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Should Timberwolves acquire Kyrie Erving?

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By Larry Fitzgerald
August 2, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

Nobody has done more to improve their roster than the Minnesota Timberwolves since Golden State captured their second NBA title in June over Cleveland. After the team finished 31-51, missing the playoffs for the 13th consecutive season, Tom Thibodeau and Scott Layden took their time, rolled up their sleeves, and worked the system. Suddenly the Timberwolves look like a playoff contender.

Trading veteran Ricky Rubio to Utah for a 2018 first-round pick, releasing forward Nickalo Pekovic, making the blockbuster deal with Chicago for All-Star Jimmy Butler in exchange for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and Minnesota’s number-seven overall pick has set the tone for change.

That deal sent shock waves through the NBA community. It got players talking about Minnesota as the place to play.
All-Star guard Jeff Teague was signed as well as forward Taj Gibson; and the foundation for the future, Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony Towns, 21 and 22 years old respectively, is already in place. What Thibodeau has done is infused the organization because he has credibility as a coach around the league. Players know he’s about winning and want to play where they can see progress in the making.

Suddenly two weeks ago, after all the moves the Timberwolves have made, even signing veteran reserve guard Jamaal Crawford, All-Star Kyrie Erving, one of the NBA’s top point guards, wants out of Cleveland. After three straight years in the NBA Finals and helping Cleveland win their first championship of any kind in 54 years, he says he wants to go elsewhere. And he tells his agent and Cleveland he wants to go to Minnesota.

Does he have issues with LeBron James? Is he upset that Cleveland just fired their general manager, the guy who drafted him number-one overall out of Duke? Remember, he came into the league after a serious injury his last year at Duke. Whatever his reasons are now for wanting out of Cleveland, if I were the Timberwolves I would not make that deal.

Erving’s body has taken a beating going deep in the playoffs three straight years in a row and logging deep minutes. Cleveland would want Wiggins in exchange, who the Wolves acquired in the Kevin Love deal three years ago.

As talented as Erving is having won a title already, Wiggins I feel has not yet hit his growth ceiling. He is still evolving as a player. I like his game and his mental approach to the game. I hope the Timberwolves are patient and pass on dealing for Erving and allow this current group they have now to grow together.

Erving has a history of getting hurt. It’s part of the game, but he plays with the ball a lot in creating contact in the lane. I want to see Towns, Wiggins, Butler and Teague together. I think the Timberwolves, with Butler’s leadership and Teague’s ability to push the tempo, are ready to go.


Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on 
Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.

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GDG rundown for the weekend of July 14th-16th (a.k.a. X-Games Weekend 2017)

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This week, we get a chance to breathe with much of the Sports buzz slowing to a whisper.  But there’s still stuff to talk about, and our hosts don’t take breaks.  Eric and Larry are back in the Downtown Minneapolis studio to chat about the MLB All-Star Game and baseball at the break.  And that’s not all they get to discuss.  There’s the cashflow of the NBA offseason, the best baseball stadiums around, and naming rights for a college hockey arena.  And they’re joined by GDG’s Scott Taylor, who gets to chat up some CFL, NHL, and the impacts of arbitration.

MLB Showcases Fun in the Sun

Segment 1: Major League Baseball celebrated the game this week, holding the 88th annual All-Star Game in Miami.  How did the American League’s victory square up this game’s history?  Then, Eric and Larry reminisce on the influence of Latin ballplayers, including former Twins legend and MLB Hall of Famer Rod Carew.

 

Baseball’s Best and the Game’s Popularity Struggles

Segment 2: At baseball’s break, the L.A. Dodgers and the Houston Astros are the talk of the sport.  Are these teams destined to meet in the World Series?  After that, is the lack of a clock hurting baseball in this modern age of gadgets and shorter attention spans?

