"Why do we celebrate NCAA tourney teams winning a one and done scenario but gonna mock NBA players and their fans for doing the same…seems wrong to me."
This was JJ Redick's live reaction to people making fun of the Timberwolves for their emotional reaction to the play-in win against the Clippers to clinch the No.7 seed. But a single tweet wasn't enough for a former NBA player to fully express his frustrations.
In a recent episode of The Old Man and The Three, Redick doubled down on his criticism of people dehumanizing athletes.
There's a general feeling that players stop caring about basketball the moment they ink their first multi-million NBA contract. At that point, all the benefits come first, and the game itself becomes secondary.
But once the final buzzer sounded at Target Center, basketball was the only thing that mattered. And it mattered because of all the things that led to that moment.
"Just to provide some context about the Timberwolves. Karl-Anthony Towns was with Flip, who passed away. Karl-Anthony Towns has lost his mother and a number of family members to COVID. Patrick Beverley is the ultimate chip on your shoulder guy who felt disrespected by the Clippers,” Redick said.
Not only that, but this is only the second time the Timberwolves made the postseason in the last 18 years. But for most, that still doesn't justify their "overboard" reaction after Tuesday's win.
"It fuc*ing mattered!"
So Redick took it a step further.
“My point is for all the knock against professional athletes; we witnessed in real time them showing that it matters. Them showing how much they cared," JJ said. "They cared. The city cared. The fans cared. The team cared. The players cared. And we’re going to make fun of that?"
We shouldn't. But we do. And all because we hold every NBA player and every NBA team to the same standard -- it's championship or bust.
Small victories don't matter. Getting to the playoffs after being one of the worst organizations in the last two decades doesn't matter. Overcoming personal challenges also doesn't matter.
The right to celebrate and show emotion is only reserved for those on the championship podium. Everyone else is perceived as underachievers, even though that's far from the truth.
Redick never won an NBA championship. But there were moments in his basketball journey that he couldn't help but be emotional about.
"When you go through something, you set a goal whatever it may be or you go through the series that is so hard-fought, yes, you get emotional," JJ said. "I cried after we beat the Spurs in 2015. It was the first round! Did I feel like I had accomplished some great thing that I had a ring on my finger? Fu*k no! But you know what? It was emotional because it fu*king mattered and I cared!"
T-Wolves also cared and were mocked for it. And why -- because people can't adjust their expectations toward NBA teams and athletes in general.
Most fans probably didn't even see the game on Tuesday. Also, despite the win, most of them predict a first-round exit for the T-Wolves. But for everyone in the organization, none of that matters.
For the second time in the last 18 years, they are in the postseason. So no one can say that it's not all about basketball this time.