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 fifteenth profile feature is 1500ESPN Wolves analyst Steve McPherson.
Name: Steve McPherson
Affiliation: ESPN 1500
Web Address: www.ESPN1500.com
Steve! I appreciate the time! Should be fun!
Thanks for having me, Dan!
How long have you been covering the Wolves for 1500ESPN?
I’ve been writing stuff for 1500 ESPN on the Wolves for about two seasons now, doing a column once a week there. I also write and help run A Wolf Among Wolves, where I’ve been for four years now, and cover the NBA more generally for Rolling Stone and a few other places occasionally.
What sparked your interest in writing and how did you get affiliated with 1500ESPN?
I first started writing seriously in 2005 when I started writing concert reviews for a local website called howwastheshow.com. Pretty quickly, I started writing for an alt-weekly here called Pulse of the Twin Cities and became the music editor. Between editorial positions and freelance, I was a music journalist for about five years before going back to school for an MFA in writing. Toward the end of that program, I started a blog about the Wolves and the NBA called Feelings Aren’t Numbers. Since then it’s been a slow, grinding ride directly to the middle.
What will viewers find by reading your content?
Although I write game recaps regularly for AWAW, I tend to veer toward the more human element of the game and less of the straight stats and play-by-play. Sometimes it’s fun to go really in-depth on a particular play or sequence of plays, but I also like to go really big with overarching themes for the season as a whole. Basically, I like to think really broadly or really granularly about the game and I hope that’s what I bring.
What keeps you driven and motivated to cover the team with excellence?
At first, I didn’t all that much about basketball from a technical perspective. I never played the game in an organized way so I had a lot to learn about the mechanics of the game on the court. I’m no expert now, but I feel like I’ve gotten so much of that that I’ve moved more toward being interested in the people playing the game and that seems like an almost endless font of new material and stories to work with.
The Wolves are one of the NBA’s best young squads. Why should fans be sure to follow the team next year?
As much as I enjoy watching a well-oiled machine like the Warriors or the Spurs, I get a lot of enjoyment out of seeing the moment when things click for a team, and I think fans can expect to see a lot of that with the Wolves this upcoming season. For all their potential, they don’t really have an on-court identity yet, and I think this will be the season where we really start to see that come out. I think that will be a lot of fun.
Do you have a favorite Wolves memory in the time you’ve been covering them?
One of my favorite Wolves-related moments was when I was coming back from this past season’s All-Star Game in Toronto. My flight – and everyone’s flight from Toronto, apparently – was delayed, so I found my gate and then went to grab something to eat. When I came back, I saw that Zach LaVine was on my flight. He was with his parents and sister, baseball hat pulled down so he could get some sleep and next to him on the floor was his carry-on, on top of which was the 2016 Slam Dunk Contest trophy. It was such an odd juxtaposition and a good reminder of just how young this team is.
What storyline are you most excited to watch unfold for the 2016/17 season?
Given that everyone is expecting a rematch of the Warriors and Cavaliers in the Finals, I think the most interesting thing to watch is what teams will do instead of trying to win. That sounds flip, but I mean that I think for a long time, the league has often been a follow-the-leader league where one team gets a Big Three, then everyone else tries to get a Big Three, and so on. It’s going to be very hard for any other teams to duplicate what’s been done to build Cleveland and Golden State, so they’re going to have to start finding other ways. Does Philly go super big? Does Houston go all offense and completely punt defense? I think some teams will feel freed up to try some more outlandish stuff, and that’s what I’m interested in.
Which are some of your favorite NBA and Wolves related writers you follow?
My favorite NBA writers are Lee Jenkins, Zach Lowe and Jonathan Abrams, although I read a lot of stuff from a lot of people more based on the topic or approach than the writer. As far as Wolves people, I love all the dudes at AWAW, plus Britt Robson and so many others. Honestly, the Wolves overall are one of the best-covered teams, I think, so I read a lot of what everyone has to say.
Rapid Fire (Flame Emojis)
Favorite sports movie? The Natural, but honestly, my favorite sports-related entertainment is Friday Night Lights.
Favorite food? As a general rule, pizza. Not all pizza is created equal, obviously, but the very best is amazing and it has all the major food groups. Hard to go wrong.
Favorite weather/season? I love a good crisp autumn day – vest weather, I would say. Ideally, I like to be able to wear jeans and a hoodie with a down vest, maybe a little overcast but also clear blue is good.
Favorite TV show? I still believe The Wire is the best TV show that’s ever been made, but there are so many good ones now. Just finished and really enjoyed Stranger Things.
Hidden talent? I don’t know how hidden it is, but before I was a writer, I was a musician – a guitarist. I still play a good number of shows around the Twin Cities.
'95-'96 Bulls or '15-'16 Warriors? In a game, I feel like it matters hugely what set of rules they’re using. In terms of just personally and aesthetically, it’s very easy to pine for what you can’t have, so I’m going with the ’95-’96 Bulls. I’d love the chance to see them again knowing what I know now, instead of what I knew then, which was nothing.
Favorite NBA player of all-time? I’m not going to overthink this one: Kevin Garnett.
Space Jam or Like Mike? Space Jam.
When do the Wolves finally end NBA's longest playoff drought? I’m going to be conservative and say not this season, but next one.