Zapruder Analysis of Andrew Wiggins's Painfully Awkward SportsCenter Interview
When you're the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft in late June, the summer months should be a time of celebration.
Andrew Wiggins is about to get really uncomfortable.
For that player, years of youth basketball, high school basketball, the AAU circuit and a hard-fought few months in the college ranks have all culminated in the realization of millions of dollars, adulation of a new hometown and maybe even a shoe contract!
This should be a time where the top pick begins bonding with new teammates and laying the groundwork for the upcoming season.
For Andrew Wiggins of the Cleveland Cavaliers (for a few more weeks, at least), it hasn't been anything close to that. For Wiggins, the summer has been a six-week limbo of rumors and speculation with all signs pointing to his exile to basketball Siberia (which is Minnesota, just to be clear).
Consider Wiggins's journey:
June 26: Drafted by Cleveland with the No. 1 overall pick
Acceptable Wiggins reaction: "Well, crap, Cleveland has sucked since LeBron left, and...well, it's also Cleveland. How many years until I'm a free agent?"
July 11: LeBron James announces he's returning to Cleveland
Acceptable Wiggins reaction: A celebration with lots of cigars, expensive scotch, strippers and cardboard cutouts of LeBron James!
July 25: Andrew Wiggins signs his contract with the Cavaliers
Acceptable Wiggins reaction: More cigars, scotch and strippers!
July 31: Reports from ESPN that a WIggins-(and other stuff)-for-Kevin Love deal to Minnesota is a "when"-not-"if" situation
Acceptable Wiggins reaction: Dumping a gallon of kerosene over his head and asking people around him for a match.
Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit (but just a little bit).
There are worse things than being paid millions of dollars to play professional basketball in Minnesota, but in the specific realm of paying, playing jobs in professional basketball, Minnesota might be the last stop domestically ahead of the D League. The Timberwolves have sucked the will to live out of many a would-be star player, so much so that Kevin Love now actually sees Cleveland as some sort of basketball oasis. (The Power of LeBron!)
For Wiggins, the news this weekend that Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor sees a trade of Love to the Cavaliers in late August as "likely" is significant, given that Taylor's been adamant that the team would not be moving Love before the start of the 2014-15 season. (Because of NBA contractual rules on rookies, late August is the earliest a trade of Wiggins could happen.)
For Wiggins, he's not necessarily staring at his basketball mortality. Many players have made lots of money over the years losing hundreds of games in the Twin Cities (most notably Love). Wiggins may be miserable in Minnesota, but he should still have a long career, and there's always free agency eventually.
However, Wiggins probably is staring at his basketball immortality, if that makes sense.
There's nothing easy about becoming a Hall of Famer, but the path is presumably easier playing alongside LeBron James than it is toiling as the best player in the seventh circle of basketball hell. For Wiggins, the next four weeks will determine if this fork in the road sends him toward "next Scottie Pippen" or "next "Shareef Abdur-Rahim."
Tellingly, Wiggins had all the energy and enthusiasm of a hostage in a propaganda video Sunday morning on this SportsCenter appearance (live from the rookie photoshoot for some trading card company), in which anchor Bram Weinstein peppers him with so many questions about the possibility of Cleveland trading him that it almost feels like Weinstein had a bet with his producers that he could make Wiggins cry.