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How to Get Kicked Out of Target Center

To sir with love: NBA Commissioner David Stern

To: David Stern
From: Paul Kaiser, Jim Walsh, Pat Widell
Re: Is it easier to throw a man out of an arena or throw a ball through a hoop?

Dear Mr. Stern

We just got kicked out of the Timberwolves-Spurs game. We're not that surprised it happened, just at how quickly it happened. We told people we were going to inspire Kevin McHale to suit up--at least then we might have had two players on the floor who cared.

The way Malik Sealy cared. We tried to pay tribute to the late guard by yelling during the Malik tribute before the game, "He was a player," and "he cared," and "we loved him." People sitting nearby came up to us and told us to shut up and threatened us with fisticuffs.

If I need to explain why that is so disturbing, then your league is part of a bigger problem. You must sense it, deep down. We told people as we went into the game, including the woman at the box office, about our Draft McHale plan and everyone thought it was a good idea. Everyone laughed.

Once we started loudly voicing our opinion, people told us to relax. People told us to shut the &^&**%%%$# up. We just wanted to see McHale play, because he was tough and competitive back when the league was worth talking about. Heard a great quote the other day from 20th-century Protestant theologian Richard Niebuhr: "Most people are right about what they affirm and wrong about what they deny."

We started getting grief from fans, ushers, security, and, finally, Minneapolis's finest. We left without incident. We asked the officers, Why? They talked about rules and really had no good answer. We weren't belligerent. We were just preaching the truth. Anyway, we got the tickets for free, because one of us freelances for the Wolves fan publication Wolf Tracks, the staff of which and the dishwashing crew we saw at Champps before the game would have made a better team than the mutts in uniform.

As they were booting us and we were calmly expressing our bewilderment, it seemed like the cops actually wanted to listen, because we were making so much sense about everything. It was like their eyes were registering a pilot light, but the furnace wouldn't fire. One of our sons asked, "Are people going to think this is funny, or obnoxious?" Hard to tell, Bud.

Anyway, when we told them we were inaugural season ticket holders, they threatened to revoke our season tickets, which was funny because we cut our losses three years ago. We don't care like we used to, because they don't care. Nobody does. Nobody cares that the police kicked us out of an event in which we pay huge amounts of money to watch other people make even huger amounts of money play a game in the United States of America, land that we love, land where you apparently cannot express a profanity-free, semi-drunk opinion (like, "You've got no heart," and "Howard Dean cared")--opinions that our seating section used to thank us for a decade ago, when we were passionate regulars.

We're done. We hate even talking about how screwed up everything is, so we get together and go to a game, like we did when Bill Musselman was alive, and minimum wage lunch-bucketeers fought and clawed their way to a more respectable record than the legendary 2004-5 Minnesota Timberwolves, a team with exactly one heart.

So ban us. Hell, you'd be lucky to have the three of us behind your bench all next season. If you weren't playing hard, we'd let you know about it. If you played hard, we'd love you 'til the end of time. Minnesotans are funny like that.

And for the record: We'd like to think that McHale, Garnett--players who care--wouldn't have objected to us calling out the team's performance and blowing off a little steam about the mess this world is in, including the NBA, which issued us with three WARNING cards that read:

You are being issued a warning card that the comments, gestures, and/or behaviors that you have directed at players, coaches, game officials, and/or other spectators constitute excessive verbal abuse and are in violation of the NBA Fair Code of Conduct. This is the first and only warning that you will receive. If, after receiving this warning, you verbally abuse any player, coach, game official, or spectator, you will be immediately ejected from the arena without refund.

Oh, well. The night was fun. We had a couple of beers, went to the ball game, got a taste of what the Clash sang about in "Police on My Back," and Public Enemy rapped about on "Fight the Power," all within 20 minutes. We got home to our wives and kids early, and wrote a letter about the world our kids are growing up in, and the elephant-in-the-arena-fact that (to quote Leonard Cohen) "everybody knows."

Sorry we said anything.


Paul Kaiser
Jim Walsh
Pat Widell

Minneapolis, Minnesota
United States of America

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