Scott Weiland was the rock star you thought you could have been

Those who consider themselves knowers of music never paid much attention to Scott Weiland in his prime. His voice, not great. His lyrics, predictable. His moves, borrowed. His career, too long. But now that we’ve lived in the future long enough, we know there was no one better.

By Andrew Pridgen

Kurt Cobain was too beautiful and broken to be approachable.

Layne Staley happened to be the guy you’d meet at a party and thought “he’s cool” for about 19 minutes until you realized he wasn’t going to quit till he took you all the way down with him.

Shannon Hoon just sat in the back of art class and doodled with potential.

Bradley Nowell hung around, drank 40s and smoked weed on your back porch. He made you wonder how he ever scrounged enough for something to eat much less write something as transcendent as: And then she pulled out my mushroom tip, and, when it came out, it went drip, drip, drip. I didn’t know she had the G.I. Joe, kung-foo grip and get it on FM radio.

Andrew Wood, Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace were too good to stick around.

Along the way this generation also bid early goodbyes to Lynn Strait (Snot, car wreck), Stefanie Sargent (7-year Bitch, asphyxiation), Eazy-E (NWA, complications from AIDS), Mia Zapata (The Gits, murdered), Chris Acland (Lush, suicide), Kristen Pfaff (Hole, heroin), Ingo Schwichtenberg (Helloween, threw himself in front of a train), Jonathan Melvoin (Smashing Pumpkins, heroin), Jason Thirsk (Pennywise, suicide), Bobby Sheehan (Blues Traveler, overdose), Aaliyah (plane crash), Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopez (TLC, car wreck), Chi Cheng (Deftones, cardiac arrest as a result of a car crash), Elliott Smith (knife wounds—self-inflicted or otherwise), Adam Yauch (Beastie Boys, cancer) and Michael Hutchence (INXS, autoerotic self-asphyxiation).

There you have it: All my CD’s are full of scratches and ghosts.

But no loss to date has been as strangely profound to me as Scott Weiland’s resonantly quiet passage from this life in his sleep aboard a tour bus somewhere in Minnesota this week.

At 48, Weiland had already outlived his black-and-white giant record store poster eligibility.

If those who knew him best are to believed, he was chased by demons and beat them handily for three decades. But demons don’t ever leave. So there they were, finally having their day. They caught Weiland unawares in his slumber. Ha. An ironic and vengeful little succubus took him. He was pronounced dead in the parking lot of a Country Inn & Suites at the Mall of America. Fuck.

In the wake of Weiland’s two-decades-belated exit, there have been a handful of tributes worth reading: This one from Billy Corgan who I’m assuming is now at the concessions looking over at Courtney Love and shrugging. “And not only was the knight up front freshly handsome to a fault, but he could sing too,” he wrote.

Or this stuff-left-unsaid open letter from the rest of his Stone Temple Pilots: “The memories are many, and they run deep for us. We know amidst the good and the bad you struggled, time and time again. It’s what made you who you were. Part of that gift was part of your curse.”

In the same way every girl sounds like Taylor Swift in the shower, every guy’s voice is Scott Weiland. He made it look so damn easy you didn’t just want to be him, you were convinced you could be him.

I was one of one million undergrads wandering around campus in SilverTabs and an Eddie Bauer flannel who thought I might possess that same something Weiland did. A fledgling goatee. A sharp jaw. A piercing gaze with something doleful and ironic simmering beneath a curtain of bangs. Ultimately, I didn’t have it. None of us did. None of us could replicate it.

Who we wanted to be: Weiland in a rusty Cadillac backlit in purple wearing a pink mohair jacket with a cowboy hat molded to his head sailing across the desert, voice trailing in the dust cloud of his wake. Off to that somewhere land of possibility that rock and roll brought to life for generations. Those of us out of frame can only cover our faces in embarrassment over what our lives went on to become. Ear buds in, spreadsheets open, standing limp like an impassive groomsmen, blinking back at our monitors.

Take me back there one more time.

When I go, I find those old STP albums have become consequential. Try to resist singing along with every track of 1992’s Core. You can’t remember what slide three was supposed to say for your one o’clock presentation with your manager, but you magically know all the lyrics to Wicked Garden.

Next road trip, throw on 1994’s Purple after the first rest stop and lose all awareness of the number of times you let it play straight through. The trip will be over before you can snap into that emergency Slim Jim.

