Posted By: Dan Slaubaugh
The Minnesota Timberwolves community is extremely fortunate to have a large collection of dedicated, knowledgeable Wolves writers who cover the team year in and year out. Here at OTP, we are giving fans an opportunity to find out more about these talented individuals. Our fourteenth profile feature is Andy Grimsrud, who has continually produced must-read content at his blog "Punch-Drunk Wolves".
Name: Andy Grimsrud
Affiliation: Punch-Drunk Wolves
Web Address: www.punchdrunkwolves.com
Andy! How are you? I appreciate the time!
I appreciate the invitation. I’m good. Trying to enjoy the rest of summer, but also anxiously awaiting another basketball season around the corner.
How long have you been covering the Wolves for Punch-Drunk Wolves?
We (my friend, Patrick, and myself) started the site at the beginning of the 2011-12 season (Ricky Rubio’s fun rookie year).
What sparked your interest in writing and starting up a Timberwolves blog?
I’ve been a basketball nut for as long as I can remember. I played through college and then sort of became a full-time fan again after that. When I was in law school (and in need of as many studying-distractions as possible) I learned about Britt Robson’s Wolves coverage. Not only did Britt write about basketball better than anyone else did, but he cultivated this great comment section where he would actually engage his readers in all sorts of arguments; Timberwolves-related or otherwise.
This changed my entire fan experience. I went from casually watching games to finding myself analyzing what was happening so that I was armed for whatever arguments erupted in his lively comments section. I should add that this was in the 2007 timeframe (right after KG was traded to Boston) when I also learned that a $5 scalped ticket outside of First Avenue could get me sitting almost courtside. I attended a lot of games by myself after school that season.
The Wolves were bad, but in some entertaining ways. Rashad McCants and Al Jefferson, up close and personal. Gerald Green. Marko Jaric.
You get the idea.
For a few seasons after that, my dad, who had just retired, bought a pair of season tickets. We attended a lot of games together. That was another factor in deepening my interest in this team.
Britt’s comment-section concept evolved (to a pretty incredible degree) at Canis Hoopus, where I was an active comment-section contributor for years. When I finally got a real job, those sorts of mid-day distractions became, well, a distraction. Backwards as it may sound, starting my own site and writing my own stuff at night or on the weekends – without much arguing or reacting to other people on social media – took much less time out of my schedule and provided a different type of creative enjoyment.
What will viewers find by reading your content?
I was looking back to our earlier coverage, 3 or 4 years ago, and we posted very frequently. All sorts of random – sometimes ridiculous – angles on the team. I once compared David Kahn’s decision of whether to re-sign Pekovic to President Kennedy’s Cuban Missile Crisis. That’s a pretty extreme example. Last year, I wrote about one post a week on whatever theme or issue I thought was emanating from the recent Wolves games, or Sam Mitchell’s press conferences. I didn’t write game wraps last year.
We like to do email-exchange posts, where we just riff on whatever Wolves or basketball subject has our interest. The feedback on those posts has been mostly positive and we enjoy the process, so we keep doing them. Sometimes it gets a little silly, but the whole point is to have fun with it.
Every once in a while, we’ll record a podcast. I think it’s on iTunes. We might do more of those, this season.
What keeps you driven and motivated to cover the team with excellence?
Haha, well I don’t know if those are words I would use to describe how I cover the Timberwolves. Blogging the way that we do is fun, and (almost) never feels like work.
Do you have any interest in possibly moving up in the sports media world to cover the team at a bigger platform?
I don’t think that’s in the cards. I’ve found something that works for me.
The Wolves are one of the NBA’s best young squads. Why should fans be sure to follow the team next year?
I’m the wrong person to ask this question because I think fans should always follow their local NBA team for the simple reason that it’s the best show in town.
But, setting my own bias aside, the Wolves will be one of the most exciting teams in the league, starting very soon. Probably this season. Their combination of elite qualities – Ricky’s passing and anticipation, LaVine and Wiggins high-wire acts, KAT’s versatility and poise – now coached by Tom Thibodeau is just going to be a treat for fans.
Do you have a favorite Wolves memory in the time you’ve been covering them?
Since 2011, I think Ricky Rubio’s rookie season remains the highlight. It is not hyperbole to say that he was the most exciting player in the NBA that season. The totally-unexpected success that they were having before his injury was unbelievably cool to follow as a fan, and write about as a blogger.
Since I’ve actually been a credentialed media member, my favorite memories probably involve the late Flip Saunders, and the splashy moves that he made to acquire Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. Flip managed to build something here that has fans optimistic and the rest of the league envious. He couldn’t hide his excitement about Wiggins, and he REALLY couldn’t hide his excitement about Towns. Being around Flip and the team at those times is something I’ll never forget.
What storyline are you most excited to watch unfold for the 2016/17 season?
I’m excited to see some of the up-and-coming teams make strides.
This next year is not going to be very competitive, in terms of the title race. Barring a major injury to Steph Curry or Kevin Durant, the Warriors are going to cruise to the Finals. Normally, the West Playoffs are the best part of the basketball calendar, so that’s a bummer. If they rematch with the Cavs, I suppose that’ll be fun.
But I’m going to really enjoy watching teams like the Wolves, Jazz, and even the Sixers make early strides toward joining that championship race. I think it’ll be a great regular season for hoops junkies.
Which are some of your favorite NBA and Wolves related writers you follow?
Jason Concepcion (@netw3rk) of The Ringer and Bethlehem Shoals are probably the two I enjoy reading the most. Netw3rk’s writing makes me laugh out loud. Shoals analyzes NBA culture and tracks the ongoing NBA Story in ways I’m not really wired to think of independently. I sometimes get too bogged down in the X’s and O’s and the basketball part of Basketball. Writing like theirs is enriching for me.
When he writes about the NBA, Bill Simmons is still must-read. Ethan Sherwood Strauss does a pretty amazing job of cranking out fresh angles on Warriors coverage. Zach Lowe covers the whole league better than most beat writers cover a single team.
For the Wolves, there are too many to list, and if I tried I would inevitably forget somebody. I already mentioned Britt Robson, so he’s obviously a favorite.
Rapid Fire (Flame Emojis)
Favorite sports movie? Hoop Dreams. Above the Rim is a close second.
Favorite food? Steak.
Favorite weather/season? Fall.
Favorite TV show? Ever? Probably Mad Men. That’s a really difficult question to answer. Right now I’m enjoying The Knick.
Hidden talent? I used to play the tenor sax, but busting it out at a recent party didn’t go well.
'95-'96 Bulls or '15-'16 Warriors? Pains me to admit it’s the Bulls because I really can’t stand the way retired NBA players crap on the modern game. But it’s the Bulls because they finished the job, won the ring.
Favorite NBA player of all-time? Kobe Bryant and anyone who thinks that’s a terrible answer should watch a different sport.
Space Jam or Like Mike? I’ve only seen the former, so Space Jam it is.
When do the Wolves finally end NBA's longest playoff drought? This year.