If the Timberwolves play poorly, do fans have a right to boo?
The Timberwolves have been booed at more home games than not thus far this season
Anthony Edwards delivered one of the first and only Target Center “moments” to date this year in the third quarter of the Minnesota Timberwolves’ home win over Miami on Monday.
Edwards denied Max Strus at the rim via an emphatic block on one end, then seized up the Heat defense before stepping back to splash a 3-point shot on offense to trim Minnesota’s 13-point halftime deficit to one in the midst of a massive rally that saw the Wolves grow an eight-point advantage.
The home arena was raucous, as it was so many times in the second half of last season. Fans were standing and cheering, their salute to one of the best stretches of basketball they had witnessed in downtown Minneapolis yet this fall. Those are the moments for which Edwards plays. The vibe was a stark contrast from the first half, during which the Wolves’ faithful let out a chorus of boos to show their dismay for what was a lackluster effort over the first 24 minutes of the game.
“I love the crowd, man,” Edwards told the media, before leaning in closer. “Tell them, ‘Hey y’all, if y’all listening to this, keep coming, showing us love, stop booing us. We’re going to give you everything we got, man. We trying.”
From his nearby locker stall, Rudy Gobert was echoing a similar message. The Timberwolves have been booed at more home games than not thus far this season.
“I just don’t appreciate people that come in to boo your team. When you’re a fan, you gotta support your team in the tough or the good moments,” Gobert said. “There’s no team in NBA history that only had good moments, so if you’re not going to support us in the tough moments, just stay home. I think if you’re going to embrace us in the tough moments, then come and then we’re going to love the support.”
Gobert doesn’t remember being booed more than a few times in Utah throughout his nine years with the Jazz.
“Things are not always going to go well. It’s a long season. There is a lot of things that come into a season. You can’t just boo every time the other team makes a run,” Gobert said. “That’s not the support we need. That’s not the support we expect. At the same time, we’re really grateful for the fans. I think it’s a mentality … That’s why I appreciate they cheer when we win, but I hope they support us in tough moments, too.”
There are many who believe fans should support and cheer on their team regardless of performance. Because, as they note, booing doesn’t help anything. But, to the credit of Wolves fans, they generally only boo poor efforts in which Minnesota isn’t playing good basketball. If the Wolves aren’t moving the ball offensively, aren’t getting back and playing defense or aren’t boxing out on the glass for long periods of play, the fans will let them know about it.
This fan base carries an expectation of effort. If you don’t at least meet that bar, be prepared for the showers of dismay. People pay a lot of money to be in the arena, so it seems reasonable to assume that buys you a chance to view at least a respectable level of basketball. Timberwolves fans have already had to witness their team getting blown out this season by the likes of the Spurs and Knicks.
“I think we’ve had some less-than-ideal performances at home, to be fair,” Wolves coach Chris Finch told Paul Allen on KFXN 100.3 on Tuesday. “We have not played some of our best basketball at home.”
Those embarrassments were products of lackadaisical effort, the opposite of which Minnesota delivered Wednesday, when it dominated in all phases in an impressive win over Indiana. That game is now the standard for this Wolves team. It’s a standard Minnesota did not meet in the third quarter Friday in Charlotte, in which it was outscored 39-21 by the lowly Hornets en route to a disappointing defeat.
Should the Wolves bring a similar effort Sunday at home against Golden State, they probably should not expect an outpouring of praise.
“I don’t think any player likes to be booed. It’s always hard to be booed in your own arena,” Finch told Allen. “My normal response would be, ‘If you don’t want to be booed, play better.’ At the same token, we’ve got great fans. I think they have high expectations that when a team plays hard and plays the right way, they appreciate that. It’s our job to go out and play that way, not just for their benefit, but for ours.
“I would just say to the fans, ‘Listen, we hear ya.’ We want to play better, but this is a work in progress. We all knew it was going to be. … But we do gotta put more work in at times and we’ve got to play better at home.”
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