Give 1996’s Tiny Music a spin this week at work. The band had already broken up and gotten back together over Weiland’s love of cocaine. On the eve of ultimate dissolution, they decided to hunker down at a ranch in Santa Ynez and give it one more go. They created a radio-unfriendly portrait of men’s lives on the cusp of commitment where there is no clear direction.

Listening to STP now, I find myself trying to remember why they were so easy to ignore back then. That’s most people’s reference of the past, I reason.

STP was bigger than it should have been. At his best Weiland was better than he ought to have been. Bands don’t bother to attempt to sound like that anymore. And lead singers can’t pull off the rock star thing without having to suffuse irony. Music has grown and changed and not entirely in a glum way—there’s just a million more specialized vines stretching out from the fresh-dug grave of Weiland.

Ultimately, it’s a reasonable end.

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Barry Bonds: Real-life misanthrope and social media genius

How did the most hated man in all of sport become the happiest guy on the internet?

By Andrew Pridgen

Barry Bonds has always been known for a kind of calculated obtuseness. In the ‘90s and early 2000s, when he came to prominence as the greatest hitter of his generation and arguably, all time, the media both in the Bay Area—and when they did deign—nationally, painted him as a sort of mischievous prima donna: The over-sized chair in the corner of the locker room. The coldness with teammates, most notably fellow MVP down the way Jeff Kent. And the unapologetic vengeance with which he tore pages out of baseball’s history books and set them ablaze.

Though the Godson of Willie Mays came home to San Francisco in 1993, after signing what was at the time the biggest free agent deal ($43.75 million), ostensibly to help resurrect a franchise that months earlier had its bags packed for St. Petersburg, Florida—the prodigal son never seemed to shake his surly image.

The left fielder retired as the home run king, both overall and individual-season (2001). He has seven MVP awards crowding his trophy case and 14 All Star appearances in 22 seasons. He ranks second all-time in baseball’s current It Statistic: Wins Above Replacement. Only the Bambino floats above him. Most notably, Bonds—who also left the game having garnered the most walks of all time—has a career on-base percentage of .444. This puts him in the same company as Gehrig, Ruth and Ted Williams.

He came six outs from of winning a World Series in 2002, and, with apologies to Charles Barkley, is the greatest living athlete never to hoist a trophy.

In 2007, Bonds was indicted on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice for allegedly lying to the grand jury during a federal investigation of BALCO—Victor Conte’s performance enhancement incubator. That season, aged 43, Bonds hit .276, jacked 28 home runs and drove in 66—in only 340 at-bats. He also led the majors with 132 walks. At the height of his imbroglio with MLB, he was unsigned in the off-season. Bonds himself has hinted at collusion as he surely could have provided some flash from the batter’s box as a DH and extended his career 2-3 more seasons.

After retirement, Bonds quietly divorced his second wife, Liz Watson, in 2010. He is now an avid road biker and splits his time between LA and the Bay Area. The past two springs, the Giants have brought Bonds to Scottsdale as a special hitting instructor.

Perjury charges against Bonds were eventually dropped, but the obstruction of justice conviction was upheld by an appellate court in 2013. After a rehearing, a larger panel court voted 10-1 to overturn the conviction in March of this year.

Bonds’ life away from baseball and the Giants organization has been unobtrusive. In his absence, the franchise has fully divested itself from his final playing years and accompanying scandal by pocketing a trio of World Series rings—re-building the team around pitching and fielding to suit the ballpark whose 25-foot-high right field wall was originally designed for one Barry Lamar to hit towering drives into the bay beyond it.

It is here we pick up the narrative of Barry Bonds who has stumbled into a new role: online media provocateur and slick if not amiable everyman.

Below, a sampling of the strangely pleasant union between Bonds and the internet. Keep in mind, all this yummy goodness is from the last three weeks:

He bakes cookies

He gives shout-outs to fellow scandalized sluggers

…and emoji love to a sport that lets their best in the HOF

He barbecues chicken

He sports his WS (special assistant) ring with Giants’ CEO Larry Bear [sic]

Selfie groovin’ to EWF’s September, check

He kicks it on the Bay

He becomes a grandpa…on his birthday

He walks around the city talking shit to his mother and daughter

Oh, and he crushes it on his bike…before crushing some wine

…For someone who for two decades was so maligned, misunderstood and misquoted—it seems like Barry Lamar is either trying to make up for lost time, has had a change of heart, or is curating one insanely affable image.

