-game fireworks show…

•Top dog: St. Paul is 32-15 this season, the best record in the American Association. The Saints have won four straight and lead Fargo-Moorhead by seven games in the North Division…

•Bitter divorce: Just a hunch, but I am guessing that Dwyane Wade and Pat Riley won’t be exchanging Christmas gifts this year…

•Goal-oriented: Christian Ramirez is the NASL player of the week after his three goal and one assist effort in Minnesota United’s 5-1 win over Carolina Saturday night. Ramirez leads the NASL with eight goals this season. Minn U is at Indy Eleven on Saturday night…

•Kicks and punches: Ramirez took up boxing in the off-season to improve his footwork and stamina. It is obviously paying off as he has become one of the top players in the NASL…

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Larry Fitzgerald, Sr.

Timberwolves select Kris Dunn

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Despite much speculation that the Chicago Bulls and the Timberwolves were working on a multi-player Draft Day deal, Timberwolves President and Coach Tom Thibodeau and General Manager Scott Layden did not bite on anything Boston or Chicago proposed. And most of the time that’s the best thing to do — nothing.

 

It’s been a long time since the Timberwolves were in the playoff mix. Can you say 12 years? Thibodeau took a giant step toward positioning the Timberwolves to continue on the growth spurt they currently enjoy.

 

Providence star Kris Dunn was taken by the Timberwolves with the fifth overall pick. Dunn at 6’-4” is easily the best true point guard in this Draft. He’s also a strong defensive player and has the potential to occasionally resemble Russell Westbrook.

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Asked about being drafted by the Wolves, Dunn said, “The first thing I feel like I could bring to the Wolves is my defense. I always tell people that’s my greatest strength, and that’s one thing you can control every game.”

 

Thibodeau is a special coach. He has his way of doing things, and he’s had much success doing things his way. And it starts on the defensive end. The selection of Dunn was a perfect fit for Thibodeau. Dunn is a foundation-type player.

 

You don’t win in this league unless you have the courage to stop people. That takes heart. Thibodeau will get right to the heart of the matter with this talented young Wolves group.

 

The Timberwolves have had the fifth overall pick in the NBA first round four times in their history with mixed results. Guard Ricky Rubio was the last fifth overall pick they selected in 2009. In due time, Dunn could very well be the guy that makes Rubio, who struggles with his shooting, expendable.

 

The Timberwolves have also selected with the fifth pick Ray Allen (1996 — they traded him, a big mistake), Isaiah Rider (1993) and Kevin Garnett (1995).

 

Obviously, Garnett is the greatest fifth-round pick in franchise history, a former league MVP and multi-year All-Star. Since 1980, the fifth overall pick has become an All-Star 11 times, and that pick has been NBA MVP twice — Kevin Garnett and Charles Barkley.

 

The Timberwolves also have Tyus Jones, drafted in 2015, at point guard, so for Rubio, Dunn and Jones in 2016-17, it will be survival of the fittest at the point.

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Honoring Two of America’s Best in Sport

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Segment 6: Independence Day is a chance to remember all that is great about this country.  Two people that embodied the greatness of America were Pat Summit and Buddy Ryan.  We lost both of them on Tuesday, and our hosts remember the legendary Tennessee women’s basketball coach and the tenacious NFL head coach and defensive coordinator.

Gameday Gold Part 6 / 7-1-16

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