 

The Best Views and the Stars Shine Bright

Segment 3: With our minds on baseball, why not look at the favorite ballparks around the nation.  The fellas discuss one list of the best in the U.S., then explain their feelings for certain venues.  And the annual ESPYs took place on Wednesday.  We hear about some of the winners from the most glamorous night in Sports.

 

GDG’s Scott Taylor Offers Some Maple Leaf Love

Segment 4: Football may not be going on in the States, but it has started north of the border.  GDG’s Scott Taylor checks in from this week’s matchup between the Toronto Argonauts and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.  He talks with the guys about the popularity of the CFL and its comparison to the NHL.  Plus, can Canadian son Andrew Wiggins be on the verge of leading a great team?  And what might the impacts be of Mikael Granlund’s arbitration case?

Winnipeg Blue Bombers vs. Toronto Argonauts

Winnipeg vs Toronto Argonauts during CFL action in Winnipeg on Thursday, July,13,2017. (Photo Credit Jeff Miller)

 

When Business and Sports Collide

Segment 5: Eric and Larry piggyback off of the arbitration discussion that Scott Taylor brought up.  What happens when egos this big clash over dollars?  Then, could Carmelo Anthony help Houston create another “superteam”?

 

The Name’s the Thing

Segment 6: There’s something new about the Gopher hockey team.  Our hosts talk about the new name and sponsorship of Mariucci Arena.  Sticking with the U of M, can P.J. Fleck find an advantage over at TCF Bank Stadium?  Plus, we hear about the Mayweather-McGregor hype tour and the U.S. Women’s Open crossing paths with President Trump.

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GDG rundown for the weekend of July 7th-9th

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The baseball season is reaching its intermission.  Before that, Eric and Larry get out to the ballpark to take in a game.  They broadcast this week’s program from Target Field, just moments after the weekend series opener between the Twins and Orioles.  The guys dive headfirst into the Twinkies and their ability to hang around the top of the division.  They also get an outside perspective from Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer.  Along with talk about the Great American Pasttime, we’ll also hear some chatter on the Timberwolves’ offseason, a trip to a PGA Tour course, and a “get-back” win for the Lynx.

One Last Lunge Into the Break

Segment 1: The Twins will complete their final homestand before the All-Star Break, and they’ll still be in the hunt for a postseason spot.  But what does the first-half parity mean across MLB?  Plus, the fellas look back at the Midsummer Classic that changed everything.

 

Target Field - Minneapolis, MN

Major League Baseball in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota

 

A Welcome Sight at Target Field

Segment 2: A local legend made it back to the Twin Cities this week.  Eric and Larry discuss Rod Carew’s return to Target Field for the first time since receiving a heart transplant.  After that, Larry tells us about the vacation he took to West Virginia’s famed Greenbrier Resort (home to this week’s PGA Greenbrier Classic).

 

Central Surprises…Good & Bad

Segment 3: The Twins aren’t the only Upper Midwest team turning heads this season.  Our hosts peek toward the shores of Lake Michigan, where the Milwaukee Brewers are the surprise leaders in the NL Central.  But the question in that division…what’s happened to the defending champion Cubs?

 

NBA Wheeling and Dealing in Full Effect

Segment 4: After the guys give their thoughts on Miami hosting the All-Star Game, they turn to the NBA.  Have the Timberwolves acquitted themselves well with the additions they’ve made to the roster (Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson)?  And they’re not the only team making moves in the Association.

 

Coming Up Aces: GDG Chats with Hall of Fame Pitcher Jim Palmer

Segment 5: The Baltimore Orioles are making their lone trip to Minneapolis this weekend.  It didn’t start very well as they lost the series opener on Thursday.  But why have the O’s struggled after a hot start?  The guys find out when they chat with color analyst and MLB Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer.  What are his impressions of the surprising Twins?

 

A WNBA Showdown in St. Paul

Segment 6: The Lynx made a statement, and got a touch of revenge, by beating defending WNBA champ Los Angeles on Thursday.  Will this bode well for the rest of the regular season…and beyond?