To me, it’s working. And I’ll be the first to say it: #iwannakickitwithbarry

How Hockey is Your Potential NHL Expansion City?

Who’s it gonna be? Vegas, Quebec City, Seattle or Toronto—the NHL’s potential suitors rated.

By Kyle Magin

By August 10, we’ll know who’s submitting bids to become the NHL’s 31st and 32nd teams now that the hockey league has opened up its formal expansion process.

Let’s look at the probable culprits to submit a bid packet and a $1 million application fee for the right to have a shot at paying $500 million to join America’s 5th most popular sports league.

We’ve ranked the towns on a venerable “That’s so hockey” to a “that’s not very hockey” scale using the following metrics:

Points awarded for recent performances by Rise Against and OAR, support for minor league hockey, hair, alcohol consumption, access to traditional poutine (no green ingredients) and time it would take an outdoor ice rink to melt (point awarded for longest).

Points deducted for shitty weather (Canadians really, really like playing in LA), stable mental health, having things to do between October and April (AKA hockey’s regular season) and inability to pronounce Russian names.

Las Vegas

vegashairI
Pros: OAR will incite bros to pointless revolution this fall in Sin City. That’s literally millions of cargo shorts pockets from which to pluck $40 for a nosebleed hockey seat. For the hair element of this exercise, we’re assessing each city by the top Google Image search result for “city name hair.” I was back and forth on this photo before deciding it’s pretty fucking hockey, mainly because of that chick with the blue lollipop. She looks like she just got the OK from a ref to go buckets off with Tie Domi and her mane is AMPED for it. Vegas is only America’s 21st drunkest city, according to this. I don’t know what to do with that. Half point.

Cons: Vegas’s fan base will be able to golf for the literal entirety of the regular season and will probably only head indoors once the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin, unlike every other city on this list, so that’s a full-point deduction. Las Vegas is the land of Mormons with names whiter than mayo, Jews who were unlucky enough to have an immigration agent at Ellis Island chop their family moniker down to two syllables, a bunch of Mexicans and a hodgepodge of foreign taxi drivers. No way are fans there getting the pronunciation on Namestnikov right on the first try. Nevada was found guilty in federal court of shipping its mentally disturbed to San Francisco with one-way bus tickets; there’ll be a fountain of anxiety and psychosis for the new team to tap into.

Total:  .5

Verdict: Vegas is NOT very hockey.

Quebec City

qcIPros: Rise Against plays QC in September and is terrific at harnessing the anger of the perceived oppression of privileged young white men, making them hockey’s favorite band for the 80th straight year.

The city supports the Major Junior Remparts at a higher clip than the rest of the teams in their Quebec league, but attendance has been lacking at the onetime home of Guy LaFleur in the last few years. Half point. Hair gets no points—even curling doesn’t want you. Canadians don’t keep obsessive click-bait on hand about their drunkest cities, so we’ll give QC a provisional half-point that could be revoked or upgraded to a full point at a future date.

Traditional poutine was invented just down the moose trail in Montreal and I’m led to believe there are many places to get poorly fried potatoes, gravy and cheese in Quebec City. An outdoor rink poured last August would have just melted last week in QC and will be re-poured and frozen in less than a month. Quebec could host a summer ice hockey league.

Cons: Godawful weather. People excel at making poutine when their bodies never, ever have to see the light of day. A lady pushing a toque up her forehead is considered pornography by French Canada’s version of Justice Potter Stewart. And you can forget about having shit else to do during hockey’s regular season—the weather is terrible, the city supports no other major sports and the sun sets at about 3 p.m.

Hockey Night in Canada is your Friday night, every week. Canada cares for its mentally impaired really, really well. Ryan Reynolds sunk two superhero franchises and remains the picture of mental health to this day. Nobody understands what the hell Quebecois are saying, so let’s guess that they can pronounce Russian names just fine.

Total: 2

Verdict: QC is pretty hockey

Seattle

seattlehairIV
Pros: Rise Against in August. OAR in September. Overlooking the fact that turnt up white boys will be broke by hockey season, Seattle scores the rare 2-pointer for its music scene being conducive to dudes who are ready to see some teeth get knocked out. Man, I’m beginning to think almost nobody supports minor league hockey really well. Seattle has teams in the suburbs who do OK. Half point. One half point will also be awarded for hair. If she can dye it the new team’s colors (which will probably also be some inoffensive cool green/blue mashup, this being Seattle), the city may get a full point.

