February 12, 2004

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

Iím officially half way there. After this weekend, I have now attended games in two of the four major sports. As baseball is my #1 sport, it stands to reason that Iíve got the most major league games under my belt. Iíve seen ball games in Kansas City, St. Louis and Chicagoís Wrigley Field.

But after a weekend trip to Minneapolis I can now check off basketball from the list as I was treated to my first NBA game courtesy of Karriís cousin, Michael Kutzner. Minneapolis Michael hosted my wife and I for the weekend. We started off the journey with excellent seats at the Minnesota Timberwolves game, where the home team hosted the up-and-coming Cleveland Cavaliers and rookie sensation LeBron James. While ďKing JamesĒ is getting all the publicity as the heir apparent to Michael Jordan, it was the T-Wolves star, Kevin Garnett, who impressed me the most. The candidate for the NBAís most valuable player honors, poured in 35 points and was utterly unstoppable. The man is a star. At seven-feet tall he still moves around like a guard and can shoot from long range. I have sort of wandered from team to team in the past few years searching for a favorite, and now I think Iíve found them.

Iíve been to lots of University of Missouri games and one could argue that there is not that much difference between a major college game and a NBA contest. I would offer a few contrasts. The NBA game is all about entertainment. They cater to the fans with shows and contests so there basically is never a dull moment. The second biggest difference is obviously the skill level. These are the best players in the world. They rarely missed shots unless the defense was even more up for the challenge.

Minneapolis Michael has options to lure me back to fulfill the third and fourth legs of my journey as the Twin Cities also feature both an NFL team in the Minnesota Vikings as well as a hockey squad in the Minnesota Wild. Of course the rest of the Kutzner cousins have also offered their services. Cousin Rebecca (now Johnson) resides in Atlanta. One can understand why I chose the Timberwolves instead of the Hawks, but I must say the option of watching quarterback Michael Vick lead the Falcons in my first ever pro football game is enticing. Kristin and her husband, who both joined us at her brotherís in Minneapolis, also have lots of sports venues to offer in their home in Chicago. Unfortunately for Sam, the Bears, Black Hawks and the Bulls all are on the bottom halves of their respective sports. They do however hold the lure of my #1 love, the Cubs. I believe Iíll have them start looking into World Series tickets at the earliest date possible.

Now this was nearly a first, me doing a family piece without poking fun at anyone. The problem is the only good target I have is myself. Since itís sports talk here, Iíll simply say that I did a little ice skating on my trip up to Michaelís house. I did a pirouette on I-35 just outside of Ames, IA. After making it that far Thursday night in a blizzard and near white-out conditions, I guess I was a little antsy to get rolling Friday morning and didnít notice the black ice all over the road. Maybe the 43 other cars in the ditch should have been a warning sign. Sitting there in a three-foot snow drift watching the police clear up an accident on the other side of the interstate, I realized I should be thanking God, as this could have been much worse. The blessings continued as the wrecker service arrived. Granted there was a tow ban on the highway and they ultimately were unable to get my truck out until late the next day, they did get us to the rental place in time for us to sign up for a car and make the remainder of the trip in time to see the opening tipoff of the game. (We even had just enough time to stop at Cabelaís in Owatonna - but thatís a whole other column for another day.)

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