 

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GDG rundown for the weekend of June 30th – July 2nd

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The Timberwolves did some big-time shopping last week, ending up with one heck of a deal.  And what better place to find whatever you need than the Mall of America?  That’s where Eric and Larry were for Jimmy Butler’s introductory press conference.  They break down the impact that the trade could have on the roster.  Tom Thibodeau helps us understand the inner workings of the deal, while columnist Joe Cowley explains reaction surrounding Butler’s former team, the Chicago Bulls.  And former Viking Leo Lewis gives us a look at the effect of high school sports on a community.

Let’s Go to the Mall

Segment 1: The Mall of America was the center of hoops hope on Thursday, with the Timberwolves officially introducing Jimmy Butler to their roster.  The guys took in the event and pontificated on whether fandom hope can turn into playoff appearances.

Jimmy Butler at Mall of America June 29, 2017

Timberwolves welcome Jimmy Butler at Mall of America

The Next Move for the Wolves

Segment 2: So, now that the Wolves have their big-name veteran on the roster, what’s next?  The fellas discuss what the rest of the offseason may hold.  And how did the Wild fare over their draft weekend?

Leo Lewis Takes His Love of Athletics to the Classroom

Segment 3: Former Viking Leo Lewis is now bringing his leadership prowess to the next generation.  The current A.D. at Minneapolis North H.S. discusses his efforts to put an emphasis on community, education, and athletics.

Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times Describes the Other Side

Segment 4: We know how the Twin Cities is receiving the Jimmy Butler trade.  But what about Chicago?  Sun-Times columnist Joe Cowley looks at whether the Bulls made a smart decision and whether they have a defined direction.

A Victorious Reunion?  Tom Thibodeau Breaks Down the Butler Trade

Segment 5: If you want to know the how, what, and why of the Draft night trade for Jimmy Butler, why not talk with one of the men behind it.  We hear those answers from Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau.  Plus, where does this leave the team in the pecking order of the chaotic Western Conference?

Keeping Up, Kicking Into Gear, and Kombucha Tea

Segment 6: The Twins are trying to stick around in the AL Central race.  Eric and Larry get a sense of where the team is as they wrap up a long road trip.  The first Vegas NHL roster is coming into focus.  Then, more controversy is following new Vikings WR Michael Floyd.

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Timberwolves get a new beginning

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By Larry Fitzgerald
June 27, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

 

It finally has arrived after 13 years of absolute failure, four different head coaches in four years, and four team presidents. In 2017-18 the Timberwolves will return to the NBA living.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on renovating Target Center. The three-time WNBA champion Lynx have been sent to St. Paul this year while their Target Center home make-over and renovation continues. As the World Champion Golden State Warriors have proven, if you can win NBA titles in Oakland at Oracle Arena, you can win anywhere.

The Timberwolves again have looked to Chicago to save their lost franchise. Remember, Kevin Garnett played high school basketball on the West Side in Chicago before Timberwolves Vice President Kevin McHale and Flip Saunders drafted the high school star.

Minnesota Timberwolves recent acquisition Jimmy Butler

NBA All-Star Jimmy Butler

He helped turn the Timberwolves into winners on their first (logo) and once was an MVP. Last week on NBA Draft Day, the Timberwolves, now on their third logo, agreed to a blockbuster multi-player deal with the six-time NBA champion Chicago Bulls for three-time NBA All-Star forward Jimmy Butler.

Last year the Bulls signed Chicago native and three-time NBA champion Dwayne Wade away from Miami. His contract is for two years with $48 million guaranteed. That put the Bulls in a bind financially.

Butler is already under contract, and because Tom Thibodeau coached in Chicago for five years and Butler was his best player, he was able to dangle just enough chips at Chicago’s general manager to tease this deal.