Seattle isn’t very drunk because the weed is just really excellent. You won’t find one non-artisanal poutine in Seattle. I’m almost tempted to dock the city a point for the vegetated bukkake it’s released onto its poutine, but we’ll let it slide for now.

Cons: Half-point deduction for shitty weather. Seattle weather is universally understood to be atrocious, but remember, hockey is a Canadian sport, and Canadians consider Vancouver to be their most pleasant locale, weather-wise. It’s like San Diego to those mapleheads. Seattle is little different from Vancouver, so while its weather sucks in totality, it’s slightly better in context. Seattle has football to follow during the early part of the season, and then nothing to do but try to get your kitchen remodel into Dwell until April, so it gets a half-point deduction for regular season activities.

Seattle is the suicide capital of the country and home to all sorts of environmental terrorists. I want to, but won’t, add a point for severe lack of mental health. This team is going to have a batshit following. Rich first-world cities seem to have a healthy dose of Russian mobsters, so I bet Seattleites will be able to pronounce Khokhlachev like Muscovites.

Total: 2

Verdict: Seattle is pretty hockey.

Toronto

don-cherry

Pros: Seriously, Rise Against is so hockey that when they play Toronto this fall they should see if they can get Don Cherry (above, left) accepted into the mosh pit. TO’s current team, the Maple Leafs, were 5th in NHL attendance this year with fans paying an average price of $368.60 per ticket. Full point for hockey support. The city’s hair scene, as pictured above, doesn’t touch its sartorial tastes. I’ve participated in some epics drunks at the Loose Moose and along Yonge Street, so we’ll go full point for alcohol consumption. Cheap, unadorned poutine is a staple food on the shores of Lake Ontario, so add a point there and tack on another for the ability to maintain a frozen outdoor ice sheet during pretty much the whole school year.

Cons: Toronto actually makes shitty weather shittier by having all of Buffalo’s deathly cold with none of its lake effect snow. It’s like a giant, empty walk-in freezer. There’s already a hockey team in town to watch during this one’s regular season, but if you make the playoffs you’ll be competition-free, so just a half-point deduction there.

Total: 3.5

Verdict: Toronto is so hockey.

Squaw CEO Andy Wirth kicks off summer by sharting all over Olympic Valley community

Subtlety is not one of Squaw Valley CEO Andy Wirth’s strong suits. Add writing a cohesive sound bite and good timing to that list.

By Andrew Pridgen

About the time the car was packed Friday afternoon and the tailgate was refusing to shut, Squaw CEO Andy Wirth closed his solitaire window and busted out an epic press release decrying the efforts of Incorporate Olympic Valley.

Maybe he thought, Fuck it, nobody’s paying attention to anything on the internets besides Google Maps and that Fallon video of U2 busking on a subway platform. Or maybe he had an extra tall boy with his hand roll lunch special at Mamasake.

Whatever it was, it was an incredible show of hubris-meets-confusion (<–which is what I can only hope is the title of some CEO’s, preferably Wirth’s, memoirs someday).

An arctic blast of fuck you from Wirth’s office featured the summer blockbuster headline: Placer County LAFCO’s Draft Fiscal Analysis Concludes Incorporation of Olympic Valley is Unfeasible (note to Andy: Acronyms are like emojis, they may be fun, but they have no place in your subject line) pretty much said, “I want to say fuck you Incorporate Olympic Valley but I’ll say it by saying someone else said it instead.”

I feel like a much better thing to do would’ve been just go on the group’s Facebook page and (speaking of emojis) just put a bunch of poop icons on their wall.

Happy Memorial Day 💩 💩 💩 💩 💩 💩 💩 💩 💩 💩 — Andy Wirth

Or he could’ve written something like: “The Incorporate Olympic Valley folks are a pain in my Recaro-Sport-office-chair-loving ass, and they need to go away and let my employer build a bunch of rough-hewn-and-granite shit that looks more dated than Jeb Bush’s foreign policy so I can restructure my bonus.”

Instead, he kicked off the weekend by twisting (a snippet from) Placer County’s local agency formation commission’s fiscal analysis of the area into saying the group’s mission to incorporate is invalid.

When in reality—and here comes the kicker—he unwittingly exposes the premise to build a big village thingy as equally if not more ridiculous than incorporation.

Ready?