Chicago gets two-time NBA slam dunk champion guard Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn, last year’s number-four overall pick. Plus they get the 2017 number-seven overall pick of the Timberwolves, Lauri Markkanen, in exchange for Chicago’s number 16 overall pick, 6’-11” center Justin Patton from Creighton. It looks like a win-win for both teams.

Both teams get value and talent. The Bulls need cap space. The Wolves have plenty of cap room after releasing center Nickalo Peckovic and desperately need Butler, a winner, a team leader, and a great defender.

The Bulls get LaVine, who averaged 19 points a game last year before injuring his knee late in the season. His upside potential is unlimited. I saw LaVine at the NBA Finals and talked to him. He said he is 90 percent recovered from the injury. Obviously the Bulls think he’s ready or no way would they make this deal.

This is the type of deal that can make the Timberwolves a playoff contender right now. Butler loves Thibodeau and his rugged style and will run through a wall for him.

Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau

Blockbuster trade brings Jimmy Butler to Minnesota!

Thibodeau needs a veteran superstar like Butler, 27 and a former All-NBA defensive second-team player, to show the young stars Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony Towns that it starts on defense and to trust in Thibodeau’s system and work ethic.

I love this deal for the Timberwolves. It is exactly what they need now, and the timing is perfect. I think the Timberwolves have the foundation talent now to win 50 games a season for years to come. My question to you is this: Did the Timberwolves get better with Butler?

 

 

 

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.

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Eric Nelson

SPORTS NUGGETS: Timberwolves should give KG some love

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By Eric Nelson

February 14, 2017

GAMEDAY GOLD

MINNEAPOLIS – Sports Nuggets from the tropical Twin Cities…

 

• Valentine’s Salute: Since it’s Valentine’s Day, it only seems fitting to bring up an athlete that Minnesota sports fans love – Kevin Garnett. KG is the greatest Timberwolves player ever, and brought unharnessed energy and pure passion to the floor every game. Garnett loved to play and Minnesota fans loved his desire and motivation…

•Hoops Breakup: After 22 NBA seasons (14 with the Wolves) Garnett is into year one of retirement. When Flip Saunders brought KG back to “Sota” in 2014, it appeared to be a storybook ending to a spectacular career. Garnett had come full circle and even had aspirations of becoming part-owner of the Wolves. But, all that changed when new HC Tom Thibodeau took over last summer and quickly sent Garnett packing. KG was treated more like a guy on a 10-day contract – instead of someone who will someday be in the Pro Basketball HOF and was part of eight straight playoff teams in Minnesota (1996-2004)…

•KG Night: Was the parting acrimonious? Possibly. Should the Wolves have handled Garnett’s departure better? Probably. But, the Association is a cold, cruel business and what’s done is done. However, what needs to be done is for Minnesota to bring Garnett back and have “KG night” at Target Center. Retire his number 21 Wolves jersey and throw a festive bash. Show KG some love…

•Bronze Tribute: When Target Center’s $150 million renovation is finished in November, Minnesota should put a KG statue outside the arena. Garnett’s resume (former MVP, 15 time All-Star and 12 time all defensive team) has earned him that kind of salute…

•Lovey-Dovey: Both the Timberwolves and the Wild are playing on Valentine’s night. Lebron James and the NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers will be at Target Center, while the Anaheim Ducks go against former HC Bruce Boudreau at the Xcel Energy Center. The matchups have plenty of juice, but for obvious reasons, kiss-cam could be the highlight of the evening in both arenas…

•Missing Love: Former Wolves star Kevin Love has an injured left knee and will not play for the Cavs against  Minnesota. All of which means there will be no Love for Cleveland on Valentine’s Day…

•Triple Digit Streak: The good times continue for the U-Conn women’s basketball team. The top-ranked Huskies knocked off No. 6 South Carolina 66-55 Monday night for their 100th consecutive win. This is clearly one of the most impressive accomplishments in sports history and ranks right up there with UCLA’s 88-game winning streak from 1971-74…

•Just a Hunch: I am guessing that Tracy Claeys and Mark Coyle did not exchange Valentine’s cards this year…

•Raw Deal: The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that Claeys did not get a fair shake from the U of M. Despite dealing with off-the-field turbulence, Claeys and the Gophers were 9-4 last season and finished with an impressive Holiday Bowl win against Washington State. Claeys deserved better…

•Parade of Champions: If you’re keeping score at home, Boston has now celebrated 15 sports championships since 2001. The Patriots (5) lead the way followed by BC hockey (4), the Red Sox (3), Bruins (1), Celtics (1) and BU hockey (1). Winning titles is so common in Beantown, that Boston would be wise to add championship parade costs to the city budget…

•Skiers Mecca: Iconic Mt. Hood in Oregon has 29 feet of snow, which is 200 percent more than normal. All that powder should have skiers flocking to Hood…

 

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Larry Fitzgerald, Sr.

Can Timberwolves finally show a growth spurt?

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By Larry Fitzgerald
November 16, 2016
GAMEDAY GOLD

How long is too long? And at what point do fans decide enough is enough? After 12 years of the Timberwolves missing the playoffs, I feel being patient and trusting have just about run their course.

Every organization experiences tough breaks, losing star players in free agency and injuries. Some teams fail because management and the coaching staff work against each other, both seeking more control over basketball decisions.

Three years ago, Flip Saunders was brought back by owner Glen Taylor to help rebuild this organization, which appeared to have lost its way. Two years ago, Saunders died after a sudden battle with cancer. Much of the work he put in motion kind of drifted through a season of mourning. Sam Mitchell was interim coach and led the team to 29 wins.

That was a big improvement over the previous one year under Saunders with only 16 wins. Still, Taylor decided he would not hang with Mitchell and the staff that Saunders hired. He virtually cleaned house and hired Tom Thibodeau as president of basketball operations and head coach.

Minnesota Timberwolves head coach shouts from the sidelines at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Coach has something to say

Thibodeau is well respected and highly regarded and was very successful in Chicago for five years. He was five for five, making the playoffs each year. He is trusted with taking this young, talented core of carefully selected players to the next level.

Many expect the Timberwolves to be a playoff team this year, although some are disappointed already with the team’s 3-6 start in which several big leads have been blown. Thibodeau does not bite his tongue about his team — he’s called them out for at times lacking discipline and toughness.

When he has about 20 games in with these guys, you will start to see Thibodeau’s imprint — improved consistency and working together as a unit. His ability to make in-game adjustments is highly regarded.

Drafting point guard Kris Dunn number one to team with Ricky Rubio, Zach LeVine and Tyus Jones was a good move — he’s talented and a good defender. The talented Karl Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Zach Lavine, Gorgui Dieng and Ricky Rubio have had time together. I’m a big believer in Thibodeau staying the course and teaching his team the little things.

The Western Conference is so deep and loaded — Golden State, San Antonio, Los Angeles, Oklahoma City, Portland, Memphis, Utah — that everyone is good.

 

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.

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Eric Nelson

SPORTS NUGGETS: Magic Johnson sees playoffs in the Minnesota Timberwolves future

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By Eric Nelson
October 25, 2016
GAMEDAY GOLD

 

MINNEAPOLIS – Sports Nuggets from the North Star State…

 

•Magic Endorsement: NBA legend Magic Johnson thinks the Minnesota Timberwolves are trending up. The Former LA Lakers great – who now owns the WNBA Sparks and is part-owner of the MLB Dodgers – is high on the Wolves. “They have the pieces now,” Magic said. “Everybody’s a year older. You can never underestimate experience. Now everybody will know what to do and how to do it…”

•Playoff-bound: Minnesota has not been in the post-season since 2004 – the longest current playoff drought in the NBA. Magic is high on Andrew Wiggins and Karl -Anthony Towns, and believes the Wolves are ready to end their post-season dry-spell. “It’s a complete roster and a complete team,” Magic said. “You have to be complete to make the playoffs. I see a complete team and they are ready to challenge now…”