“The independent study confirms the prevailing wisdom, that creating a town of 500 people, based on one revenue source and dependent on tourism and weather conditions, doesn’t make sense. There aren’t enough pencils and erasers in the world to make the numbers work.” — Andy Wirth

This is the fucking best self-quoting quote ever. Here’s why:

  • Prevailing wisdom: What does that even mean? The prevailing wisdom is that Squaw used to burn down its own buildings, tried for decades to sue its KT-22 landlord into submission and that Andy Wirth is a carpetbagger from Colorado who can only pizza when he’s sliding down Sibes. I mean, whether you agree or not, it doesn’t matter…because, you know, that’s the prevailing wisdom.
  • Town of 500 people…doesn’t make sense: The state of Kansas alone has more than 400 towns with fewer than 500 people. And guess what? Not one of them is owned by a corporation. Autonomy is not merely the right of only the big and mighty—but, and maybe most crucially, the small and concerned. It’s like saying it doesn’t make sense when a poor person smiles—because, you know, they’re poor.
  • One revenue source: Um, there it is. Creating anything based on one revenue source and the unpredictability of tourism and weather is NOT a good idea. If it seems incorporation to create a taxpayer base to help usher in decorum and stewardship is ill-fated then how bad an idea is putting a bunch of Monopoly hotels that look eerily similar to the Courtyard Salt Lake City Airport on what should be a protected watershed? How ‘bout taking the DeLorean back 1998 when there was money in ski real estate and snow on the mountain and building a village business model seemed feasible—does that seem like a good plan to go unchecked? With the options for Squaw’s future dwindling faster than you can say March 2015 snowpack results, it seems engagement along with alternative looks at infrastructure management, environmental impact and income generation could benefit the area more than corporate greed.
  • There aren’t enough pencils…: Not really sure where he’s going with this one. It takes people, not pencils and erasers, to make ideas work.

Part II of Wirth’s quote is even better:

“Furthermore (FURTHERMORE!), any attempts by Incorporate Olympic Valley (IOV) to ‘grab and capture’ Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) from other parts of the North Lake Tahoe area, amounts to a ‘taking’ that will only have negative and adverse effects for everyone who lives here, works here or visits here.”

Note to Andy part II: please budget for a proofer or at least run your press releases by someone who doesn’t let you embed ‘air quotes’ into your regular quotes. It makes it look like you’re signing someone’s yearbook, not running a business. 💩

  • ‘Grab and capture’: I think that’s supposed to be a ‘thing’. Like ‘shock and awe’ or ‘peanut butter and jelly’ or ‘make it a double’. Dunno. I might be a bit behind on my research but in none of the documentation I’ve read (nearly 2,000 pages—ugh) have I seen the Incorporate Olympic Valley group try to pull a SLA-type move and steal hotel taxes Patty Hearst-style from Tahoe City or Truckee or the Marina. Oh, wait, maybe he’s talking about ‘taking’ from parent company KSL or the Death Star or Liam Neeson. Nevermind.
  • That will only have negative and adverse effects: That’s terminology you reserve for what divorce does to children, Cousin Eddie, cancer or ISIS Day at the museum. Unleashing verbiage like that on a group of concerned citizens who don’t want to resort to tying themselves to bulldozers is probably a little strong (again, especially on the Friday of a three-day weekend.) Chillax bro.

It’s too bad the Incorporate Olympic Valley Group can’t respond to a press release. Then again, maybe they’ve got better things to do, like sharpening their pencils, this Memorial Day weekend.

Why KG needs Minnesota

KG settles back into life in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, perhaps this time for good. Why this homecoming is the best move he ever made.

By Andrew Pridgen

Kevin Garnett was a 6-foot-11, 210-pound 18-year-old from the deepest, poorest dead-end gravel road nothing of Greenville, South Carolina—raised in the toe-tagged hood known as Nickeltown—one guess what the white side of the tracks calls it.

Garnett had only played organized basketball for three years before becoming the first player in 20 years to be drafted out of high school into the NBA. Taken by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1995 number 5 overall, his physical attributes were obvious if not underdeveloped. His background non-existent. His mental acuity, questionable. His jersey hung off him like a sundress on a clothesline. He didn’t even bother to speak when spoken to most of the time. He grinned a lot. He looked down a lot.

But there was a glimmer. Everything on him was sharp, pointy. Knees, shoulders, elbows, nose, ears, the crown of his head. His squint could cut through glass like they say a diamond can.