•Tom Terrific: Magic gave a glowing review of new Wolves HC Tom Thibodeau. “This dude can coach,” Magic said. “I love him and I’ve always promoted him because he’s so super smart. He’s one of the best in the game at making in-game adjustments. A lot of coaches can coach but they can’t see something ahead. He can see ahead and he can make great in-game adjustments…”

•No “D”… No Play: Defense is Thibodeau’s hallmark and Magic says anyone playing for him better be good in that phase of the game or they won’t get much playing time. “You don’t play d,” Magic said, “you’re going to be sitting down…

•Vin’s Void: Magic wants to see a statue of iconic broadcaster Vin Scully put up outside Dodger Stadium and hopes that Scully comes back someday to do a guest inning of play by play – no matter what the cost. “He is Dodger baseball,” Magic said. “The sweetest voice we’ve ever heard. He’s going to be so missed because the fan base associated Vince and the Dodgers. Now you just have the Dodgers and that’s going to be a rude awakening for our fan base. Even if our team was struggling, people would tune in just to hear Vince call the game…”

•Minnesota Makeover: The renovation of Target Center is underway. The $130 million project has been going on for 5 1/2 months and is expected to be finished in one year. The new video board is already installed along with some major upgrades to club/suite areas. Twin Cities-based Mortenson Construction is handling the renovation. Mortenson has built many sports venues, including Target Field, TCF Bank Stadium, US Bank Stadium and the Xcel Energy Center. Target Center is the first sports facility Mortenson ever built, so the company has come full circle…

•In Demand: Mortenson is currently working on 170 sports and entertainment projects totaling $9 billion, including the Milwaukee Bucks new arena…

•Eclipsed by success: The Chicago Cubs-Cleveland World Series match up takes some heat off the NFL teams who play in those two lakefront cities. The Cubs and Indians are generating plenty of attention, meaning that the woeful Bears (1-6) and winless Browns (0-7) won’t be getting ripped as much as normal. The Bears are anemic and the Brownies are baked…

•Windy City trip: The Bears might be just what the Minnesota Vikings need to get back on track. Minnesota and Chicago play next Monday night at Soldier Field. The Vikings (5-1) lost their first game of the season last week in Philadelphia, 21-10…

•200 Club: Miami RB Jay Ajayi gashed another defense on Sunday. Ajayi ran for 214 yards in the Dolphins 28-25 win over Buffalo, becoming just the fourth player in NFL history to log back-to-back 200 yard rushing games. Ajayi – who is in his second season – is a well-traveled guy. He was born in London, UK, played HS football in the Dallas suburb of Frisco, TX and went to Boise State…

•Crunch Time: Minnesota United lost at Carolina 1-0 on Saturday 1-0, dropping to 5th place in the NASL. Minn U (41 points) hosts the New York Cosmos Saturday night in the last game of the regular season. A Minnesota win combined with a Rayo OKC loss, would put the Loons in the playoffs for the third straight season…

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Gameday Gold Radio – June 30, 2017 – s.5

A Victorious Reunion?  Tom Thibodeau Breaks Down the Butler Trade

Segment 5: If you want to know the how, what, and why of the Draft night trade for Jimmy Butler, why not talk with one of the men behind it.  We hear those answers from Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau.  Plus, where does this leave the team in the pecking order of the chaotic Western Conference?

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Gameday Gold Radio – October 21, 2016 – s.6

Rip-Roaring Wild and the MLB All-Star Effect

Segment 6: The Wild are off to a winning start under new coach Bruce Boudreau.  Eric and Larry dig into the new-look squad.  With the additions of Boudreau and Tom Thibodeau, how good is the current conglomeration of Twin Cities pro coaches?  And we have one participant waiting for a World Series opponent.  Will the Cleveland Indians have the decided advantage, no matter whom they face?