Even so, Garnett wouldn’t last long in the NBA. He wouldn’t last long in life. His father left him when he was an infant. Toward the end of high school, he was arrested for an interracial fight in a parking lot. He was accused with the crime of lynching; of being in a pack of guys beating a kid with rolled up newspapers. He should have ended up in jail serving consecutive sentences for being one of those wrong-place/wrong-time black American boys with potential; one minute sipping a Coke, the next in shackles.

But there he was, plucked from The System’s oblivion by Farragut Career Academy and stationed like a mercenary in Chicago his senior year. He excelled. He was named National High School Player of the Year. He was Most Outstanding Player at the McDonald’s All-American Game. He blocked shots. He scored from inside. He scored from outside. He showcased talents nobody, least of all him, ever knew he had.

He was drafted.

And then he got on the NBA all-rookie second team. And then his expansion team started winning. And then he became MVP. And then he signed The Biggest Contract Ever. And then he got traded. And then he became defensive player of the year. And then he won a title.

The only one from his draft class still peeling off warm-ups, he was voted to 15 All Star games and has scored 25,000 points.

When it was time to call it a career, a good career, a career far beyond anyone’s expectation, least of all his own—he went back to his adopted home.

The man who should be an orange jumpsuit talking head from a forgotten 60 Minutes segment or Matt Taibbi footnote begging for McDonald’s and alimony money like Iverson is still imposing in the lane, though not quite as tall as he seemed in his early days—youth and genetics have caught up.

The man who should have, at best, been the gentle, nimble guy darting through rows of cars at Hertz to pull around your vacation SUV and not linger too long for a tip as he slams the tailgate shut and clasps your entire forearm with his spindly fingers…still brings the sell-out crowds of a 13-win team to its feet.

…And I think I know why: Minnesota.

Garnett returned February 19 to the land of 10,000 lakes as the Miyagi of a too-young, too-talented and too-underachieving squad was no coincidence. He had the fans from moment one. He has them now. A guy who worked hard, reached out with every last millimeter of that unreal wingspan to embrace the community and, in turn, was embraced back.

My thoughts go to another Chicago import, one Anthony Kirby Puckett who led his adopted hometown Twins to a pair of unlikely world championships in 1997 and 1991. During the latter, widely considered the greatest World Series of all time, Puckett did nothing but take away the game-winner from Atlanta jumping over the Hefty bag tarp and hockey plexi-glass of the homer dome fence game 6 and then came back to earth in time to hit the game-ending homer in the 11th.

In his career cut short by glaucoma, Puckett earned six gold gloves and 10 All Star appearances. The youngest of nine born into nothing-minus-one in a Chicago housing project, Puckett was drafted by the Twins in 1982 and saw his name scribbled on the lineup card two years later. He collected four hits in his first major league start and finished with 2,304 in only a dozen seasons.

He barely survived a decade outside of baseball and a stroke felled him at 45.

Puckett’s legacy set in motion life in the Twin Cities for the likes of KG and for someone like Twins outfielder Torii Hunter. Hunter also recently unpacked his Louis V in the Keillor’s bathed in light backyard after a long, strange trip through baseball’s promised lands where the mercury said it was warmer but fans’ reactions were cool. Hunter can convalesce with conscience clear in the prefab confines of Target Field this year. He can pan across the dugout of AAAA prospects and smile—cherishing those final at-bats and teaching of what he knows and where he’s been.

I don’t see the truncated fate of Puckett for either Hunter or KG. They’re different cats entirely, and Minnesota is a different place (it’s now 17 percent minority—yes the rest of the country is 30 percent, but Minnesota is catching up faster than most.) The state’s shade may grow darker but the values don’t change.

While Hunter will most likely retire to special envoy/batting-coach-in-training for the Twins organization, Garnett has made no secret his plans for transition from courtside to the owners’ suite, to, among other things, reunite with coach, mentor and father figure Flip Saunders—now the team’s president.

With more than $300 million in the bank and none of the usual after-market extras that plague the league’s ingenues—minus the token rumored kid sired by a T-wolves song girl and the fact that his daughters party with McConaughey’s kid, Levi—KG’s life post-basketball seems aligned to go, as his career did, surprisingly long and surprisingly well.

As a 19-year-old plucked by fate from the dead-end alley of doubt, KG learned the most important thing a player can early in his career: When you shine in a region and for a fanbase who’s simply glad to see you, glad you’re you—good things can happen. Long-term things happen. Appreciation happens. Success happens. Loyalty happens.

Minnesota happened to Garnett much more than he happened to Minnesota.